Houston METRO Slashes Fare to Airport, Hopes to Lure More People On-Board

If you need a ride to Bush from downtown, consider this: For four dollars and fifty cents METRO will drive you there. The new price tag for the 45 minute shuttle ride is 70 percent less than the old price of $15 dollars. METRO’s Airport Direct was criticized in the past for its lack of ridership. The 52-seat coach rarely saw more than a handful of passengers per trip. Kimberley Slaughter is the vice president of service, design, and development at METRO. She says the cost of the service probably deterred some would-be riders.

“For our everyday customers, I think especially with this economy, $15 may have been a little more expensive for them. And so the $4.50 makes it more affordable.”

The shuttle will also stop at more downtown locations - five in total. Slaughter says the majority of people who use the service are out-of-towners here on business. But she says with the changes, it’s now a viable option for everyone. Slaughter says the agency is also working to make more people aware that the Airport Direct line exists.

“We are looking to do a lot more marketing.”

She says there are signs and pamphlets at the airport, but they may install permanent monitors advertising the service as well. But even though METRO expects the changes will increase ridership, Slaughter says it will cost METRO about the same, some $1.9 million dollars a year.

“We’re not reaping any cost savings here. What we are trying to do is to make it more appealing, add more customer service to it, make sure that we’re providing the service that the customer wants.”

The revamped service starts Sunday and will still run every thirty minutes, seven days a week. It will be reviewed after six months to determine whether it’s successful.

For more on this story, visit Transportation Nation. KUHF contributes to transportationnation.org, a public radio reporting project. "Transportation Nation combines the work of public radio newsrooms and their listeners as the way we build, rebuild, and get around the nation changes."

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