Metro is continuing to work on its redesign of Houston’s bus system. Much of the focus is on suburban routes, and how to help people get around the growing residential and employment centers outside the loop.
Northwest Houston resident Lisa Horton was at a recent Metro public meeting. She makes a daily trip on the Antoine bus to the Northwest Transit Center. From there, Horton gets on another bus to go to her job near the Galleria. She says it’s not a quick trip.
“In the mornings a lot shorter, anywhere from 45 to 55 minutes. At night it’s a little longer because the traffic is a little heavier.”
Despite the length, Horton says most of her trips go smoothly but it can get frustrating.
“When you see the bus pass in front of you while you’re waiting to cross the street to catch it, and you usually have to sit there and wait for another bus for another 30 to 40 minutes.”
Horton says she can imagine a day when you don’t have to run to the bus, and she’s encouraged to hear about Metro’s plan to provide more frequent service. That means buses every 15 minutes during peak periods.
It’s all part of Houston’s bus reimagining plan. Metro Vice-President Kurt Luhrsen says despite the car-centered lifestyle in Houston’s northwest suburbs, there are a lot of people right now who depend on public transit.
“Our Antoine route right now is a very solid route. It’s a little bit better than average for us. We have full buses during portions of the day and portions of the weekend.”
Luhrsen says a big focus of the reimagining plan is to increase service for people who need to get to the area’s new employment centers.
When Houston’s bus routes were first designed most people worked downtown, but Luhrsen says riders now need to get to places like the Medical Center. There’s also reverse commuting. Some riders are headed to the Energy Corridor along I-10, west of the Beltway.
Luhrsen adds that many of the suburban routes still reflect the old models.
“Almost all of the routes out here today take you downtown, whether you want to go there or not. So as we’ve tried to put together a logical grid of routes, we’re going to help people get to more places quicker than they can get today and not necessarily have to go downtown.”
Also at the public meeting was northwest Houston resident Evelyn Henry. She doesn’t ride the bus right now, but she’d like to use it to get to places like the zoo and the Museum District. But Henry says to make those trips work you need to have dependable service.
“You know, you don’t want to go and get stuck out there and come home late at night, or have to wait at a hot bus stop.”
Metro will hold public meetings on the reimagining plan through the end of the month. After reviewing public comment Metro’s board will finalize the plan. New bus routes and schedules are expected to go into effect next summer.
You can learn more about the reimagining plan here.