Transportation

Riders Sound Off On Metro’s New Bus Network

Metro says it’s pleased so far with ridership on the new bus network, but some riders say they wish they had their old routes back. Transit officials expect they’ll make some changes once all the numbers are in.

Metro CEO Tom Lambert appears before Board of Directors to discuss developments with Houston's new bus network.

 

At Metro’s first board meeting following the launch of the new network, officials heard about two hours of public comment from unhappy riders.

One of those riders was Jennifer Williams. She commutes from southwest Houston to her job in the Texas Medical Center. Williams says she can get back to her neighborhood okay, but it’s the last bus home that’s a problem.

“I either have to wait for the 63 to take me down the street and wait there 25 minutes nervously, not knowing who’s going to approach me,” says Williams. “Or I could walk in the dark, by myself, down the street to my apartment.”

Metro officials say they know it’s not a smooth transition for everyone, but they’re hoping the newly redesigned routes will encourage more ridership after years of declining numbers.  Metro Chairman Gilbert Garcia says they fully expect to make some tweaks after the first of the year.

“We’re going to just frankly, compile our list, take a look to see if there are any adjustments we need to pivot to, whether we can solve them by a different vehicle, or solve them by a slight alteration on the route,” says Garcia.

Metro offered free rides during the network’s first week. They say bus ridership was up 24 percent. Rail ridership saw a 72 percent boost. There was also a slight uptick in the number of park and ride users, even though there were still fares on the commuter buses.

In other action, Metro has issued new projected ridership numbers for the Uptown bus rapid transit line that’s being built along Post Oak Boulevard. Garcia says the ridership forecast for the year 2018 is about 15 percent lower than earlier projections. But he adds the forecast for 2035 is about 18 percent higher.

“All you have to do, anecdotally, is go down there and experience the traffic yourself,” says Garcia. “And all you’ve got to do, go down there and see all the cranes and all the construction yourself. And it’s pretty clear that you need a transit solution there.”

The dedicated bus lane is in the early stages of construction, but some Uptown property owners have filed suit to try to stop it.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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