Houston Buses in New Routes
By Kyle Nazario
Houston Metro is going to improve the bus system across the city. Buses will run more frequently to more parts of the city. The best part? They’ll do it for no extra cost by moving around the routes.
Travel consultant Jarrett Walker called it the “most transformative transit plan in its history.”
The Metro is throwing out the old routes and building more efficient replacements. The old system used meandering, redundant paths. The new plan ditches those for carefully placed routes that service west and south Houston more frequently. Southside Place, Bellaire, and the area around the Westpark Tollway will receive most of the new, faster routes.
“The core idea of the new network is the high-frequency grid, designed to enable anywhere to anywhere travel with a fast connection,” Walker wrote on his blog.
The current system focuses too much on the downtown area. The Metro wants to expand its fast services to other dense areas like Uptown-Galleria and South Belt. Years of expansion have left only 25% of Houston’s jobs downtown.
The Metro also plans to run buses every 15 minutes at the latest. They’ll even run them on this schedule on weekends, a godsend for anybody who’s ever been stuck downtown on a Saturday night.
More buses and more services sounds good. But like everything, there’s a catch.
The Metro can offer more service on the new area by ditching the expensive lines. Some people living in outer Houston will get screwed and have to walk to a bus stop. Anybody who wants to bike is in the same boat as before, if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor. Only buses on the 200 line and a few local lines have bike racks. A Metro rep told me there are no plans to change that.
Walker claims only 0.5% of people live more than a quarter-mile from a stop, so at least there aren’t too many of them.
“Often, their longer walk is to a better service, a trade-off most people are willing to make in practice,” Walker wrote.
The new routes look like they’ll help most people. The Metro will run more buses to places people actually want to go instead of just downtown. Riders won’t be stuck waiting in the heat for the bus to show up as long as they did before. And we get all this free because it’s moving around money that’s already there.
Seems great- as long as you’re not in that 0.5% that’s more than a quarter-mile from the next bus stop.
If you are and think this plan sounds terrible (or aren’t and think it sounds great), let the Metro know. They’re taking public feedback right now before implementing it in June 2015.
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