METRO Unveils Much Anticipated New Bus Network this August
by Staff Writer • September 1, 2015
This past August, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) unveiled its much anticipated, New Bus Network. The unveiling marks the beginning of a five-year plan to revitalize Houston’s bus system.
The agency’s approval process for a better bus system began in early 2015, when METRO’s board of directors approved an innovative system of routes designed to work together to create a network, with better connections to job centers and popular destinations around the city, instead of connecting primarily to the city’s Downtown core. The goal was to provide a faster, more efficient, and easier to use mass transit service without raising costs to the public.
With the help of leading transit designers and input from the community, the result was a new, completely redesigned bus network that will, first and foremost, offer more riders increased access to job centers and other frequently traveled destinations.
This aggressive implementation plan included changing bus stop/shelter locations, posting new signage throughout the system, modifying bus operating facilities, and creating a comprehensive public education, marketing, and media plan. METRO anticipates a 20 percent increase in ridership within the next two years.
METRO’s New Bus Network improvements include:
A frequent-network grid that connects one million people and one million jobs
An increase in current riders served by frequent service from 25 to 75 percent
Faster trips for 30 key destinations
The ability of 94 percent of riders to board at their current stop
Routes operating seven days a week
Anticipated ridership increasing 20 percent in two years
Additional service improvements include:
Daily, high-frequency bus network with 22 bus routes that integrate with METRO’s three light rail lines
37 percent more Saturday and 93 percent more Sunday bus service
Freight railroad crossings reduced by 30 percent, a major source of on-time performance woes
Running times on all bus routes verified and updated to further improve on-time performance
But better access isn’t the only improvement. METRO’s New Bus Network is more convenient and user-friendly. Riders will no longer need a bus schedule, as METRO’s “frequent network” brings more than one million Houstonians into within a half-mile of a bus route that runs every 10 to 15 minutes for at least 15 hours a day, seven days a week ─ double the current number of people with such access. METRO is a welcome cost saving, user-friendly alternative for many who haven’t considered public transit before.
METRO’s New Bus Network is more reliable. Currently, delays often result from buses stopped by freight trains and are compounded by long, complicated routes. The New Bus Network reduces the number of street level freight rail crossings by 30 percent each day. New routes are shorter, come more often, and have virtually no branches so bus operators can do a better job of keeping buses running on time
The Houston region is dynamic and growing. METRO’s New Bus Network is designed to serve the city’s biggest job and activity centers. The network not only improves upon today's needs for commuters but is also designed to anticipate emerging needs and is ready to grow with the multi-centered region of the future. It’s a transit system that lets more people get to more places, more quickly, more of the time.