Management & Operations

New Rail, Revamped Bus Network Drives Houston Metro’s Success

Posted on October 5, 2015

Much has happened in the Houston/Harris County Region since last year’s APTA EXPO, including the launch of two new rail lines in May and a complete revamp of its bus system, which began running services in August.

“It’s been very exciting for the Houston Metro employees, and the organization as a whole, to be able to expand services and travel choices to our customers,” said Houston Metro President/CEO Tom Lambert.

In 2001, Metro adopted a Regional Transit Plan that was enacted in 2003 and called for 30 miles of light rail transit, including the 5.3-mile North Line, which opened in 2013. Two more rail lines in that plan — Southeast and East End — launched in May.

The 3.3-mile East End Line runs along Harrisburg Boulevard — a major boulevard in Houston — and features six stations, connecting riders to jobs and residential areas, while the six-plus-mile Southeast Corridor serves major residential areas,  as well as Texas Southern University and the University of Houston’s main campus.
“We’re really beginning to see the building of a rail network that not only travels North-South, but East-West,” said Lambert. “Since May, we’ve seen ridership continuing to grow incrementally on both of those lines.”

Lambert added that development along all of Metro’s rail corridors has also continued to grow, with public and private investment along the Main Street Line now hitting about $8.2 billion since it launched in 2004.

“We are seeing the growth of urban environments where people use transit to work, live and play in the areas where they reside, so I think we will see this type of development continue to take off,” said Lambert.

To better integrate with the changing transit system, Houston Metro embarked on a three-year project to update its bus network for the first time since the 1970s. That new bus network launched in August, bringing along with it several improvements without any additional operational costs, including 38% more bus service on Saturdays; 93% more service on Sundays; and the addition of 22 high-frequency routes, with headways that are 15 minutes or better, seven days a week.   

“Our old transportation network basically forced people to go to Downtown Houston and then transfer out to where they really wanted to go,” Lambert explained. “The new network is a grid-based network, where riders can get directly to where they’d like to go without having to come downtown, unless they want to.”

To help riders with the transition, Houston Metro launched a trip planner that helped passengers plan their trips on the old network and then see how their trip would change once the new network launched.

The agency also launched a massive outreach program, which included radio and television advertising and approximately 22 million pieces of collateral materials designed to create awareness amongst the communities Houston Metro serves.

The new network also includes the Community Connector, which covers an approximate five-square-mile area and functions similar to a demand-response system. Connector riders can either be picked up at their door or at two designated stops.

“We launched the service about six months ago and have been getting very good feedback from the community,” Lambert said. “It was something we looked at from a coverage standpoint, and we’ll continue to see how this type of service may better serve other regions that may need service.”

For all this and more, Houston Metro has been named APTA’s Outstanding Public Transit System, carrying more than 20 million passengers per year.

“I’m proud for the community first and foremost,” Lambert said. “Back in 1978, they voted to tax themselves to support transit, and through that, they gave us the opportunity to build a network that continues to improve.”

View comments or post a comment on this story. (2 Comments)

More News

LA Metro taps Parsons to modernize RIITS communications

Provides transportation operations a consolidated, data-rich, and near real-time source of information for transportation in Southern California via an interface that allows for coordinated transportation management throughout the region.

NJ Transit reinstates MCI Commuter Coach order

In July 2016, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had issued Executive Order No. 210 directing the immediate and orderly shutdown of all ongoing work funded under the TTFA.

New transit planning group director joins HNTB

Steven Greene will be responsible for the development and support of the firm’s expanding multimodal transit planning practice, focusing on transit and corridor studies.

President of McDonald Transit announces his retirement

Robert Babbitt will continue to stay involved in with the company, working as a consultant and helping ensure a smooth transition to new leadership.

Gannon appointed to permanent GM post for King County Metro

Gannon, 47, served as interim GM from March 2016 until now. He was Metro Deputy GM from 2013-2016, and Human Resources manager for the King County DOT from 2011-2013.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (2)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close