Metro Says Getting More People To Ride The Bus Is Its Top Goal

Metro board members have taken a crucial first step in the transit agency's efforts to "re-imagine" Houston's bus system. It's all part of an effort to boost sagging ridership by providing quicker service.

Metro board members have now come up with preliminary numbers on how to allocate public resources, as it balances how to increase ridership, and how to give maximum coverage to existing riders.  

After lengthy discussion the board voted to recommend to its planning staff that 80% of resources should be put toward the goal of getting more people on the bus.

Transit consultant Jared Walker says the problem with some of Metro's existing bus routes is that they're expensive to run and don't have that many riders. 

"Mostly it's about driving back into very hard-to-serve areas where the development design does not lend itself to running a straight and efficient transit route. And so the question is really how many of those people are you ready to risk inconveniencing."  

Metro has faced declining bus ridership since 2000, although it's seen some gains over the last year. 

As for why people don't ride the bus, Metro says one of the biggest complaints has to do with the frequency of service. The agency is now studying whether it can offer more reliable service by altering some of its routes.  

Metro board member Christof Spieler stresses the process is only in the early stages.

"It's always the people in the neighborhood who actually understand that neighborhood best, who understand the destinations in that neighborhood." 

Metro says under a redesigned system, some riders may have to walk farther to get to a stop but they won't have to wait as long for a bus.  

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...