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Houston METRO Introduces New Bus Network

Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) launched a substantially new bus network—78 updated routes, including 22 scheduled to run every 15 minutes or more often at least 18 hours a day, seven days a week—on Aug. 16.

“METRO’s New Bus Network will provide tremendous benefit for our community,” said President and CEO Thomas Lambert. “We’ve made significant improvements so riders have service seven days a week, including 22 frequent routes where buses arrive every 15 minutes or better, plus improved connections to our three METRORail lines. Another impressive fact is 75 percent of all ­riders will experience more frequent service; that’s up from 25 percent with the old ­system.”

Lambert said the agency added a next bus texting feature so riders can track real-time arrivals.

Further, he noted, the new network is “built on a foundation of better service,” including connections to major employment centers and growth in weekend service, with increases of 37 percent on Saturdays and 93 percent on Sundays.

The introduction of METRO’s New Bus Network, the first major change in service since the 1970s, marked the first phase of a five-year plan to improve mobility for the area.

Lambert joined staff members, supervisors, street teams and board members on opening day, providing assistance to tens of thousands of bus riders across the region. These helpers answered questions, handed out schedules and bottles of water and sometimes walked riders right to their bus. In addition, METRO buses and light rail operated fare free Aug. 16-22. (METRO’s two new light rail lines—the Green and Purple lines—opened in May.)

In preparation for the service changes, more than 100 METRO teams took to the streets on Aug. 16, replacing 9,000 bus signs throughout the service area.

Elements of METRO’s “reimagined” bus network include:

* Connections to additional destinations and improved service to key activity centers;

* More frequent weekend service;

* Simplified routes with more and better connections;

* A sustainable system that serves the community today and anticipates expansion;

* A bus network that connects more than one million people to one million jobs, with shorter wait times for buses; and

* An effort to provide passengers with the best public transit service possible.

METRO President and CEO Thomas Lambert shows a rider the schedule for a new local bus route on the first day of service for the agency's New Bus Network.

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