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METRO Draft Reimagined Network Plan


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  • 2 weeks later...

Meetings start next Wednesday

1     Magnolia Multi-Service Center     7037 Capitol St., Houston, TX 77011     Wednesday, May 28     6pm-8pm

2     Metropolitan Multi-Service Center     1475 W. Gray Street, Houston, TX 77019     Thursday, May 29     6pm-8pm

3     Ellis Memorial Church of Christ     412 Massachusetts St., Houston, TX 77029     Tuesday, June 3     6pm-8pm

4     Trini Menenhall Sosa Community Center     1414 Wirt Road Houston, TX 77055     Thursday, June 12     6pm-8pm

5     HCC – Northwest College (Spring Branch Campus)     1010 W. Sam Houston Pkwy. N., Houston, TX 77043     Monday, June 16     6pm-8pm

6     HCC – Southwest College (Alief Hayes Campus)     2811 Hayes Rd., Houston, TX 77082     Thursday, June 19     6pm-8pm

7     Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center     6500 Rookin St., Houston, TX 77074     Thursday, June 26     6pm-8pm

8     White Oak Conference Center     7603 Antoine Dr., Houston, TX 77088     Wednesday, July 9     6pm-8pm

9     Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center     3810 W. Fuqua Street, Houston, TX 77045     Thursday, July 10     6pm-8pm

10     Westbury Baptist Church     10425 Hillcroft Street, Houston, TX 77096     Tuesday, July 15     6pm-8pm

11     Third Ward Multi-Service Center     3611 Ennis St., Houston, TX 77004     Thursday, July 20     6pm-8pm

12     Sunnyside Multi-Service Center     4605 Wilmington St., Houston, TX 77051     Monday, July 21     6pm-8pm

13     Mangum-Howell Center     2500 Frick Road, Houston, Texas 77038     Thursday, July 22     6pm-8pm

14     Northeast Multi-Service Center     9720 Spaulding St., Houston, TX 77016     Thursday, July 24     6pm-8pm

15     Acres Homes Multi-Service Center     6719 W. Montgomery Road, Houston, TX 77091     Monday, July 28     6pm- 8pm

16     Kashmere Multi-Service Center     4802 Lockwood Dr., Houston, TX 77026     Thursday, July 31     6pm-8pm

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I'm really curious about the 'flex' zones and how they'll work.

Does any other major city have them?

Are they a model for other areas of Houston / un-incorporated Harris county /  suburban cities like Sugar Land could emulated in the future as more and more people move here? 

How do we ensure that we don't have to re-invent the wheel like this again?

Does Metro have a strategic plan for bus service?

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Pretty pointless meeting. Hard for metro to relate when most if anyone on the board even rides transit regularly. I gave some suggestions on apps, tapping phones on buses, digital signs at stations, eliminating HOV lanes and replacing with commuter rail, putting pedestrian walkways between south point and fuqua, running buses every 7 minutes, eliminating gmp, building university line. They didn't like hearing about a lot of it but that's too bad they need to take it. And nobody wants to hear we can't do it when other cities are doing far more than us. This would've been a cool goal 30 years ago but it's just a first step not an ends to the means.

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Given their limited budget, what would you cut in order to do those things?

I understand the situation. I'm happy with what they're doing now but just wanted to pass along my ideas for the future too. The biggest deterrent is the GMP situation. From the back room changing of the ballot to asking people to vote against transit because of fear of the legislature it was just totally bizarre.

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  • 8 months later...

Metro board approves major changes to bus system...

 

 

The Metropolitan Transit Authority board on Wednesday approved the most sweeping overhaul of Houston's bus service in decades.

The new system, expected to take effect in August, will shift from a downtown-focused, hub-and-spoke design to a broader network that resembles a grid pattern. The changes will not affect park-and-ride service.

Approved in concept in September, the plan has undergone revisions to allay concerns about how it would affect certain communities, particularly in northeast Houston.

Metro plans a public education campaign to acquaint riders with the new system over the coming months.

http://www.chron.com/news/transportation/article/Metro-board-approves-major-changes-to-bus-system-6075420.php

 

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A relevant piece from the NYT.

 

The short version: rail is far more expensive than bus service yet no faster, but rail lines continue to be built because bus service is perceived as inferior. 

 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/02/10/business/to-save-on-rail-lines-market-the-bus-line.html?referrer=&_r=0

 

Noooooo!  Say it ain't so.  All we need is better bus service and good marketing?  All that money wasted on rail.../EndGloat

 

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Noooooo! Say it ain't so. All we need is better bus service and good marketing? All that money wasted on rail.../EndGloat

Do you ride the metro bus to work?

Do you take a metro bus to specific activities on your leisure time? Like, say, the Rodeo or an Opera?

If you do, how do you like the experience? If you don't, why don't you?

Edited by UtterlyUrban
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A relevant piece from the NYT.

 

The short version: rail is far more expensive than bus service yet no faster, but rail lines continue to be built because bus service is perceived as inferior. 

 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/02/10/business/to-save-on-rail-lines-market-the-bus-line.html?referrer=&_r=0

 

Actual quote from article:  

 

 from most places in New York City, iwon’t be faster than taking existing bus service to the airport, because it will run southeast from the airport, away from Manhattan.

 

(the airport the article refers to is LaGuardia).  It stands to reason that going in the wrong direction might affect ride times...  :ph34r:

 

As for Oakland's rail replacement of the AirBart... as a percentage, the few minutes it saves is significant, and that's before factoring in frequency.  Beyond that, the AirBart bus had to stop at a number of lights and navigate several intersection turns.  It was a slightly less dramatic ride than the current Land Rover ad with the street car motorman throwing people all over the place by abruptly stopping to admire the car.

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132 is axed, so I'm trying to figure out how I get from Rogerdale at Harwin to Westheimer and Dunlavy at 8 PM at night. I guess I will have to bring bicycle and ride to 82 Westheimer, or ride to the 152 Harwin flyer. 

 

I'd guess the ride south is safer, traffic-wise from Rogerdale @ Harwin to Bellaire than going north, although they have improved Rogerdale with sidewalks north of Harwin.  Could you take 2 to the red line and then 82 back to Dunlavy?

 

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Do you ride the metro bus to work?

Do you take a metro bus to specific activities on your leisure time? Like, say, the Rodeo or an Opera?

If you do, how do you like the experience? If you don't, why don't you?

 

For various reasons, neither metro bus or rail service fits my needs.  So, when I do take either one I have to make a specific effort to do so.  That said, about a year ago I had a work day on my hands with no real work to do so I tooled around inside the loop on various buses and the llght rail.  Had a good time, saw a lot of stuff, but also spent a lot of time cumulatively waiting on buses and the train and walking to and fro between stops and destinations.  That's ok if I've got the day to kill, but not so much if there are things that need to be done (besides quaffing liters at Bar Munich).  I'm going to try it again once the new service is implemented to see what the improvements are like.

 

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A relevant piece from the NYT.

The short version: rail is far more expensive than bus service yet no faster, but rail lines continue to be built because bus service is perceived as inferior.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/02/10/business/to-save-on-rail-lines-market-the-bus-line.html?referrer=&_r=0

This is talking about buses with right of way

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Actual quote from article:

from most places in New York City, it won’t be faster than taking existing bus serviceto the airport, because it will run southeast from the airport, away from Manhattan.

(the airport the article refers to is LaGuardia). It stands to reason that going in the wrong direction might affect ride times... :ph34r:

As for Oakland's rail replacement of the AirBart... as a percentage, the few minutes it saves is significant, and that's before factoring in frequency. Beyond that, the AirBart bus had to stop at a number of lights and navigate several intersection turns. It was a slightly less dramatic ride than the current Land Rover ad with the street car motorman throwing people all over the place by abruptly stopping to admire the car.

There was a plan in the 90's that was shot down by nimbys in queens to make a train route that connected to routes that actually made sense. This is just helping developers who have a stake at the station it will connect to.

As far as Oakland this is a HUGE improvement over the bus. More frequent and faster.

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I like the new bus routes, hopefully the can spur an increase in ridership.  I also like how they've removed some redundant parallel bus routes and routes running next to the rail lines, I think they've used the interaction between bus and rail lines well here. 

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A relevant piece from the NYT.

 

The short version: rail is far more expensive than bus service yet no faster, but rail lines continue to be built because bus service is perceived as inferior. 

 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/02/10/business/to-save-on-rail-lines-market-the-bus-line.html?referrer=&_r=0

 

 

Do you ride the metro bus to work?

Do you take a metro bus to specific activities on your leisure time? Like, say, the Rodeo or an Opera?

If you do, how do you like the experience? If you don't, why don't you?

 

If i want to take the long way and get stuck in the same traffic i would have if i had been driving, ill take the bus. if i actually want to get where im going ill take the rail

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Actual quote from article:  

 

 from most places in New York City, iwon’t be faster than taking existing bus service to the airport, because it will run southeast from the airport, away from Manhattan.

 

(the airport the article refers to is LaGuardia).  It stands to reason that going in the wrong direction might affect ride times...  :ph34r:

 

As for Oakland's rail replacement of the AirBart... as a percentage, the few minutes it saves is significant, and that's before factoring in frequency.  Beyond that, the AirBart bus had to stop at a number of lights and navigate several intersection turns.  It was a slightly less dramatic ride than the current Land Rover ad with the street car motorman throwing people all over the place by abruptly stopping to admire the car.

 

Yeah, guess I should've provided more context when posting that. I don't necessarily expect NYC's experiences to carry over everywhere else, but I find it interesting when issues that are beaten to death here (such as rail vs. bus, or, God forbid, gentrification) surface in other parts in the country, often characterized by even more rancorous debates. 

 

The other day my wife, who works in the Galleria area, was without her car for the day, so she decided to do something she'd been talking about for a while: take the Red line rail downtown, then transfer to a bus for the remainder of the trip to her office. She was favorably impressed with the bus service, and noted that one advantage it had over rail was that buses don't stop at bus stops if there isn't anyone waiting to get on or signaling to get off. Total time door to door was just under an hour, so barring something worse than the usual awfulness on I-10 or the West Loop, driving is still significantly faster for her, but it's certainly a viable alternative. 

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I guess I'm not surprised (given one of the ways they were improving overall network service was decreasing the overkill in downtown), but this makes my bus commute from western edge of Midtown to western edge of downtown appreciably worse. Used to be I could pick up the 53, 81, 82 or 163 on Louisiana at MGowen, go straight north and get dropped off a block from work. Now I'm down to one option that will be running two blocks to the east of the current line, adding 4 blocks of walking.

 

I'm not too bummed at the moment since in this weather I bike or walk (it's only about 25 min, which is only a few minutes more than taking the bus), but I'll probably have a stronger opinion when it's sweltering in August and they roll this out. 

 

Oh well, time for Midtown to revive that free trolley into downtown that we had in the early '00s. (I'm not imagining that, right? That was a thing? I think I didn't start working in downtown until after it stopped running, but my friends took it.)

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Oh well, time for Midtown to revive that free trolley into downtown that we had in the early '00s. (I'm not imagining that, right? That was a thing? I think I didn't start working in downtown until after it stopped running, but my friends took it.)

 

Yes.  Definitely used to be a thing.

 

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Downtown-trolleys-to-stop-rolling-April-1-1914402.php

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Thanks for the link, kind of fascinating. The article says ithe old free trolley started in 98, ridership peaked at 10,384 daily boardings in 2001, then had dropped to 5,011 by 2004 at which point Metro reconfigured routes/cut service and it immediately dropped to 2,000, then added a 50-cent fare late in 2004 which dropped it to 300 and so they killed it in 2005.

 

Article doesn't attempt to explain why boardings dropped from 10k to 5k, so it seems it was "organic" and not due to route/service changes. The article does quote the reason for starting the service as being to help relieve congestion caused by the big downtown street redo, which started in 98 and was mostly completed by 2005. (I vaguely remember all that, and man - downtown streets were a nightmare in the early '00s -- just crazy how much was constantly torn up. Rainy days,we might as well have built our CBD in an unpaved swamp.) So my guess is that the roads were so bad that a chunk of people were happy to park outside downtown and then trolley in? But they gradually got better so more people drove straight to downtown.

 

The Greenlink is a free METRO service that circulates people around downtown.

 

Yeah, but unlike the old trolley it doesn't even get close to Midtown -- doesn't go south of Pease. I'm sure it's good for what it's for, but for me I'd only take it four blocks from Polk to Pease on my way home (not worth it). And on my way in I'd have to do an extra two blocks of walking just to use it for those four.

 

Maybe Downtown and Midtown can get together on a joint circulator. Something that ran in roughly a (digital alarm clock's) figure 8, with Pierce Elevated or similar being the middle horizontal line. If they ran two routes that were roughly the same except but in opposite directions, would give a lot of good coverage with no transfers.

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Yeah, I used the rail a lot when my office was Main. But last year we moved west to Smith, which (since I live three blocks west of Bagby) puts the rail 4 blocks out of my way -- meaning an extra 8 blocks (vs walking) on any trip. According to google, if I just walk it's 1.3 miles (27 minutes); if I take the train it's 1.0 miles of walking plus 3 train stops (total 25 min assuming the train is waiting for me when I get to the station).

 

The new bus routes will still be slightly better distance-wise for me than the train (I assume, depending on where the stops are) because the 82 will run north on Travis and south on Milam, but less frequent most of the time and less reliable.

 

Anyways, hope I'm not coming off as too whiny. I was expecting this to be the case -- I always knew I had it too good with all the different lines routed through downtown/midtown that fit my commute (53,81,82,163). When Christof described how overserved downtown is (with the old system forcing so many folks to connect through downtown, despite Houston being "multicentric"), I knew that the odds were that the reimagining would negatively impact my commute. Just a little bummed now that I see it on paper - and thinking that after this goes in I'll probably only be using Metro on days when it's pouring or I'm going to literally sweat through my shirt. (Or maybe I'll just Uber it those days- I had sworn off Houston taxis for being completely unreliable, but Uber is the bomb diggity.)

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Yeah, I used the rail a lot when my office was Main. But last year we moved west to Smith, which (since I live three blocks west of Bagby) puts the rail 4 blocks out of my way -- meaning an extra 8 blocks (vs walking) on any trip. According to google, if I just walk it's 1.3 miles (27 minutes); if I take the train it's 1.0 miles of walking plus 3 train stops (total 25 min assuming the train is waiting for me when I get to the station).

The new bus routes will still be slightly better distance-wise for me than the train (I assume, depending on where the stops are) because the 82 will run north on Travis and south on Milam, but less frequent most of the time and less reliable.

Anyways, hope I'm not coming off as too whiny. I was expecting this to be the case -- I always knew I had it too good with all the different lines routed through downtown/midtown that fit my commute (53,81,82,163). When Christof described how overserved downtown is (with the old system forcing so many folks to connect through downtown, despite Houston being "multicentric"), I knew that the odds were that the reimagining would negatively impact my commute. Just a little bummed now that I see it on paper - and thinking that after this goes in I'll probably only be using Metro on days when it's pouring or I'm going to literally sweat through my shirt. (Or maybe I'll just Uber it those days- I had sworn off Houston taxis for being completely unreliable, but Uber is the bomb diggity.)

I know what you mean walking beats the bus/train just because of timing and it's good exercise

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  • 4 months later...

I was driving down Washington Ave as it turns in to Old Katy Rd. And while I love the reimagined bus routes, I noticed some stops are basically located on random old lots or right next to grassy patches on the side of Hempstead Rd, with no logical access to the stops either and no nicely paved sidewalks for pedestrians. So my question is, why doesn't Metro get rid of these routes? They don't seem safe to access, and my initial thought was if someone get's dropped off at one of these locations, they have to go through a lot of trouble just to go to an area safe enough to walk. I thought the entire idea of the plan was to get rid of stops that don't make sense, and none of these stops make sense. If I'm not mistaken, when I was at a red light, I noticed the bus stop for buses 66 and 32 to give an example of what I'm talking about. 

Edited by j_cuevas713
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Heh, just saw all the discussion in here about an old midtown trolley/shuttle. I mentioned something along those lines in a rail thread..

A midtown streetcar or "GreenLink" with a few light rail stops would be ideal.. Have it hit the local bars at nights and cruise the residential areas during the day.

So yeah.. Why don't they bring something like this back? The residential population in midtown is bigger than ever and I would presume the bar scene is quite a bit more established now than it was 15 years ago.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm actually going to test the the new network whenever possible. I'm even going the extreme route and parking my car at a park n ride and taking the bus all the way to work into town! If I need to get anywhere in town? Using the bus. Should be an interesting experiment!

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I'm actually going to test the the new network whenever possible. I'm even going the extreme route and parking my car at a park n ride and taking the bus all the way to work into town! If I need to get anywhere in town? Using the bus. Should be an interesting experiment!

 

Good luck!  Keep us updated. 

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