METRO's reimagined bus system a big winner
Last week METRO released their proposed plan
to overhaul the bus network, and it is mighty impressive. Atlantic Cities is enthusiastic and has an excellent short article with an overview of the improvements: "Houston's Plan to Get an Amazing New Bus System for No New Money
". It contains 3 very compelling graphs
- A map of how much the frequent network has expanded with service every 15 minutes or better (bigger version here). There is another graph here showing how much bigger it is than Dallas, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Salt Lake, Denver, and Portland. Definitely an impressive feat to beat all of those cities.
- A graph showing how the new network connects a million people to a million jobs on the high-frequency network, a improvement of 50-100% over the existing network.
- A graph showing how many more potential riders are closer to higher frequency service.
Overall, METRO is hoping the new plan, if implemented, will increase ridership 20% over the next two years, something they definitely need after years of declines. Let me throw a few more stats on the plan at you from Christof's excellent Twitter feed
- UH to Greenway Plaza, current system: 65 min. Proposed network: 40 min
- Analyzed 870 trips across system: 58% are 10 minutes or more faster, including 28% more than 20 minutes faster.
- Current boardings within 1/4 mile of frequent service — today: 49% weekday, 25% weekend. Reimagined: 73% weekday, 73% weekend.
- Every route will run on Saturday and Sunday — and "frequent" means every 15 minutes, 15 hours/day, 7 days a week.
I especially like that last point. If people know it will always be there, 7 days a week, they're more likely to use it. I also liked that they simplified and straightened the routes. Even in a world of Google Maps routings, it's better have a simple system people can wrap their heads around so they can easily imagine how they would get from one point to another.
“Another major change is proposed for certain little-used bus routes, notably in the northeast part of the city. Under the plan, rather than running on fixed routes, buses in designated "flex zones" would circulate around the neighborhood and carry passengers to a spot within the zone or to a point of transfer to another bus line. Riders would call in and the bus would collect them. Smaller buses that Metro began operating last year would likely run the flex routes, officials said.”
A few final items:
Kudos to METRO, Christof, and everyone involved over there for putting the needed hard work into this high-value but not-very-flashy project. Getting the basics right is just as important (if not more so) than the high-profile ribbon cuttings for things like new rail lines. Now it's time to push this thing past the change-resisters and get it implemented ASAP.
Labels: Metro, mobility strategies, transit, transportation plan