City's First Signature Bus Service to Launch in August
Thursday, January 31, 2008 4:29 PM
Houston will soon see its first Signature Bus Service, which offers commuters fewer stops, upgraded buses and more modern, comfortable bus stops.
METRO's Board of Directors approved last month a contract that calls for Signature Bus Service to be on our roads by mid-August. You may be noticing enhanced bus shelters and furnishings, which we're installing this month.
We'll initially offer this Quickline Signature Bus Service on three routes, totaling 18 miles: Bellaire,Texas Medical Center/Palm and Tidwell. Future plans call for 28 miles of Signature service on Westheimer and Gessner.
The QL2 Bellaire will operate along with the existing Route 2 Bellaire service, running a nine-mile route from the Sam Houston Tollway in the west to the Texas Medical Center Transit Center in the east. It will run every 15 minutes, only during peak weekday morning and afternoon periods. There will be nine stops in each direction, including Bellaire Transit Center.
This Quickline service will be 10 minutes faster than the current Route 2 Bellaire service since it will only have nine stops compared to the 12 stops on the existing Route 2 Bellaire run.
And if you ride this route, be prepared for a more pleasant wait. We're upgrading our bus stops - think economy to first class. Right now, for example, the bus stop at Bellaire and Gessner is a Standard Type 4 shelter with concrete sidewalks, a pad area, a standard route sign and cluttered newsstands.
The new and improved bus stops will feature upgraded shelters and furniture, pavers and bus arrival lights. We'll have real-time bus arrival information on screens. For example, waiting commuters would see: "Next Bus in 9 Min."
The new bus stops will sport half-moon shaped standing walls and a slatted rooftop, along with a lamp pole with a curved modern S-shape design running down the length of the pole. Banners on light standards will showcase our stops.
The Quickline buses will be state-of-the-art: hybrid-electric drive vehicles with carpeted sidewalls and upgraded seats for a quieter ride; upgraded destination signs; interior security cameras; an air-cleaning system that can eradicate more than 95 percent of known airborne, biological toxins; and an improved climate-control system.
The technology along this route will also be changed. We'll reduce the run time by optimizing traffic signal timing, and we'll have transit signal priority using Opticom, a system that gives intersection right of way to authorized vehicles. We'll also improve key intersections at South Gessner Road, South Rice Avenue and South First Street, using a technique called "queue jumping" that allows the bus to jump to the front of the line ahead of other vehicles into a right or left turn bay.
The Quickline will cost the same as regular service to ride: $1.