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Taking METRO to Weekend Happenings

Weekend happenings

Event: Get into the holiday spirit at the free Winter Holiday Art Market, a gala that is part festival, part party. It features more than 60 local artists in a winter wonderland of paintings, jewelry, clothing and more. You'll enjoy art, food, live music and an open bar.  

When: Saturday, Nov. 22, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 23, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fresh Arts logo

Where: Winter Street Studios at 2101 Winter St.

Bus: 66 Yale, 50 Heights or 85 Antoine

Event: Renowned French filmmaker Francois Truffaut was greatly influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, and the 1983   Confidentially Yours is a type of homage to Hitchcock. This was Truffaut's last movie, and it ends the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's two-month tribute to Truffaut. This black-and-white film noir features actress Fanny Ardant, who plays girl Friday to discontent Jean-Louis Trintignant, accused of murder. Catch it at 7 p.m. on Nov. 22.

When: Saturday, Nov. 22, 7 p.m.

MFA Films logoWhere: MFA, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet.

METRORAIL:  The Red Line (North Line). Exit Museum District Station.

Bus: Take 65 Bissonnet, 8 West Bellfort, 1 Hospital or 60 South McGregor.

Event: The controversies swirling around Mozart's Requiem makes for a compelling story, even though research has shown them to be fiction. Listen to the Houston Symphony perform the Requiem, commissioned by an anonymous patron to commemorate the death of his wife. Mozart died before he finished writing it, and his widow commissioned several composers to complete the score.

Also on the program are Beethoven's Overture to Coriolan and Overture to Egmont, as well as Brahms' Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny).

Where: Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana

When: 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday

METRORail: Red Line (North Line) Exit Preston StationHouston Symphony logo

Bus: 44 Acres Home, 137 North Shore, 20 Long Point, 85 Antoine, 163 Fondren, 88 Hobby Airport (Saturday only), 131 Memorial (Saturday only), 78 Irvington, 3 West Gray, 56 Airline, 102 Bush Airport, 82 Westheimer, 53 Westheimer, 81 Westheimer, 18 Kirby (Saturday only), 52 Scott, 11 Almeda, 30 Cullen, 77 MLK, 80 Dowling, 66 Yale, 5 Southmore

You can use Goolge Trip Planner to time your trip and determine which bus to take.


Congrats to CEO Tom Lambert

CEO Tom Lambert receiving recognition for 35 years at METRO

METRO President & CEO Tom Lambert was recognized by the board today for 35 years of loyal service to the agency.

Lambert has held the top post since Feb. 27 and was doing that on an interim basis since January 2013.  Board Chairman Gilbert Garcia presented Lambert with a crystal cowboy boot because "he always uses the boot to get things done," said Garcia.

That was followed by the unveiling of a framed poster from the movie, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" with Lambert's face edited onto the face of Clint Eastwood. "Tell me the good, the bad and the ugly. That's one of his big themes in general," said Garcia, to the laughter of board members.

Lambert said the presentation surprised him and thanked everyone who works with him.

"I've had a great opportunity to work with some very, very committed people for 35 years," said Lambert. "Where you can make the lives of people better each and every day...that's what public service is all about."

Congratulations, Tom!


How Do You Get to Work?


If you live in Pearland you probably don’t use public transit to get to work while, if you live in Conroe, 22 percent of you carpool.

That’s according to data from the U.S. Census. In Houston, the average drive time to work is 29.1 minutes. Seventy-five percent of Houstonians drive alone, 12 percent carpool, 4 percent use public transit and 4 percent work from home.

Click the slideshow from the Houston Chronicle to see how other surrounding communities get to work, including Sugar Land, Webster and The Woodlands.

How does Houston compare with other big cities? In Los Angeles, 11 percent use public transit, while in New York, 57 percent catch a train or bus.

Dallas, Austin and San Antonio all have the same percentage rates as Houston in terms of public transit usage: 4 percent.

If you’ve never hopped on METRO, it’s only $1.25 one way for a local bus or train.  Students, seniors and the disabled ride for half price. Seniors 70 years old or more ride free, as well as children under age 5.

Click here to learn more about the METRO Q® Fare Card, a card that stores your cash balance. Fares are automatically deducted from the card like a debit card – just tap and ride. You earn five free rides for every 50 paid rides on your Q Card. 

Curious about how the system works? Take a seat on METRO 360 and familiarize yourself with our transit system and key features before you ride.


Bullet Train Connecting Dallas, Ft. Worth...and Houston

Bullet train

Plans for a high-speed bullet train from Dallas to Fort Worth are expected to be revealed this week by state transportation officials. The project will try to piggyback on plans for a high-speed rail line from Dallas to Houston, reports of The Dallas Morning News.

Officials at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) are analyzing funding options and potential routes which would link the biggest cities in Texas and eventually run from South Texas to Oklahoma City.

In addition to funding and route, TxDOT must determine what type of train will run. It could opt for  state-run trains or pay Texas Central Railway, a private company, to run its trains on TxDOT tracks so Houston passengers could enjoy one seat from Houston to Fort Worth.

An important decision will be selecting a station on the Dallas end of the line. TxDOT prefers to tie the line into Texas Central's  developer's planned line to Houston.

Would you ride a bullet train to Dallas or Fort Worth?

Partial Rail Shutdown Today

Rider Alert icon

There is no train service between UH-Downtown and the Downtown Transit Center through rush hour today. Electrical problems at Main & Capitol have caused a power shutdown.

We will be operating 700 "rail shuttle" buses during this shutdown.

Party Down on Rails to Restaurants

Graphic on Rails to Restaurants 

Bundle up and stay warm as Houston Greeters and METRO invite you to celebrate Houston's Citizenship Month with a party on METRORail tonight from 6 to 9 p.m.

Similar to the progressive dinners in the 1970s in which invitees ate one course at one person's home, then traveled to the next home for the next course, this "Rails to Restaurants" event will introduce you to great food and drinks along the rail.

Houston Greeters and METRO are hosting this event that will offer small bites, drinks, desserts, coffee and live music and dance. You can even get a free tango lesson.

Tickets are only $20. You can register at UHD South Deck from 6 to 6:45 p.m. and there's limited, free parking at the UHD lot.  Click here for more details.

Riders Invited to System Reimagining Workshop Saturday at Kashmere MSC

METRO's Board of Directors and staff are encouraging transit users, and their families, to attend a workshop Saturday, Nov.15 from 10 a.m. to noon. The meeting's purpose is to gather input from the community regarding public transit and how best to proceed with METRO's System Reimagining plans. 

The meeting, at the Kashmere Multi-Service Center is being coordinated with State Representative Harold Dutton's office and is an opportunity for planners to gain a better understanding of the transit needs of the Kashmere Gardens/Fifth Ward communities, and what the impacts of flex zones might be. There will be facilitated table discussions on specific routes.

  discuss Reimagining map











 Reimagining logo

Attendees can take the 5 Kashmere or the 80 Lyons bus routes for convenient service to the meeting.

Kashmere Multi-Service Ctr.
4802 Lockwood Dr., Houston, 77026 

Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014
10 a.m. to Noon


Free Rides for Veterans on Nov. 11

Images of saluting veterans with flag

On Veterans Day next Tuesday, METRO salutes all veterans by giving free rides that day.

If you're a retired veteran or in active military service, hop aboard METRORail, or ride a local or commuter bus (Park & Ride), or METROLift - and don't pay a dime.

Texas has the nation's second largest population of veterans who make up 8.6 percent of the state's population, according to the Texas Workforce Investment Council. Harris County is home to about 186,000 veterans. We welcome all of you to try out METRO if you've never ridden with us before.

After Veterans Day, continue to ride METRO. Fare is only $1.25 and half price for seniors ages 65 to 69; students and the disabled. Seniors 70 years old and older ride free.

You can load a METRO Q® Fare Card with money and simply tap, and you're on your way. You get five free rides for every 50 paid rides. Pick up a Q Card at these retailers or at the RideStore at 1900 Main.


METRO Dances to Premiere

Frame Dance Production Co. dancing

A Houston contemporary dance company will premiere METRO DANCES on a stage in motion: METRORail.

Frame Dance Productions is expected to unveil a new dance this Saturday, Nov. 8, at 4 p.m. at the Hermann Park/Rice U Station and finish at the Preston Station with a final performance in Market Square.

The new work, METRO DANCES, features percussion by Charles Halka, a composer of acoustic and electronic music for concert, dance and opera. Frame Dance Productions was founded in 2010 by Lydia Hance, whose vision was to connect technology and dance with diverse artists.

You're invited to ride the rail with the dance company and watch this new dance on and off the Red Line. Buy a METRORail ticket for $1.25 - and enjoy a Saturday afternoon of dance in motion.

First Female Leads Police Force

MPD Chief Vera BumpersMETRO promoted an African American woman to lead its police force – the first female and the first black to do so.

Vera Bumpers caps a career that spans more than 30 years at METRO by holding the top police post. She joined METRO before the agency had a police force.

“I started in 1981 and, at that time, it was a security department,” recalled Bumpers. “There were no more than 30 of us – like a little family. It was overwhelming for me coming to a big city. I came right out of college.”

The San Antonio native earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Texas State University – the same school where former MPD Chief and now President & CEO Tom Lambert earned his degree.

Bumpers also holds a graduate degree from Prairie View A&M University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.  At METRO, she has been a pioneer by being the first woman to serve on every level of command -  officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and assistant police chief.

The new police chief said she will emphasize communication, cooperation and commitment and hopes to develop future leaders at MPD. She replaces Tim Kelly who is now executive vice president of Operations,  Public Safety & Customer Service. 

Seniors Learn to Ride METRO

Montage of event

About 100 seniors gathered for an eye-opening workshop on how to ride METRO's local buses and trains.

The travel training workshop on Oct. 30 was co-sponsored by AARP, Neighborhood Centers, Sheltering Arms Senior Services and METRO. The event focused on elders and people with disabilities.

"Many of the customers had not been on a bus in 30 years and had a different image of our buses, and of course, they had not been on the rail. These customers said they were now more encouraged to use our transit system," said Hilda Montemayor, manager of ADA Compliance and Paratransit.  "The event was a huge success."

Attendees were so enthusiastic after the event, several sent emails to thank METRO for the session.

Emma Randolph with AARP emailed, "Thank you so much for sponsoring the Travel Training event on Oct. 30. Your personnel were outstanding. They were so nice, pleasant and they did a wonderful job."

After watching a "How to Ride" video, the group learned about System Reimagining, our massive redesign of local bus routes to make the system more efficient and convenient. Later MPD talked about security on the system and K-9 Alex accompanied the group on a field trip riding bus and train. The tour concluded with a boxed lunch, courtesy of AARP Texas.

Janis Scott, a METRO patron known as "The Bus Lady," emailed METRO: "The event at the Leonel Castillo Community Center on South Street today was executed beyond my expectations...We made new connections, reconnected with old acquaintances and had a good time."

Montemayor said attendees asked for more events like this in the future.

Free Rides Tomorrow

Buttons that say, "Vote"

METRO is offering a free ride to all local riders traveling to the polls on Election Day tomorrow.

To qualify for this free ride, all you need to do is present your voter's registration card to the bus operator. You can also ride free on METRORail.

The free ride does not apply to our Park & Ride routes.

So get out and vote - and hop on a local bus to get to your polling place!


First Downtown Bike Lane Delayed

Woman riding bike in a bike lane

Earlier, we blogged that the city's first downtown dedicated bike lane would be ready by fall. Now it's been delayed because the only company that can furnish the humps that separate the lane from main traffic is overwhelmed with orders.

The city's Department of Public Works and Engineering had promised work would start on the on-street bicycle lane in September and be completed in a few weeks. But the rubberized humps - called "armadillos" - that would separate vehicle lanes from the nine-foot-wide bike lane is supplied by a European company, the sole supplier of "armadillos." Now they're on back order, and the city hope to have the lanes by year end.

The 11-block bike lane will connect Discovery Green on the east of downtown to Sam Houston Park on the west, giving cyclists easy access to nearby trails. The two-way bike lane will take about six to seven weeks to convert and will be painted green as a visual warning for drivers to stay off.

"It shows the city is evolving and moving to the next step in terms of the built environment for cyclists," Michael Payne, executive director of Bike Houston, told the Houston Chronicle.  


Celebrate Halloween with Zoo Boo
Kids in Halloween costume
Bring your little ghosts and goblins to Houston’s biggest family-friendly Halloween event. Get decked out in your scariest – or prettiest – outfit and enjoy Zoo Boo at the Houston Zoo. Wander through a pumpkin patch, choose your favorite pumpkin, then paint it into a jack-o-lantern. 
Wander through animal-themed stations for some trick-or-treating and satisfy that sweet tooth. Monsters aren’t just in your imagination. Color them in a monstrous mural. Check out the Tatzoo Parlor for a temporary tattoo, then visit the Candy Cave where you’ll see larger-than-life peppermints and lollipops.
Zoo Boo is on Friday, Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Getting there by bus: 1 Hospital; 34 Montrose Crosstown; 8 South Main; 298 Addicks/Northwest TC; 292 West Bellfort/Westwood.
Getting there by METRORail: Take the Red Line (North Line) going southbound, exit Memorial Hermann Hospital/Houston Zoo Station.
METRO Wins AdWheel Award

Award-winning rail safety banner 

METRO captured First Place in the 2014 Annual AdWheel Awards competition last week.

Equivalent to Hollywood's Oscar, this prestigious award recognizes outstanding work and creative excellence among public transportation systems in advertising, communications, marketing and promotion.

METRO received the award for the METRORail University of Houston safety banner, submitted under print media for transit agencies with greater than 20 million annual passenger trips.

"It was a great honor to win the award for the second year in a row," said Michael Martinez, director of Stakeholder Affairs at METRO. "This reflects METRO's commitment to educating the public regarding rail safety and providing them with first-class safety information."

METRO received the award at a special ceremony on Oct. 13 during the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) 2014 Annual Meeting & Expo at the George R. Brown Convention Center. More than 500 entries competed this year in the five categories of print, electronic, campaign, special event and social media.

"We salute the creative efforts put forth by the award winners to market public transportation and communicate the many benefits it provides to individuals, as well as helping communities grow," said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy.

Click here to see a list of all the 2014 APTA AdWheel winners.

A Lost Wallet and a Bus Operator


Walter McBride, bus operator who took the time to find the rightful owner to a lost wallet on the streetWalter McBride was driving to work when he saw an expensive-looking wallet laying on Holcombe Street in the Medical Center.

A METRO bus operator for 37 years, McBride stopped his car and picked it up. "It looked valuable. There was a contact number - in case of emergency," he recalled.

It was Sept. 25 when Andre Humphery received a call from McBride. The wallet belonged to Humphery's 84-year-old father, James ("Bo") Humphery.

"My dad told me he went to a Shipley's Donut shop and left his wallet on top of the car," said Andre Humphery.

McBride said he thinks the wallet had been run over once. "He had a bunch of credit cards in there. I was trying to catch (the owner) before he canceled them," said McBride.

McBride and the younger Humphery played phone tag before meeting at the Texas Medical Center Transit Center at Fannin and Pressler to return the wallet. Everything was intact.

"I think it's just admirable. How many times in this day and age do you have this type of ethics when no one is looking? It's amazing he did it," said Humphery. "These are the core values that METRO or any other employer cannot teach. You can try to train an employee at this point, but an employee must hold these types of core values innately. I think it was awesome, and McBride was an incredible guy for returning the wallet."

For McBride, it was simply doing the right thing. "I believe in treating people like you want people to treat you," he said.

And there's a personal connection to this story of the lost wallet. It turns out the senior Humphery, a coach in the Houston Independent School District for 40 years, had coached McBride's brother decades ago. The former coach and student still keep in touch, said Humphery.

Partial Rail Shutdown & Building Implosion


METRORail Rider Alert signThis weekend, you'll need to allow extra time to travel if you're downtown.

First, the Houston Club Building at 811 Rusk is scheduled to be imploded early Sunday morning.  METRO will detour select bus service in the area today from 7 p.m. through Sunday, Oct. 19, until 2 p.m., or until it is safe for operations to resume.

Click here to find out if your route is affected.

Second, METRORail will be partially shut down on Sunday, Oct. 19, from the start of service until 5 p.m. This service will stop between the Downtown Transit Center and the Northline Transit Center due to construction activity related to METRORail expansion.

We'll have dedicated "700 Rail Shuttle" buses every 10 minutes during regular rail service hours. If the work cannot be completed by Sunday at 5 p.m., the bus "rail shuttles" will continue through Monday, Oct. 20.

Thanks for your patience as we build your light-rail system.


Need Money? Speak Up and Complain


U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at APTA meeting in HoustonTransit service depends on federal dollars  - and local transit stakeholders need to raise their voices and "get loud" to demand more funding.

That was the message from the nation's top transportation official, speaking on Tuesday to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA ) Expo & Annual Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center.  U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that a lack of investment in infrastructure is diminishing the economic health of regions like Houston.

"We have a responsibility collectively to remind this country, when the wheels of transportation grind to a halt, so does its economy," said Foxx.

The most recent six-year federal transportation bill expired in 2009, and many transit agencies are left limping along, trying to plan long-term projects.

"Given the great needs we have as a country when it comes to infrastructure, given the growth that we see coming down the pike, given the backlog of maintenance needs, why are we not doing more? If the American people are swiping their Metro cards and passing through turnstiles in record numbers, why aren't we investing more to meet their needs?" asked Foxx.

Read more of Foxx's comments here on his Fast Lane blog.

Day 3 of APTA

Scenes from APTA Expo 2014

On a picture-perfect fall day, hundreds of APTA Expo conference-goers stayed inside the George R. Brown Convention Center to stroll through hundreds of exhibits.  This was Day 3 of the world's biggest transportation showcase with more than 800 vendors displaying their most innovative products.

Two double-decker buses were parked inside. There was a train simulator by Alstom. I got to drive a light-rail car in the simulator,Mary at train simulator screeched on the brakes and still missed the passengers standing at the station, then slammed right into a vehicle crossing in front of me. Driving the simulator was lots of fun and helped me develop a new appreciation for our rail operators.

Not all the demos were about technology. One vendor gave away a service that required two hands and muscles - chair massages. It was a great way to top off the afternoon.

Watch this brief video to meet some of the attendees who came to Houston from around the nation - and around the world - to experience this event. If you have issues viewing the video below, please go to You Tube.

<a href="/images/write_on/Apta_Day3.wmv"><img src="/Themes/default/images/video.gif" border = "0" width="498" height="280"></a><br /><a href = "/images/write_on/Apta_Day3.wmv">View Video</a><br />Format: wmv<br />Duration: 3:43

Creating Infrastructure

Allen Watson, METRO Board vice chairmanWhat's the connection between good infrastructure and public transportation?

Allen Watson, METRO Board Vice Chairman, talked with KUHF's Gail Delaughter yesterday at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo, a giant triennial event featuring the latest solutions and technology in transportation.

Watson addresses the issue of obtaining funding for large-scale transit projects.

Click here to listen to the report.

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