What's the state of transportation in our region?
With METRO about to launch the extended North/Red Line on Dec. 21 - and two more lines in 2014 - the landscape of public transit in Houston is changing.
The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) sponsored a panel earlier today called "State of Transportation in Texas" with State Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso). GHP tweeted live from the event. To read the thread of key messages and discussion on the subject, go to Twitter and plug in the hash tag #HouinMotion.
Tom Lambert, METRO's interim president & CEO, said, "The quality of our transportation system relies on all our engagement in the issue." You can view highlights of Lambert's comments on our Twitter page.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, also on the panel, said, "I'm excited about the North and Harrisburg lines because I think they'll fundamentally change METRO."
If you live or work in the Energy Corridor, here’s good news: You can
ride METRO free every Friday on the 75 Eldridge Crosstown bus.
Free Ride Fridays will give residents and employees in the Energy
Corridor free rides until September 2014. The 75 Eldridge Crosstown
route connects commuters to downtown, the Texas Medical Center and other
important employment hubs.
Launched by the Energy Corridor District (ECD), Free Ride Fridays is
designed to encourage commuters to try METRO’s buses on the 75 Eldridge
Crosstown route, leaving their cars behind during the busy holiday
“We’ve found that once people ride the 75 Eldridge in the Energy
Corridor, they’re likely to try it again because it is a clean, pleasant
and affordable alternative to driving,” says John Nunez, the ECD’s
More than 80 percent of the patrons who use the 75 Eldridge Crosstown use it to commute to and from work.
“Taking the 75 Eldridge is a relaxing way to get around the Energy
Corridor,” says Kelly Rector, an ECD employee, who commutes often on
METRO. “Being able to leave your car and the stress of driving at home
is a rewarding experience.”
The free rides are funded by a Federal Transit Administration grant.
Buddy the Elf, along with two of his elf friends, rode METRORail today at noon, greeting customers, searching for Santa's whereabouts and asking for candy. They also burst out in song, caroling everything from "Drummer Boy" to "Jingle Bells."
On board the rail and making several stops to mingle with riders, the elves promoted the Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) musical, Elf - The Musical, now playing at Hobby Center.
Patrons were amused at the unexpected sight of visitors from the North Pole in downtown Houston. "Only in America," said one passenger.
Elijah Smith, 69, sat at the Main Street Square Station with his bicycle and smiled when the elves approached him. "I love it," he said. "That's the first time it's brought the spirit into me. I love those little elves."
Smith, who rides 25 miles on weekends, said he rides METRO all the time, combining bike, bus and rail to get around.
The two young elves, Pepper Mintstix and Salty Snow, swung on the poles in the train, passed out brochures about the musical and helped Buddy look for candy. It was the first time either elf had taken METRO. They both said they loved it - but admitted it wasn't as much fun as Santa's sleigh.
Pepper Mintstix in pink was played by Alexa Magro, 14, and Salty Snow in blue was played by Savannah May, 13. Buddy was played by Jason Broussard. All the actors are from Houston, and the youngsters are acting students at TUTS' Humphreys School of Musical Theatre.
For lucky passengers, the elves were a midday surprise that made the holiday season a little brighter.
If you have a chance to ride METRORail tomorrow at noon, you'll encounter some very special visitors straight from the North Pole.
Buddy the Elf and some of his elf friends are leaving Santa's sleigh behind and riding METRORail during the lunch hour. The elves will greet riders while continuing to perform their usual North Pole duties.
The special visit is courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) and METRO, which teamed up to celebrate the holiday show, Elf - The Musical, and offer commuters a festive treat.
Buddy the Elf and his elf friends will ride the rail from the Downtown Transit Center (DTC) to UH-Downtown and back to the DTC.
And if you are in Midtown tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., look out for a few sneak visits from Santa. Sponsored by Midtown Houston , Midtown, Spot the Santa will feature easy clues posted on Midtown social media to spot Santa. He'll be using all modes of transportation in Midtown, including METRORail, Houston B-Cycle, his feet and a convertible red sleigh.
"Fun and quirky, the Santas highlight just how easy it is to get around Midtown whether you're walking, riding your bike or catching the rail," said Midtown Houston.
At around noon, a four-Santa command performance will occur at The Ensemble Theatre's children's production of Djembe and the Forest of Christmas Forgotten. The Santas and the Houston Community College Central Campus choir will perform for 200 children. Later, the four Santas and the HCC choir will board METRORail at the Ensemble/HCC stop and ride to Midtown.
Get in a holiday mood and step out on METRORail tomorrow for fun and some enchanting visitors.
METRO is throwing a party, and you're invited.
The grand opening of our new North/Red Line is Saturday, Dec. 21 - just in time for the holidays. We will have a free concert for you, and you won't want to miss it.
Musical groups scheduled to perform are: A.B. Quintanilla III y Los Kumbia King All Starz; Mango Punch; Fama and special guest Támar Davis.
The celebration is from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. We'll also have local, northside vendors, along with food trucks. So come join the party - and ride free on METRO on grand opening day.
Houston, we've got a 50-ton holiday gift for you this season.
Our extended new North/Red Line is getting ready to open to the public on Dec. 21 - and we've got a newly wrapped holiday train to celebrate. It just went into service today, so if you ride the rail regularly, you'll probably see it.
Designed by our award-winning, in-house marketing team, the festive train wrap features a giant Santa Claus, with a gift tag tucked under his arm. The tag reads: Open December 21, 2013. Snow is falling against a sky-blue background with a huge red ribbon wrapping the side of the train, punctuated by colorful packages topped with ribbons and bows.
Come ride with us and start celebrating.
America’s love affair with the car is waning.
A new report says that the number of workers who get to work
by private car declined in 99 of America’s 100 largest urbanized areas,
according to the Atlantic
This “journey to work” data was calculated using the 2007-2011 American Community Survey, comparing
it to the year 2000. Austin was included among the top four cities with the
biggest declines – a decline of 4 percent or more. The other three were the New
York-Newark area; Washington, D.C.; and Poughkeepsie-Newburgh, New York.
to read the entire report, ‘Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing
Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities,” by B. Davis and P. Baxandall.
Among some of the fascinating finds: Most urban areas have seen an increase in
public transit and bicycle commuting, along with decreases in the percentage of households owning
If you've never traveled on a METRO bus or train, the process may be unfamiliar. Now METRO is making it easy and fun - especially for seniors and people with disabilities.
METRO is offering free Travel Training, customized to your needs. The Travel Training class is open to everyone who wants to enjoy commute options. There is no age restriction or disability requirement, although lately, we've been focusing on seniors and people with disabilities. We can train small groups or individuals.
You'll learn the skills to use all our services - including local, fixed-route buses, Park & Ride buses and METRORail. Seniors and those with a valid ADA/METROLift card can ride the regular bus and rail services at a discounted rate, and personal attendants of ADA/METROLift riders can ride at no charge.
You'll learn how and where to get a Q Card, how to plan your trip, how to board and exit with a mobility device, how to request a stop on the bus. We'll even accompany you on trips until you are comfortable enough to go solo. Click here for more details.
If you've got some time off this holiday season, now is the perfect time to schedule a Travel Training class. Call 713-652-8016, and let us design a class just for you.
Where can you toss snowballs in Houston and make snow angels on the ground?
At METRO's North Line grand opening coming up.
You are invited to the METRORail free concert celebration, observing the grand opening of the METRO North/Red Line, operational on Saturday, Dec. 21
Our party marking this milestone is the same day in Moody Park on Fulton Street. We'll have some terrific musical groups, along with tons of snow for the kids. There will be food vendors and a children's play area that will include inflatable moonwalks and slides for kids to bounce and jump on.
This event is free and open to the public. More details coming on this blog. Stay tuned.
On Thanksgiving, most of us will be spending time with
family and friends, giving thanks for all our blessings.
Some will be celebrating with the 64th annual Thanksgiving Day Parade
downtown or running the TXU
Energy Turkey Trot. All these activities will result in some detours.
here to find out if the bus route you are planning to take is affected.
And if you are planning to hit the sales on Black Friday,
consider riding METRO. You’ll save gas and avoid circling around searching for
that elusive parking spot.
Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving! Stay warm.
If you haven't been driving around the north side of Houston, then you may not realize that our new North/Red Line is almost ready for operation. It will be open to the public on Dec. 21.
The new 5.3-mile North/Red Line extends the current Main Street Line and runs through the heart of the historic Northside, an area that developed in the 1880s with the expansion of the Hardy Rail Lines. The newly extended North/Red Line runs north on North Main to Boundary, crosses east to Fulton, then continues north to Northline Commons mall and the Northline Transit Center.
There are eight stations along this new section - along with more than 330 new trees.
Posted here is a photo of a section of the North/Red Line. Click here for more construction photos. We are completing Phase Four of the line. Station platforms, amenities and artwork are installed and landscaping is completed.
Click here for more details, including updates on the other two lines we are building: the East End/Green Line and the Southeast/Purple Line. Both of those are scheduled to be opened in 2014. This system map shows how all our future light-rail lines cross the city.
Check out our GoMETRORail website for more information on our new lines - from staying safe around the rail to supporting businesses during construction.
Regularly using public transit has been linked to greater levels of physical activity and slimmer figures.
But what about the long-term effects of transit in a neighborhood? Will the presence of a neighborhood train make you healthier because it will trigger more walking?
Now researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT Health) and the Texas A & M Transportation Institute (TTI) are launching a project to examine how the presence of our new North/Red Line will affect physical activity and transportation behavior of nearby residents.
Researchers will be recruiting participants for the study that will start in December. One group will include residents who live within a half-mile of the new, northbound Red Line, while a smaller, control group will include people who live outside of that radius.
Click here to read more about this study.
Do you or have you ever lived within walking distance of a rail line? Did you find yourself using public transit and keeping the extra pounds at bay? Tell us your experience.
METRO will operate on a special holiday schedule next week to observe the Thanksgiving holiday.
On Wednesday, Nov. 27, local bus routes will run a regular weekday schedule. Park & Ride routes will operate additional trips from downtown. Click here for details.
On Thursday, Nov. 28 - Thanksgiving Day - METRO buses and rail will operate on a Sunday schedule. Park & Ride routes will not operate.
On Friday, Nov. 29, local buses and METRORail will operate on a Saturday schedule, but certain crosstown routes will operate on a weekday schedule. Click here to read more.
On Saturday, Nov. 30, and Sunday, Dec. 1, local bus and METRORail will operate on regular weekend schedules. There will be no Park & Ride service.
What would make you want to come to Houston to attend a conference?
We produced a video, inviting transit professionals nationwide attending a conference in Chicago to come to Houston in 2014 for the annual conference by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Check out the video - featuring our own rail operator and world-renowned mural artist Daniel Anguilu.
You'll see scenes of what makes Houston special - from famous eateries to the art car parade to our top-rated museums.
Check out this video inviting people to Houston. And there's a second video giving the back story on Anguilu, the artist/rail operator.
Then tell us below what makes this city special to you.
We’re all familiar with video on demand. When we want to
watch a movie at home, we downstream a movie, using our cable company or some
Now imagine mobility on demand.
Yesterday, the House Transportation Subcommittee held a
hearing on autonomous vehicles – what most us simply call driverless cars, or
In England, the town of Milton Keynes is gearing up to have
a fleet of these cars by 2015. The futuristic-looking, pod-like cars will be
just big enough for one or two people. And the service will eliminate the need
for parking, reports Marketplace,
an NPR radio show.
Brad Templeton, a futurist, said these self-driving cars
will change the concept of car ownership. “You pick up your cell phone and you say, ‘I need to go somewhere –
wherever,’ and you might not own a car,” he explained.
The car simply drives to you, and lets you off at your stop.
Do you ever see yourself giving up ownership of a car for
transportation like this?
The following is a guest post by Carolina Mendoza, media specialist in the METRO Press Office.
His interest in transit stems from childhood days riding a bus in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It progressed as a young adult in Chicago where he didn't have a car, and then in London where "transit is good."
The first time West University Councilman Dick Yehle rode METRO was in 1990. He's not a frequent rider, but when he rides, he boards the 2 Bellaire or 73 Bellfort.
Yehle learned about the Transit Academy via METRO Board Member, and former West University Mayor Burt Ballanfant. "The Transit Academy is great for explaining to neophytes the issues facing METRO and its strategy for addressing them," said Yehle, the first elected official to enroll in the program. "The science behind justifying a route (especially the route to IAH) was illuminating, and it was comforting that METRO so carefully considers the design of its routes. The dilemma between having efficient routes and routes that collect the most people is interesting."
Participants are asked to present an action plan during the final class to help increase awareness about METRO services and benefits. Yehle wanted to educate senior citizens in his community.
"METRO has some very useful routes serving the West U area that can take people to the Texas Medical Center, the Galleria and the light rail (to downtown, the zoo, the museum district to Reliant), added Yehle. "All West U residents live within a half mile of a bus route. They are paying for METRO with their sales taxes, so they should consider using it."
Step one of Yehle's plan was a briefing about how to ride METRO with information on routes, schedules and how to apply for Q Cards. Step two was putting step one to work. "I designed two trips that allowed groups of seniors to use their Q Cards by riding a bus, transferring to another bus or train, and then returning home by a different bus."
The trips were a success with some participants requesting do-overs. "It is always rewarding to see others gain from an activity and in this case, also enjoy a day out. There was positive feedback that using METRO was easier than they thought and with assistance they were able to overcome being intimidated by uncertainty over the routes, equipment and fares."
Yehle is a graduate of METRO's Transit Academy Class II. For more about the Transit Academy and how to enroll in the seven-week course, visit ridemetro.org or click here.
If you're a METRO rider, how would you encourage your neighbors and friends to learn about METRO? What are your ideas to help us spread the word about our services and benefits? Comment below - we'd love to hear from you.
In the airline world, we all know what no-shows and cancellations are. Many times airlines overbook flights deliberately, expecting a certain number of passengers to be "no-shows."
But when it comes to door-to-door transit for people with disabilities, a no-show - a customer who does not take the trip or cannot be found - can lead to inefficiency or frustration for other customers.
Here's your chance to comment on proposed revisions to the METROLIft No-Show Policy and the addition of a Late Cancellation Policy. METRO is conducting a meeting tomorrow from 10 a.m. to noon at PlazAmericas (the former Sharpstown Mall) in the Community Room on the first floor at 7500 Bellaire Blvd.
You'll have a chance to take part in the discussion and share your feedback.
"When a METROLift customer fails to show up for a scheduled trip or cancels after it is too late to schedule another customer in his/her place, vehicle schedules are less efficient, resources are wasted, the driver spends time looking for the customer, other customers are inconvenienced and on-time performance is negatively impacted," said Stephanie Anderson, system optimization specialist in Operations.
The proposed policy would lower the violation threshold and add late cancellations to the policy. For more details on how this would work, read the workbook.
If you miss tomorrow's meeting, we have two more you can attend:
You can also email your comments to email@example.com
If you're planning to be among the thousands of fans watching the Texans play the Oakland Raiders this Sunday, here's your parking solution.
Drive to the Fannin South Park & Ride lot at 1604 West Bellfort. Then hop on METRORail and ride the train directly to Reliant Stadium.
Parking is only $15 per vehicle and includes round-trip rail for all passengers. We'll be selling parking tickets from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. Kick-off is at noon.
If you're a monthly contract parker, event parking is included in your monthly fee, along with a round-trip ticket for the rail.
This is a great way to cheer on the home team and not stress about parking lot gridlock. Ride METRO, and enjoy the game.
How walkable is your neighborhood?
The key to making a neighborhood more walkable than another
is designing a form that encourages walking and transit use over driving
Come hear a national expert talk about this tonight at My
Houston 2040, a monthly meeting co-hosted by Houston Tomorrow, Air Alliance Houston, Social Agency Lab and Citizens’ Transportation Coalition.
Julie Campbell, urban designer and architect and author of Visualizing
Density and Made for Walking, will be speaking from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at
Rudyard’s Pub (upstairs) at 2010 Waugh Drive.
She will be joined by Peter Brown, an architect and urban
planner and director of Better Houston. Brown is a former city councilman.
The event is free and open to the public. Food and drinks
are available at the bar.
For those of you who have inched forward in traffic on the freeway - and pick any freeway because most all are clogged - you probably view Houston's traffic as one of the worst.
The good news: We're not the worst. Washington, D.C./Virginia/Maryland top the list, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Boston, reports the Houston Chronicle.
That's according to a recently released report by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The study analyzed annual traffic delays and ranked the Bayou City as having 52 hours of delay per commuter. The 2012 Annual Urban Mobility Report defines the annual delay as the extra travel time during the year divided by the number of people who commute in private vehicles in the urban area.
"Population growth will require more systems, better operations and an increased number of travel alternatives," says the report.
METRO is certainly a good option if you want to avoid dealing with traffic gridlock. While the driver navigates the traffic, you can sit back and relax, text or sleep on your way to and from work.