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Weekend Happenings with METRO July 1-4

Montage of events

 

This is a guest post by Darla Bell, manager of Strategic Analysis in Communications & Marketing.

 

Hooray – it’s the Fourth of July weekend!  In addition to family get-togethers and neighborhood parades, you can choose from an array of things to do, so let us suggest just a few.  The weather forecast shows no more than 10 percent chance of rain all weekend, so keep your fingers crossed. 

 

METRO can help you celebrate our nation’s birthday with even more relaxation.  Taking METRO allows you to sit back and let someone else do the driving while you phone, text or talk with your travel companions – don’t worry about getting gas or finding parking.  Visit our Google-powered Trip Planner to find the bus or rail route that will deliver you to the weekend’s activities.

 

Event: World Famous Gospel Brunch.  Happening just once a month, it’s a combination of outstanding food and more-than-outstanding music.  Local talent performs traditional and contemporary gospel songs.  I love what the House of Blues’ website says – “…you just might end up on stage waving a napkin and dancing off some of that delicious cuisine!”  That sounds good to me.  Tickets are available online now and on-site starting one hour before the event.

 

When: Sunday, 1:30 p.m.

 

Where: House of Blues, 1204 Caroline St.

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 6 Jensen, 11 Almeda/Lyons, 51 Hardy-Kelley, 52 Hardy-Ley, 137 Northshore (exit San Jacinto & Dallas)

 

METRORail – Red Line (exit Bell Station or Main Street Square Station), Green Line or Purple Line (exit Central Station)

 

Event: ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights.  This performance is very special.  The Houston Symphony will present patriotic classics on the Fourth, including the 1812 Overture, complete with booming cannons.  More booming will follow, in the guise of a fireworks spectacular.  All tickets are free and available at the theatre box office from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

When: Monday, 8:30 p.m.

 

Where: Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Dr.

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 11 Almeda/Lyons (exit Almeda & Hermann Dr.), 56 Airline/Montrose (exit Main & Sunset)

 

METRORail – Red Line, exit Hermann Park/Rice University

 

Event: US Family Health Plan Freedom Over Texas.  This is the city’s BIG Independence Day celebration, and it goes all out.  Darius Rucker will be the main stage headliner, and The Suffers, the Eli Young Band and Brooke Eden will entertain there, too.  You can enjoy additional stages with more bands and a tribute to Prince, a kids’ zone, a beer garden, and too many other activities to list here.  All this festivity will be capped off by a spectacular fireworks display.  Tickets can be purchased online or at the event.

 

When: Monday, 4 to 10 p.m.

 

Where: Eleanor Tinsley Park, 500 Allen Parkway

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 44 Acres Homes (exit Houston Ave. & Memorial Dr.), 30 Clinton/Ella (exit Memorial Dr. & Sawyer, 41 Kirby/Polk (exit W. Dallas & Heiner St.)

 

 

*Suggested connections as provided by our Customer Care Call Center; more convenient routes may vary per individual needs.

 

Fourth of July Service Schedule

This weekend, we celebrate our nation's birthday - and that means cook-outs, music and fireworks. METRO will be operating on a holiday schedule in observance of Independence Day.  

Here's our schedule:

* METRO local buses will operate on a Saturday schedule of service.

* Park & Ride commuter buses will not run. 

* METRORail will operate on a Saturday schedule of service. 

* METROLift's Reservations and Customer Service offices will be closed on Monday, July 4. All scheduled trips will be canceled. To reserve a trip for Monday, July 4, or Tuesday, July 5, please call the Reservation line at 713-225-6716 on Friday, July 1, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

* The RideStores and Lost & Found will be closed on Monday, July 4. 

Our Customer Care Center will be open on Monday, July 4, from 8 a.m. to 8  p.m. Call 713-635-4000 or 713-635-6993 (TDD). 

You can use our Google-powered Trip Planner to plan your trip in advance and find your specific bus or train. Learn more about our bus and rail schedules. 

Chair Carrin Patman on Solving Transit Issues

Carrin Patman, METRO board chair, in front of a  METRO bus backdrop for Houston Woman magazine

METRO Board Chair Carrin Patman recently told Houston Woman magazine that her training and experience as an attorney in management, handling complicated cases, will serve her well in her role as the agency’s first woman chair.

“I enjoy complex challenges. I like to build consensus with diverse constituencies, diverse communities. I find it very rewarding to make a difference in the lives of our citizens,” Patman told the magazine.

In April, Patman became the new METRO chair, a volunteer position appointed by Mayor Sylvester Turner. A partner at the law firm Bracewell, Patman had served on the METRO board from 2010 to 2014, resigning to pursue a fellowship at Harvard University. During the fellowship, Patman focused on transportation and transit.

As METRO’s chair, Patman said she also wants to help create a regional transit plan that focuses on moving people around efficiently.

“I envision all manners and modes of connectivity to get people from their original point to their destination. I think rail still has a place in Houston, definitely light rail,” said Patman.

Read the full article here.

 

Public Hearing Today at Noon - June 28


White figures in a meeting

METRO is proposing service changes for August, and you are welcome to share your opinion today at noon. The public hearing will be held at 1900 Main St., in our boardroom on the second floor.

The proposed service changes include a change to the 41 Kirby/Polk, as well as schedule changes to the 49 Chimney Rock/S. Post Oak and 96 Veterans Memorial. We are also proposing new routes with the 38 Manchester/Lawndale and new midday service on the 269 West Bellfort/Westwood

Find out more details about the proposed changes and see maps here.

 

Building Bike Paths

   Man about to roll bike on METRORail                                   

Today Mayor Sylvester Turner, along with other city officials, celebrated the groundbreaking of a hike-and-bike trail that will connect the White Oak Bayou path to residential neighborhoods and the Buffalo Bayou path.

The city of Houston is updating a comprehensive master bicycle plan – the first since 1993 – that offers details about a bicycle network and information on policies and strategies for creating a safer, more accessible bike-friendly city. The details are in the Houston Bike Plan, and an executive summary can be found here.

The Houston Bike Plan will offer more transportation choices, including improved connections to key destinations such as job centers, entertainment venues, parks and schools. The plan also addresses end-of-trip facilities, including bike racks and bike share.

BikeHouston, a non-profit dedicated to creating safe bikeways through advocacy and education, says the Houston Bike Plan has engaged in a massive outreach to the public with more than 4,000 online survey responses, more than 600 maps, an online webinar and 45 community meetings. The Houston Bikeways program added 133 more miles of high-comfort bikeways to the draft plan to make sure residents from Clear Lake to Gulfton were near bike paths.

METRO, a member of the Houston Bicycle Advisory Committee, is working with the city to coordinate enhancements to our Park & Ride lots, METRORail stations or transit centers to create a seamless bicycle network to new bike paths, said Luis Guajardo, METRO transit planner. "METRO's strategy is to carry out recommendations from METRO's Bike & Ride Access & Implementation Plan. By coordinating  wherever the city is making improvements, we are able to leverage tax dollars more efficiently and provide more complete facilities for our customers, " he said.

When you ride METRO, remember you can bring your bike with you. Local buses have bike racks for two bikes, while coach buses have bike space in the luggage area in the belly of the bus. You can also bring your bike on METRORail. Bike storage racks are located at these locations: Fannin South, TMC Transit Center, Wheeler and Downtown Transit Center.

 

 

Weekend Happenings with METRO June 24-26

Montage of events

 

Note: This is a guest post by Darla Bell, manager of strategic analysis in Marketing.

 

It’s the first “official” after-the-solstice summer weekend, so get out there and celebrate it.  There’s nothing more summery to me than an outdoor evening concert, so you’ll find one below, along with an air-conditioned family event and a day-long festival.  You can’t beat Houston for offering a wide variety of things to entertain you on any weekend.

 

Day or night, METRO is ready to be your travel partner.  Using METRO allows you to use more of your money for entertainment, too, and less of it on parking fees and gas.   So sit back in air-conditioned comfort and leave the driving to us.  Please visit our website’s Google-powered Trip Planner to pinpoint the exact bus or train that will chauffeur you around town this weekend.

 

Event: ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights.  The Houston Symphony presents two outdoor performances this weekend.  On Friday you can enjoy Copland’s “Suite from Billy the Kid” and Stravinsky’s “The Firebird.”  Prokofiev’s Fifth is the Saturday offering.  Tickets for the covered area are free at the box office on the day of the performance. What a great way to introduce your family to classical music!

 

When: Friday and Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

 

Where: Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Dr.

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 5 Southmore (exit Binz & Crawford), 11 Almeda/Lyons (exit Almeda & Hermann Dr.), 56 Airline/Montrose (exit Main & Remington Ln.)

 

METRORail – Red Line, exit Hermann Park/Rice University

 

Event: Toy Train Show. The Train Collectors Association National Convention is in Houston this weekend, and that means you can take the family to see the display of operating layouts, attend the seminars, and go into the trading pits where toy trains and related items are bought and sold.  If you have a Boy Scout in the family, he can earn a Railroading merit badge if he attends in uniform.  There’s a fee to enter the trading pits, but everything else is free.

 

When: Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

Where: Marriott Westchase, 2900 Briarpark Dr.

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 25 Richmond (exit Richmond & Briarpark), 82 Westheimer (exit Westheimer & Briarpark), 153 Harwin Express (exit Briarpark & Westheimer)

 

Event: Houston Pride Celebration.  The Pride Festival celebrates individualism and diversity.  The free festival will be located around City Hall, Hermann Square and Tranquility Park.  It will feature more than 200 exhibitors, a family fun zone, and entertainment stages.  The Parade includes more than 115 groups with Grand Marshal Deborah Duncan, and the pre-show begins at 8 p.m. at Smith & McKinney.

 

When: Saturday, festival - noon to 7 p.m.; parade - 8:30 to 11 p.m.

 

Where: Festival at McKinney & Smith, parade starts at Lamar & Smith

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 32 Renwick/San Felipe, 40 Telephone/Heights, 41 Kirby/Polk, 44 Acres Homes, 85 Antoine/Washington, 160 Memorial City Express, 161 Wilcrest Express, 162 Memorial Express

 

METRORail – Red Line, exit Main Street Square

 

*Suggested connections as provided by our Customer Care department; more convenient routes may vary per individual needs.

 

 

 

Service Changes & Detours This Weekend: June 24-26

Buses on road; LGBT logo

Riders, be aware: This weekend, we’ll have a service interruption on METRORail and some bus detours to accommodate the LGBT Pride Parade.

METRORail: From Friday, June 24, at 9 p.m. until end of service on Sunday, June 26, rail service will be interrupted on the Red Line between Northline Transit Center/HCC and Melbourne/North Lindale stations.

Service is being interrupted to allow us to work on the signal system. See map here.

We’ll have shuttle buses (labeled “700 Rail Shuttle” on the front of the bus) to help you complete your trip. Shuttles will arrive every 10 minutes, and METRO staff will be out on the streets and platforms to help you.

LGBT Parade detours: The Houston LGBT Pride Celebration will involve a parade that requires METRO to detour bus service traveling in and around City Hall, Hermann Park and Tranquility Park areas. On Friday, June 24, at 7 p.m. to Sunday, June 26, at 3:30 a.m., routes 40 Telephone/Heights and 41 Kirby/Polk will be affected.  See a map of the detours here.

On Saturday, June 25, from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. – during the parade only – 11 routes will be detoured. See details here. 

Please allow extra time to travel this weekend. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for riding METRO.

 

Ticket to Ride


If you’ve got a valid ticket to a Dynamo or Dash soccer game, you can ride METRORail for free to and from BBVA Compass Stadium on game day. 

This benefit is being offered in partnership with Houston’s home soccer teams. Both the Green Line and the Purple Line stop at Eado/Stadium Station, right in front of the stadium. Ride the rail and discover how easy it is to get to and from the games and avoid traffic gridlock. 

Where to park your car downtown? Go to downtownhouston.org and find parking lots near METRORail. You can also park at the Fannin South Park & Ride lot at 1604 West Bellfort, take the Red Line going north, then transfer to the Green or Purple lines to the stadium.

So kick the ball…and try the rail on your way to the next Dynamo or Dash game. You’ll score big with METRORail. 

Stay Safe on Buses and Trains
 

Safety letters in colorful letters 

June, National Safety Month, is a great time to start practicing safe habits as you commute on buses and trains.

Remember, you can use your phone to make a difference, but you need to know when. METRO’s new app called MPD Connect allows you to report an accident, a suspicious person or a crime in progress right from your smartphone – and submit a report directly to METRO police

First, unplug the earbuds. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. If you’re zoned out listening to music, you may not be aware of potentially dangerous situations.

Next, quit texting and emailing on your phone. Being absorbed with your smartphone reduces your awareness and could compromise your ability to predict and react to problems.  

Put your valuables and other personal items out of sight. Sometimes thieves will grab a smartphone from someone’s hand and dash off - too late for you to recover it, and if you’re not paying attention, you might not have a description of the thief. Click here for more tips on how to spot a potential threat.

Remember: If you see something, say something.

 

 


Weekend Happenings with METRO June 17-19

Montage of events

 

Here comes another summer weekend with an outstanding number of events – and we’ve chosen just a few to emphasize the diversity of offerings.  There’s truly something for everyone.

 

METRO can get you there with a lot less stress, so you can really relax and enjoy yourself.  We’ll save you money on gas and parking too, and you can text or phone while you’re on your way.  Please visit the Google-powered Trip Planner on our website to locate the exact bus or train that can be your magic carpet this weekend.

 

Event: Cool Nights at the Houston Zoo. The zoo is staying open late on Friday nights this summer so you can enjoy the animals in the cooler evening weather.  Special music and family activities will be featured, too – this week it’s the first Zoovie Night of the summer, with a giant outdoor screen showing of “Alvin & the Chipmunks: Road Chip.”  The movie starts at 8:30, following the activities.  Another bonus: Zoo admission is discounted $4 when you arrive after 4 p.m. (discount available online only).  

 

When: Friday, 5 to 8 p.m., last entry at 7:30 p.m.

 

Where: Houston Zoo, 6200 Hermann Park Dr.

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 28 OST/Wayside (exit Cambridge & Fannin)

 

METRORail – Red Line, exit Hermann Park/Rice U Station or Memorial Hermann Hospital/Houston Zoo Station

 

Event: Friends of Emancipation Park Juneteenth Parade and Celebration. Celebrating the abolition of slavery, Saturday’s festivities begin with a parade from Texas Southern University to the Project Row Houses site of the Juneteenth Freedom Fest.  The festival is free and will feature entertainment, food and vendors.

 

When: Saturday, Parade 10 to 11 a.m., Festival 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

Where: Parade – starts at Ennis & Wheeler, Festival – Project Row Houses, 2521 Holman

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 9 Gulfton/Holman

 

Event: Comicpalooza 2016. Billed as “Texas’ Largest Comic and Pop Culture Event,” this convention and attendant exhibit hall should overwhelm you if you’re interested in comics, science fiction, horror, fantasy, gaming…looking at the website was quite a learning experience for this Baby Boomer.  Besides watching people and meeting celebrities, you can attend panel discussions and educational workshops, play games, and experience sporting events such as a quidditch match and roller derby.  There’s even a children’s area.

 

When: Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight, Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Where: George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida De Las Americas

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 6 Jensen/Greens, 11 Almeda/Lyons, 51 Hardy-Kelley, 52 Hardy-Ley (exit San Jacinto & Dallas), 40 Telephone/Heights, 41 Kirby/Polk (exit Polk & Hamilton)

 

METRORail – Green Line or Purple Line, exit Convention District Station

 

*Suggested connections as provided by our Customer Care department; more convenient routes may vary per individual needs.

 

 

 

METRO By the Numbers

Bus with skyline behind

How well do you know the METRO system?
Here are some factoids to remember as you ride our buses and trains:

 •   METRO serves an area of 1,303 square miles – with 2,663 route miles; 20 transit centers; 9,816  bus stops; and 28 Park & Ride lots that offer 32,802 parking spaces.

   In FY 2015, METRO’s fleet included 1,219 buses and 154 paratransit vans and 75 light-rail train cars. At weekday peak, 963 buses operated on 126 routes.

   FY 2015 total system ridership, including fixed route buses and METRORail, METROLift, STAR Vanpool, HOV vanpools/carpools, was 112 million, up 2.0 percent from FY 2014.

   Passenger boardings in FY 2015 averaged 9.3 million per month.

   Daily fixed-route weekday ridership in FY 2015 averaged 292,479 boardings.

   All buses on our 126 bus routes and all METRORail vehicles are fully accessible to disabled patrons. METROLift offers prescheduled curb-to-curb service for disabled patrons who cannot use METRO’s fixed-route service.

FY15 stats were used since those are the most recently published figures.

Soccer Fans: An Easy Way to Goooo to the Games

Man kicking soccer ball

Welcome Copa America fans.

For just $3 you can buy a one-day pass to the games. The METRO Convention Pass is a unique paper flash pass that makes getting to NRG Park, or anywhere else in Houston, quick and easy.

Present your pass upon request and enjoy unlimited local bus and light-rail service. You can buy a pass exclusively for today, June 13, or purchase a pass exclusively for June 21, the final day of games.  

Buy your METRO Convention Pass online or go to one of our RideStores at 1900 Main St. or 1001 Travis St. – or pick up a pass at METRO Fannin South Parking at 1604 West Bellfort St. RideStore hours are: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you need parking, you can park your vehicle at Fannin South Parking Services for just $15 – and hop on the Red Line. NRG Stadium is just one stop away. The special event parking of $15 includes fare to travel on METRORail to NRG Park.

Take METRO to the games and relax with your one-day pass, avoiding traffic snarls and stiff parking fees.

Weekend Happenings with METRO June 10-12

Montage of events

 

Every summer weekend in Houston offers a wide variety of things to do.  Take advantage of all that our area has to offer.  And take advantage of using METRO to save money on gas and parking, and you can text or phone while you travel.  Please visit the Google-powered Trip Planner on our website to locate the exact bus or train to take you from your door to the events of your choice.

 

Event: Little Women: The Musical. Summer temperatures are here, so spend some time indoors enjoying this musical production based on the beloved classic novel by Louisa May Alcott.  This story, about four sisters’ experiences while their father served in the Civil War, touches on themes that are relevant today – love, family and connection.  Tickets can be purchased online.

 

When: Friday and Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2:30 p.m.

 

Where: A. D. Players Theater, 2710 W. Alabama

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 25 Richmond (exit Richmond & Buffalo Speedway, walk right), 82 Westheimer (exit Westheimer & Buffalo Speedway, walk right)

 

Event: Carnival Houston Street Parade & Festival. In its third year, the parade and festival celebrate the cultures of the Caribbean, Latin America, Polynesia, Africa and New Orleans.  The festival stage line-up features musicians and dance groups, and other attractions include a kids’ zone, food and vendors, as well as limbo and dance contests.  Festival tickets can be purchased online.

 

When: Saturday, Parade – 1 to 3 p.m., Festival – noon to 8 p.m.

 

Where: Parade begins at La Branch & Lamar, Festival - 1150 La Branch

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 6 Jensen (exit San Jacinto & Bell), 11 Almeda/Lyons, 40 Telephone/Heights, 41 Kirby/Polk (exit Polk & Hamilton), 51 Hardy-Kelley, 52 Hardy-Ley (exit San Jacinto & Dallas)

 

METRORail - Red Line, exit Main Street Square Station (southbound) or Bell Station (northbound)

 

Event: Summer Book Festival. Prepare your family for a summer of great reading.  The Friends of the Houston Public Library has more than 30,000 books, LPs, CDs, DVDs and audiobooks for $3 or less at its summer sale supporting our library.  The Saturday event features free book appraisals, and you can purchase handmade books and check out the mobile book express “computer classroom on wheels” on both days of the sale.

 

When: Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

 

Where: The Health Museum, 1515 Hermann Dr.

 

Getting there*:

 

Bus – 5 Southmore (exit Binz & Crawford)

 

METRORail – Red Line, exit Museum Station

 

*Suggested connections as provided by our Customer Care department; more convenient routes may vary per individual needs.

 

 

 

Weekend Rail Interruptions: June 11 & 12, 2016


Rail Interruption logoWeekend rail riders, listen up: If you’re riding the rail late Friday night or on Sunday, there will be some service interruptions.  

On late Friday night – one minute after midnight – there will be no rail service on the Red Line between Fannin South and Smith Lands Station until 2 p.m. on Saturday. Service is being shut down so that emergency track work can be performed. If the work cannot be completed by Saturday, the bus shuttle will be extended through Sunday, June 12.

On Sunday, June 12, the Red Line will be shut down from 11 p.m. until the end of service between that evening between Northline Transit Center/HCC and Downtown Transit Center. The closure is due to traction power maintenance work.

Also on Sunday and continuing through Wednesday, June 15, service on the Green Line will be closed between Altic/Howard Hughes and Theater District stations between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. The Purple Line will also stop at Eado Station where passengers will need to board a shuttle bus. This shutdown is due to construction at Convention District Station.

METRO will operate dedicated shuttle buses scheduled to arrive every 10 minutes. The shuttles will have “700 Rail Shuttle” or “800 Rail Shuttle” in the sign in front of the bus.

Bus travel does take more time, so please allow more time for your trip. We’ll have staff on the street and on the rail platform to help you find the shuttle and answer any questions. Read more details about these Rider Alerts here.

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for riding METRO. Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

People Who Move People


Check out a new web series which profiles public transit leaders and contributors who have made a difference in public transportation.

The in-depth profiles are at PeopleWhoMovePeople, a project funded by RouteMatch Software and written by Laura Lee Huttenbach. These profiles will be posted weekly  through the end of the year, and all interviews are in the subject’s home city using public transit. The goal is to give the younger generation fresh insights into the rewarding aspects of everyday life in transit. 

Meet Jack Leary, former director of operations at MBTA in Boston, CEO of Bi-State Development Agency in St. Louis, and general manager of SEPTA in Pennsylvania. Leary spent 35 years in public transit and said he never regretted a minute. 

“Every day, I could sit back and say I did something (like), ‘I moved 900,000 people home before a snow storm,'” he said. 

His secret to successfully running a transit agency? 

“Hire good people,” he said. “And make the message very clear on what the goal is. If they know the end result, don’t worry about how they get there. Just let them do their job.”

The most recent profile features Yolanda Brown, an exuberant streetcar driver and bus operator at the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority.

She’s a second-generation bus driver and says her mom showed her what a strong, courageous woman was like. Brown battled cancer twice - but on the job, she’s anything but sickly. 

“When I’m in public, you’re gonna see a smile on my face,” she says. “You’re not gonna know I’m going through anything. You gotta stay positive. If you stay positive, you’ll have a good journey.” 


METRO Job Fair


Man holding sign, "Job Fair"Looking for a job? Consider a career at METRO.

We’ll be hosting a job fair this Saturday, June 11, at our Kashmere facility at 5700 Eastex Freeway. We’ll be there from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

We have openings for bus operators, mechanics, cleaners, light-rail operators and customer service representatives. Find more openings
here.

Bus operators start at $15 an hour. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, be at least 21 years of age and have had a valid driver’s license for at least three years.

METRO has great benefits that include medical, dental and vision insurance, life insurance, paid vacation, sick days and holidays, retirement and savings plans. Plus, all employees and their spouses ride METRO for free.

So check us out at the job fair this Saturday. Bring your resume.

 

Sign Language and Detective Work Help a Rider

Montage of bus operator Jacqueline Cooper and MPD Off. Tonya Prince

When a well-groomed gentleman with salt-and-pepper hair boarded the bus on May 25 – and stayed on at the end of bus driver Jacqueline Cooper’s route on the 80 MLK, Cooper knew something was wrong.

She had noticed the man boarding without paying and realized he was mentally challenged. She watched as he ate a chopped-beef baked potato, and then stared at a passenger when that person’s way was blocked.

At the end of the line, Cooper asked the rider, “Where are you going?”

When he didn’t respond, Cooper began using sign language to ask, “Where is home?” He shook his head. Cooper called METRO police dispatch and, while waiting for someone to arrive, let him stay on her bus, offering him an iced tea.

Cooper said she wasn’t going to leave the man in an unfamiliar neighborhood where he could be a potential target of robbery. “He said (in sign language) he was not homeless. He was neatly dressed,” recalled Cooper.

MPD Off. Tonya Prince arrived on a “welfare check.”

“When I got there, Ms. Cooper had already been trying to communicate with him. We drew a picture trying to find out where his house was. She signed really slowly and kept repeating it until she got his name,” said Prince.

Helping this passenger put Cooper about an hour behind her normal schedule, but going the extra mile was worth it. “I was just being me - helping someone. I wanted to be of service – not just as a bus operator but as a human being helping someone who was lost and needed to find his way home,” said Cooper. “I believe God helps those who are vulnerable. He strategically places them where they need to get to.”

The passenger used sign language to indicate his date of birth was “January 68 of 99.”

So Prince took custody of him while she did some old-fashioned detective work. First, she fingerprinted him – no response. Then she called Adult Protective Services to open a file. Finally after three hours of sorting through databases, she received a missing person’s report.

“It’s like putting a puzzle together,” said Prince, who discovered the passenger had gotten mixed up with another group 24 hours earlier – and had boarded a METROLift bus by mistake. When the METROLift bus dropped off its patrons, this gentleman got off and boarded a local bus.

“When I took him back to the group home, he gave me a hug. He knew he was home,” said Prince, adding that this was the 25th hour of his being reported missing.

Prince said she chose law enforcement as a career to make a difference like this, adding that it was gratifying “that I was truly able to help someone.”



Weekend Happenings with METRO June 3-5

Montage of events

 

To quote a Rodgers and Hammerstein song, “June is bustin’ out all over,” and it brings us an amazing variety of things to do.  We can only scratch the surface of this weekend’s offerings, but we’ll give you a chance to be thrilled by beautiful modern dance moves, dangerous dinos on the big screen, or a not-your-normal shopping extravaganza. 

 

You’ll also be thrilled by the amount of money we can save you on gas and parking – and you can text or phone while you travel to this weekend’s destinations.  Visit our Google-powered Trip Planner to locate your exact bus or train.

 

Event: Celebrating 20! Sizzling Summer Dance – This free outdoor event showcases two world premiere performances in the conclusion of Houston-based METdance’s 20th anniversary season.  It’s a diverse program designed to appeal to all ages and includes the MET too Youth Company.

 

When: Friday, 8:30 p.m.

 

Where: Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive

 

Getting there:

 

METRORail – Red Line, exit Museum District Station

 

Event: Bank of America Screen on the Green – Corral the family for another visit to Jurassic Park via a free showing of 2015’s chilling movie “Jurassic World” on the big screen.  Activities begin at 6:30 p.m., so come early for a Comicpalooza costume contest and photo ops with a T-Rex and Jurassic Jeeps.  The event is free and you can bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnics.

 

When: Saturday, 6:30-10 p.m. – movie 8:30-10 p.m.

 

Where: Discovery Green Park, 1500 McKinney

 

Getting there:

 

Bus – 6 Jensen/Greens, 11 Almeda/Lyons, 20 Canal/Memorial, 40 Telephone/Heights, 41 Kirby/Polk, 51 Hardy-Kelley, 52 Hardy-Ley, 137 Northshore Express, 412 Greenlink Circulator, 413 Greenlink Orange

 

METRORail – Purple Line, exit Convention District Station

 

Event: Vintique Flea: Summer Edition 2.0 – This curated vintage and antiques market is held only several weekends a year and provides shopping therapy for those interested in home décor, industrial elements, memorabilia, collectibles, jewelry and more.  Tickets can be purchased online or at the door and a portion of the proceeds benefits a local animal rescue group.

 

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

 

Where: Silver Street Studios, 2000 Edwards Street

 

Getting there:

 

Bus – 44 Acres Homes

 

Bloggers Meet METRO Chair Patman

 

Chris Andrews, who blogs about urban planning and urban issues at cdandrews.com,

Bloggers luncheon

 

METRO invited Houston bloggers who write about transit to a luncheon today, giving them an opportunity to meet METRO Chair Carrin Patman and ask questions about the agency.

The bloggers received press packets giving an overview of METRO’s immediate priorities, including tweaking the new local bus network and taking a hard look at METRO’s finances, projected to be lower as sales tax revenue declines.

Houston is expected to become the third-largest city in the nation by 2025, surpassing Chicago. By 2040, METRO’s service area is expected to include 5.2 million people – a 46 percent increase from 2010.  All that means high-growth and congestion – and a need for more transit.

Bloggres Raj Mankad and David CrossleyMETRO said it will be working with the community to create a new regional transportation plan. The bloggers – ranging from a mom who enjoys riding the rail on weekends with her toddler to a city planner to a former journalist who writes about architecture and design – asked wide-ranging questions.

The discussion included marketing public transit so people would become comfortable with transit in a car-dependent city; collaborating with Houston, smaller cities, Harris County and other agencies on developing a regional transportation plan; and working with the city of Houston to make the transit experience more inviting with improved shelters and connected sidewalks.

Tory Gattis, editor of “Houston Strategies,” asked about the possibility of creating two lanes in one direction for commuters since there are not that many reverse commuters. David Crossley of Houston Tomorrow suggested METRO seriously consider Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) with dedicated bus lanes. Ryan Holeywell of Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research raised the issue of connecting Hobby and IAH airports.Carrin Patman, METRO chair

Patman said in an uber-connected, convenient world, we’d all be able to connect. But right now, one of METRO’s priorities is to connect Galleria/Uptown with downtown.

 Kay Adams of “Raised on the Rail,” said her friends, educated professionals, are often initially surprised and sometimes skeptical when they learn she rides METRORail on weekends with her two-year-old daughter. “I’m in a better mood because I take transit. I hate parking. I hate driving. I hate traffic. It’s convenient to take the rail,” she said.

Christopher Andrews, who blogs about urban planning and urban issues at cdandrews.com, said he's from Michigan and had heard of Houston's sprawl.

“I ride the rail almost every day to get home. I think there’s certainly a lot of opportunity to do a lot of work between agencies,” he said.

Patman highly recommended the bloggers read the book “Move: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead” by Rosabeth Moss Kanter.

 

 

Sign Up for Alerts

Now that hurricane season is officially underway today, it’s a good time to sign up for emergency alerts.

You can stay current with automatic updates, and choose to have them sent to you via email or text. Our service alerts will tell you about route changes and delays. You choose the specific route or the light-rail line for which you want information. 

You can also opt to sign up for My METRO Emergency Alerts for changes due to severe weather, such as flooding or hurricanes. Or subscribe to news releases, and get the same announcements and info when the media receive it. 

“METRO Connections” is a newsletter that gives you highlights of what we are doing. 

Pick and choose - get all these subscriptions or only one.

Hurricane season lasts until November 30. Instead of logging into a website to find out if bus or rail service is affected, you can get text messages sent right to your smartphone. 




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