METRO’s bus rapid transit lanes could be game-changer, expert says

HOUSTON – As Houston continues to grow, METRO is making improvements to its public transportation system.

Starting July, new bus rapid transit lanes will open to the public. These are different than the typical bus routes and stops you’re used to seeing.

1. What are Bus Rapid Transit Lanes?

The METRORapid Bus Rapid Transit network is designed to provide station-to-station service similar to METRORail but has the flexibility to accommodate multiple routes.

2. Why is a properly designed public transit system in a city the size of Houston so important?

“For the first time, the city is going to seriously be thinking about how to prioritize buses on the street. How you use bus lanes, changes in traffic signals, technology, that is something that’s actually fast and competitive with driving,” said Steven Higashide, director of research at Transit Center.

3. How will the new BRT lanes help people living in lower-income communities?

Owning a vehicle often leads to financial hardships for people living paycheck to paycheck.

“What effective public transit does is create a more financially sustainable way for everyone to access what they need,” Higashide said.

4. When does the first BRT lane open to the public?

The new Post Oak bus lane is set to open in July. It’s only the beginning. The METRONext bond voters approved in November calls for 75 miles of BRT lanes across Houston.

5. What should METRO be doing to get the community on board with its new public transit program?

Higashide said METRO really needs to do the work in terms of engaging neighborhoods and community organizations.

“To get them educated, to get these folks to be able to show up at public meetings so that it’s really clear that there are community benefits and community support for new ways of getting around,” Higashide said.

Clarification:This story has been updated to clarify the new target date for the transit service to begin.

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