(Please note: this is an extended, bonus cut of our original Streetfilm for TransitCenter "High Frequency: Why Houston is Back on the Bus")
Every city should do a "system reimagining" of their bus network like Houston METRO did.
Back in 2012, a small group of motivated citizens asked their local transit agency, elected leaders and advocates about how they could improve Houston's bus network. Ridership was down. Buses did not run as frequently as people liked. The routes didn't go where the populace needed them as the system did not change with the city since the 1970s. Weekend ridership was weak. If you wanted to transfer to another route, you almost always had to take a bus downtown first.
As you can surmise, all of this contributes to more cars on the roads and people not wanting to use transit.
The solution was an extremely ambitious, complete examination of every single bus route in the city, wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch. Through community meetings and years of tough decisions - a new METRO bus network emerged. One that has faster service, more efficient, better routes and one that is already boasting big gains in weekend service. And the changes have been essentially revenue neutral, meaning that all the Houston bus system is running at about the same budget it did prior.
This inspirational Streetfilm was produced in partnership with TransitCenter, which is funding us for a total of four films looking at transit throughout the country in 2016.