Metro’s massive overhaul makes its debut

Aug. 16, 2015Houston Chronicle

Seven members of the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority board were among the first passengers to try the revamped bus network launched early Sunday morning after taking a 30-minute bus ride around the city.

Metro CEO Tom Lambert joined along on their quick spin across town, allowing them to see the results of more than two years of planning in action for the first time.

“We’re looking forward to getting more and more people to give us a test drive this week,” Lambert said at a press conference before boarding the bus, adding that his staff has focused on making sure customers have all the information they need in hand.

The new system focuses on instituting buses that run frequently along key routes that form a grid pattern downtown, moving away from the current system where many buses take roundabout paths to cross the city. The overhaul also seeks to connect more closely with the 22-mile light rail system.

All local bus and rail rides will be free from Aug. 16 to Aug. 22 to give passengers time to adjust, and Metro authorities will be posted at various stops during the week to ensure riders are able to locate the appropriate group.

Before boarding their buses Sunday morning, board members urged Houston residents to test out the new system and see the changes for themselves.

“We’re just really excited about this,” said Diann Lewter. “We think that a lot of people that have never tried transit before are going to try it. … I encourage everyone who is listening to please go out, get on a train, get on a bus and try it for the first time. I brought my family here, my grandson just moved here from Denver and he’s going to be out trying it today.”