New METRO bus routes and schedules go into effect

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- METRO debuted its brand new bus routes Sunday. It's the first time METRO has reconfigured its bus system since the early 1970s.

Whether you're new to town, like student Will Labadie, or you've been riding the bus for years, METRO has high hopes for your new ride.

"I just moved here three weeks ago, and I heard horror stories about the METRO system, so it's probably a good thing that they are changing," Labadie said.

Houston METRO operates more than 1,200 buses, and most days, Tamu Tucker catches the 108.

"I don't have a car right now so I have to deal with it," said Tucker.

Her route now is less direct an extra transfer required.

"The 27 inner or outer loop used to drop me by my job, but now gotta catch the 28 and I don't know where the 28's gonna bring me," she said.

It is a readjustment some riders who rely on mass transit have to make. But for the transit agency, the road is smoother.

It's an overhaul that didn't add more buses, but revamped routes. The buses along those, METRO says, will run more frequently, some very 15 minutes, taking more direct routes to downtown, employment centers and light rail connections.

"This is getting more of our riders who currently use the system more reliable more frequent service," said Sanjay Ramabhadran, METRO board member.

It comes at a time when ridership has dropped, even as Houston's population has increased. What METRO sees as a more efficient, user friendly way of getting from one point to another, it hopes will bring in more riders.

METRO is getting rid of some bus stops, including all of the stops along West Alabama, west of downtown.

"And let them live easier happier lives and let them have the freedom to go where they need to go," said Kristof Spieler, METRO board member.

Back to Tucker, she's waiting for her bus and wondering if getting around will indeed be faster and easier.

To get ready for the change and confusion, METRO has increased its call center staff from 45 to 80 people. It also promises to have vehicles running along the old routes.
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