1/4 of METRO bus stops without shelter or seats causes uncomfortable waits in Texas summers

Lileana Pearson Image
Friday, August 11, 2023
METRO looks to add shelter at stops to protect riders from severe heat
Out of 8,897 METRO bus stops in Houston, there are 2,662 without seating or covering. To combat it, ABC13 found that METRO plans to add at least 400 new bus shelters for the next f

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For weeks, it's been brutally hot out. To stay comfortable and safe, the last thing you want to do is stand in the sun for an extended period. If you're a user of public transportation, that could be your reality, as quarter of METRO bus stops are only marked with a pole in the ground.

Daily METRO riders like Johnny Salazar said taking buses in Houston can be physically taxing.

WATCH: Extreme heat dangers and safety tips: What you need to know

"It gets so hot," Salazar said.

If you drive down any road in Houston, a pole-only bus stop is a common sight. Salazar said he prefers stops that have a bench and shelter. The overhang alone can lower the temperature by 10-15 degrees.

"Everybody carries a rag to wipe their face while they are traveling because it gets so hot and they sweat so much," he said.

According to METRO, they have 8,897 bus stops. Of that number, 860 have seating only, 2,268 have a shelter only, and 3,104 have seating and shelter.

That leaves more than 2,662 with nothing.

Mustafa Tameez is a public transit advocate. He said improving bus stops is twofold. For the people who rely on it, it adds a layer of safety to their day, and if we want to get people out of cars and into buses to improve the city's congestion, we need to make the trips appealing.

"Public transportation improves the quality of life for all of us...making it easier, making it convenient. Making it easier is where we want METRO to head," Tameez said.

METRO said most bus stops with no shelter or a place to sit will be found in areas that need more room on the side of the road to accommodate them.

But ABC13 found plenty of space for which METRO said it has several initiatives, including a plan to add 400 new bus shelters every year for the next five years.

"The elements are extreme, and they are getting worse...on bus routes where the frequencies aren't as high, we want you to be as comfortable as we can possibly make you," Metro director of service enhancement, Kenneth Brown, said.

RELATED: How extreme heat disproportionately impacts low-income families and communities of color in Houston

For transit users with no other transportation choice, progress comes with a long, hot wait.

"They have to do it, whether they like it or not, so it really helps out to have somewhere to sit, get a little bit of rest while they wait," Salazar said.

For more news updates, follow Lileana Pearson on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.