METRO System Reimagining

TEI led development of a transformative redesign of the Houston region’s local bus system for METRO. This reimagining took a clean slate look at the local bus network in response to declining ridership, changing demographic and development patterns, and community feedback. The team developed a 5-year transit service plan which better aligned local bus service with regional travel patterns, and integrated the bus network with three new light rail lines.

This was METRO’s first comprehensive look at its bus system in decades. The plan was developed to better utilize existing resources by creating a strong network of transit routes that better serve major activity centers. The plan greatly expanded the network of frequent routes and expanded weekend service. The plan also shifted away from a radial, downtown-focused system to a regional grid which connects many people to many different activity centers, leading to faster trips for many riders.

This effort required significant stakeholder, elected official, and community involvement. The TEI team led a series of workshops with a 120-member stakeholder group made up of community leaders, bus riders, and staff from METRO and local jurisdictions to help educate them on potential benefits of redesigning the bus system and build consensus on goals. Innovative design workshops, online games and tools, and presentation materials were developed to communicate the plan effectively and collect feedback on the direction.

TEI led months of outreach to collect feedback on the draft plan and refine the plan based on community input and operational considerations. METRO’s Board adopted the plan, and the New Bus Network launched in August 2015. TEI supported METRO with implementation of the New Bus Network, which began in August 2015. Local bus ridership grew approximately 5% in the first six months.

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