Houston Plans New Downtown Bus-Only Lanes

The lull in commuter traffic during the pandemic gave Houston's transit agencies time to implement new projects and redesign downtown roads to better accommodate transit users.

2 minute read

August 4, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Houston Light Rail Transit

Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock

Dug Begley reports on Houston's newest bus-only lanes, slated to cover over two miles of downtown streets "as part of a three-phase project to freshen the bus-only lanes managed by Metropolitan Transit Authority. Paint could be spread across four blocks of Travis by fall, though the total project will take up to a year, and up to $1.5 million."

According to Kimberly Williams, Metro’s chief innovation officer, "[t]he goal is to take advantage of the slowdown in traffic downtown while it lasts to freshen the existing bus lanes." Williams said the agency sees this "very much as a safety project, as well, because it creates structure among all the users downtown." The project "is one of many changes under construction, planned or being considered downtown as Metro, Houston Public Works and the Houston Downtown Management District accelerate work while many offices are unoccupied."

"City, downtown and Metro officials, meanwhile, are working on plans to stop allowing vehicles to share light rail lanes along Capitol and Rusk. If redesigned, only trains and, perhaps some buses, would occupy the lanes, turning them into transit byways of the street grid in the central business district." A 2019 report assessed the dangers inherent in sharing lanes and "suggested eliminating the shared lanes and allowing only trains to use them. Removing cars and trucks, however, will require further study of the safety benefits and the effects on traffic, including the need for turns across the tracks."

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 in The Houston Chronicle

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