Houston Needs More Public Transit Funding, Report Finds

While ridership dropped during the pandemic, many 'essential workers' continued to rely on Houston Metro's services, signaling the crucial role of public transit for the city's economy.

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October 14, 2021, 9:20 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Houston Light Rail

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Dug Begley describes the findings of a report from Air Alliance, transportation advocacy group LINK Houston and the Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University that calls for greater funding of public transportation in the Houston region.

"Overall, Metro ridership dropped to about one-eighth normal levels early in the pandemic, leading the agency to drastically scale back bus and train service." But "many said the service offered was a crucial lifeline." According to researcher Nikki Hawkins-Knight, "[w]e cannot continue to build cities and hope to positively impact the health of our economy and communities without frequently assessing the impacts, deficiencies and user needs." Hawking-Knight goes on to say "[t]he transit ecosystem must integrate safety, sanitation, connectivity and overall reliability for it to be a true asset."

"The findings, authors said, point to more transit investment as a way to keep key employees showing up for work, offer a viable and safe option for travel and reduce pollution all at once." Ashley Johnson, director of community affairs at LINK Houston and a study co-author, says "Metro must continue to restore service and equitably implement its Moving Forward Plan as the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the vital role public transit plays in the economic vitality of our region."

Thursday, October 7, 2021 in The Houston Chronicle

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