Houston Transit Barely Beats Out Dallas for Ridership

Out of the top five U.S. metro areas, Houston's transit ridership is second-lowest only to Dallas.

January 26, 2022, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Dallas Transit

Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock

While Houston's public transit gets a consistently bad rap, writes Alexandra Kanik, there's one city that has it even worse: Houston's neighbor to the north, Dallas, which gets the lowest public transit ridership of the top five most populous metro areas in the nation, with a paltry 13 rides per resident per year. Houston comes in second with 18 annual rides per resident, compared to New York City's close to 200 rides per resident.

According to Kanik, Houston has lower transit vehicle availability than some cities, but this metric doesn't always indicate the effectiveness of a transit system. While Chicago has lower availability than Houston, its transit system moves more people. "Surprisingly, Houston was the only city that actually added transit vehicles during the first year of the pandemic. In 2019, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County had 2,515 vehicles available for maximum service. In 2020, MTA lists that they added 43 vehicles for a fleet size of 2,558."

Yet Houston's growth continues to rely on cars, with auto-oriented household growth keeping near-perfect pace with overall growth. This holds true for Dallas as well. Both cities have a long way to go to create truly transit-oriented environments and reach ridership numbers close to that of other major cities.

Thursday, January 20, 2022 in The Houston Chronicle

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