When Houston reworked their bus system they emphasized frequency and simplicity. The results have been a bump in ridership, though some complain the system sacrificed coverage and equity to make those gains.
In September of 2015, the Houston METRO bus system reworked their service. A year later, the change is evident. "That massive overhaul decreased the amount of wait times between buses and simplified route geography so maps were easier to understand and read," Bandon Formby reports in the Texas Star Tribune. This change in service gave rise to a 3% increase in ridership. That number may seem modest but becomes more impressive when compared to the many bus systems that are losing ridership around the country.
Still, this emphasis on more regular service comes at a cost. Formby talked to some commuters who were now further from stops. "Tindle said her old route into work downtown stopped near her home. After the overhaul, the closest stop is now half a mile away. And it isn’t covered." These concerns have also been raised in city government. "After presenting its initial plans for its bus overhaul to the public, Houston METRO’s board agreed to increase the budget for local routes by 4 percent, or about $12 million, amid criticism that poor residents in the city’s northeast quadrant were losing too much service," Formby writes.
This overhaul gets at an important if not "sexy" aspect of successful public transportation. While wild ideas grab headlines, practical concerns about regular service are harder to make newsworthy and, consequently, can be the target of cuts.
Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes
The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.
4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design
With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.
LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water
The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.
An Affordable Housing Model for Indigenous Americans
Indigenous people make up a disproportionately high percentage of the unhoused population, but many programs designed to assist them don’t reach those most in need.
Oregon Bill Would Ban E-Bikes for Riders Under 16
State lawmakers seek to change Oregon e-bike laws following the death of a 15-year old last summer.
Northeastern Waterways More Polluted After Wet Year
Intense rains washed more runoff into local bodies of water, while warmer temperatures contributed to the growth of an invasive bloom.
Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
City of Grand Forks, North Dakota
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
City of Birmingham, Alabama
City of Laramie, Wyoming
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.