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Downtown shuttle service to return

Do you miss the free trolleys that used to run downtown? A new version of that service is set to debut in the spring.

The Houston Downtown Management District, funded through tax assessments on downtown properties, plans to launch a free bus service called Greenlink to ferry employees and residents along a 2.5 mile route starting in spring.


Metro’s downtown trolley service stopped rolling in 2005, after a 50-cent fare introduced in 2004 caused ridership to plummet. At its peak, Metro’s service had 28 vintage trolley buses, five routes and more than 10,000 daily riders.

In the meantime, the city passed an ordinance requiring cabs to charge a flat $6 within downtown, and pedicab and jitney companies such as Rev Eco-Shuttle have sprouted to meet the demand. “It could impact us but I think it’s good to always have options,” said Erik Ibarra, head of Rev Eco-Shuttle, adding that some if his riders have told him they miss the free trolley.

The district’s route is designed to connect convention-goers and office workers in southwest downtown to more retailers and restaurants such as Macy’s, Houston Pavilions and The Shops at Houston Center, [Bob Eury, executive director of Downtown District] said. “Depending on where you are, it’s a pretty big hike from southwest downtown to a store or restaurant.”

You can see a map of the new service’s route here; for comparison purposes, here’s a map of the downtown tunnel system, which I daresay can get you most of the places the shuttle can. I worked downtown for awhile during the run of the original trolley service. It was cool, but I was generally too impatient to wait for it – unless I saw it coming as I walked by the stop, I just kept walking to wherever it was I was going. I expect that I’m the exception and not the rule, so I figure this service will be popular. As Erik Ibarra said, it’s good to have options.

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  1. Joshua bullard says:

    I dont want this “free” shuttle service even getting off the ground,now a days whenever goverment starts throwing around the word “free” you better run for the hills,if this was a viable program,then the private sector would have already exploited the opportunity,when you base ridership programs off of the taxes of downtown bizzness its worthless-let me tell you something? the last time i saw a woman headed to the downtown pavillion to go drop a few hundred dollars at the houston pavillion on new clothes she drove up and used the valet.when people are going to spend dollars in houston texas-especially downtown-there not interested in a free shuttle-youll get the labor riders-some-but you wont get the retail shoppers,they will stick with the in expensive 6 dollar cab ride, i assure fact that has always remained for over 75years in houston,some one is always trying to come up with an alternative to taxi’s and has never been able to do it,the fact is,if your going shopping in downtown houston be it clothes or food and its not in your budget to kick it off with a 6 dollar cab ride, then maybe you should abandon the idea of shopping al together and go hang out with the ducks at herman park,and walk for “free.”

    you can keep your “free” tax supplement ride programs,ill stick with a classic taxi ride
    respectfully submitted joshua ben bullard

  2. […] here for some background and here for a route map. Part of the update to these vehicles is that they run […]