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Chron story on the bus map tweaks

A few bits of interest here.


Metro leaders hope more frequent service on popular routes will build on the ridership gains the system is experiencing.

“I think as you get higher frequency and people know it is going to come, we are going to see higher ridership,” Metro CEO Tom Lambert told board members Wednesday.

In November, the last full month with verified ridership information, average weekday ridership was up 8 percent compared to the same month in 2014. Sunday ridership – more weekend service was a centerpiece of the bus changes – increased 30 percent to more than 114,000 average boardings.

The comparisons are problematic, however, because they involve different bus systems. Metro officials say they do not believe figures are skewed as a result of the new system requiring more transfers, a criticism skeptics have voiced since the bus network change.

At the same time, Metro is collecting less money from riders, as a result of changes in policy and fewer commuters than expected using park and ride service. From September to December, the first full four months under the new bus system, fare revenue was $1 million below 2014 collections for the same months.


“How do you have a system where I have to take three buses to get to work?” Ray McClendon asked as he waited for a bus on Antoine.

McClendon, 33, who is transit-dependent as he saves money for a car, blamed his transfers on the lack of a route on T.C. Jester outside Loop 610.

While the numbers show that ridership has increased, it is unclear whether more people are riding or the same number of people are taking more trips. Critics said overcrowding on some routes has driven some to stop taking the bus.

I have sympathy for Mr. McClendon, but this is a challenge for Metro. If you look at a map, much of TC Jester runs alongside the bayou, and even where it isn’t next to the bayou, the street grid around it is mostly cul-de-sacs. Point being, there’s very little potential ridership for a line that runs along TC Jester. In the meeting we bloggers had with Metro, board member Christoph Spieler talked about “frequency” routes versus “coverage” routes for their buses. There are numerous high-frequency routes that intersect with TC Jester, but someone who lives along TC Jester probably would have to take two or three buses to get where they needed to. Maybe someday a low-frequency coverage route can be added on TC Jester to fill this gap. In the meantime, trading a low-ridership, low-frequency route along TC Jester for more buses on Shepherd or Antoine/Washington is a clear win for most people, even if it does suck for people like Mr. McClendon.

There are a number of references to “critics” and the various things they say in the story, though none of them are named other than Mr. McClendon. I have a hard time taking that seriously – are these the same critics who predicted catastrophe for the changes and threatened to file civil rights claims but never followed through? Or are they people who have specific concerns and no axes to grind? A story that talked to some of the latter people, then got responses to their questions and criticisms from Metro would be enlightening, much more so than passive voice generalities. From where I sit, we have a pretty good understanding of what Metro has been doing lately, why they are doing it, and how it has been going. Let’s keep that discussion going, and figure out what they are missing and where else they should be.

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