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Bus service in new places

This is a good first step, which I hope begets a second step.

Harris County has extended bus service to Channelview, Cloverleaf and Sheldon, using $3.8 million in Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery money to jump-start the new routes.

Service started Dec. 2, quickly getting about 500 riders in the second week along roughly 65 miles of new service.

“When you have that freedom to ride a bus, that opens up so many more services to you,” said Daphne Lamelle, executive director of the Harris County Community Services Department.

The need is especially pronounced in eastern Harris County after Harvey led to the loss of thousands of cars and trucks, Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said Wednesday as he and other county officials dedicated the five new routes.

“We don’t think about these things until we need them,” Garcia said, lamenting the need for cars in rangy parts of the county.

[…]

Future money to operate the service will come from federal sources, doled out locally by the Houston Galveston Area Council, said Ken Fickes, transit services director for Harris County.

The new county service operates every 30, 60 or 90 minutes, depending on the route, and many connect to Metro at the Mesa Transit Center along Tidwell and along Uvalde at Woodforest Boulevard.

Transfers to Metro, at least for the foreseeable future, will be free, said Metro Vice-chairman Jim Robinson, who represents Harris County on the transit agency board.

“We have pulled out all the stops to make this a going thing,” Robinson said of the desire to extend transit to more places.

You can view the routes for existing and new bus services here. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t realized any of this existed. I knew that Metro’s service area did not include some number of non-Houston cities within Harris County, and many of those cities are in the eastern part of the county, I just either didn’t know or had forgotten that the county provided some limited transit service for them. I guess I have mostly thought of this in terms of transit-less Pasadena, which remains a stubborn island of car-only transportation.

Commissioner Garcia and Metro are both interested in extending Metro’s services out to these cities – I touched on this in my recent interview with Metro Chair Carrin Patman, though again I was more Pasadena-focused than I might have been – which is a great idea and something that will require both legislative action and local voter approval, to add a penny to their sales tax rate. That means that even in a best-case scenario, we’re talking at least two years for such a thing to happen. The main thing to do to facilitate that in the meantime is get as many people as possible using the service, and making the case to everyone else in those cities that it benefits them as well even if they’re not riding those buses. And please, do bring Pasadena into this – there’s really no reason why Metro’s service doesn’t include all of Harris County. Houston Public Media has more.

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9 Comments

  1. becky earle says:

    And how is this related to Hurricane Recovery?

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    First thing I noticed, too, Becky. Absolutely right. This exemplifies everything wrong with government disaster relief.

  3. Ross says:

    It’s related to Harvey because a bunch of folks lost vehicles, and can’t afford to replace them.

  4. Cooper says:

    Hi Becky, as Ross mention this was done to assist low and middle class Houstonians who lost their cars and are unable to afford new ones. The point is to minimize the burden on the citizen and bring accessibility to more people with another mode of transportation. Less new highways means more area for ground water mitigation.

  5. Astralis says:

    Total BS.

  6. b earle says:

    Cooper and Ross – I get the intent to create transportation for those who lost their vehicles in the hurricane – thank you for pointing it out (I obviously must read these posts more carefully 🙂 ). But, there are still so many people who are not back in their homes in Houston, or their homes have not been repaired and I would like to see some funds open up for that.

  7. Jg says:

    Right? Screw those poor people who can’t afford a new car. And increasing public transit to reduce our impact on the planet? Bah! I need my 0.1c on my taxes back.

  8. Cooper says:

    I completely agree with you. I honestly hope we don’t see anything like Harvey again or if we do I hope we have put enough tools and precautions to mitigate as much damage as possible. I also feel like the burden should also fall on the developers that willfully develop on land that would generally hold water away from neighborhoods. Every week new homes go up without any regards to the older ones.

  9. Jules says:

    This is weird to me that bus service over two years later is tied to Harvey. Presumably the folks directly impacted by losing their vehicles have either found a way to get to work or been fired by now.

    Does any of this money ever help out individuals? Has anyone’s house been fixed or car been replaced?