Now we get to see how it all goes.
Seven members of the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority board were among the first passengers to try the revamped bus network launched early Sunday morning after taking a 30-minute bus ride around the city.
Metro CEO Tom Lambert joined along on their quick spin across town, allowing them to see the results of more than two years of planning in action for the first time.
“We’re looking forward to getting more and more people to give us a test drive this week,” Lambert said at a press conference before boarding the bus, adding that his staff has focused on making sure customers have all the information they need in hand.
Board secretary Christof Spieler said there is a palpable difference in the quality of the new bus system that will likely make peoples’ commutes easier.
“I was standing there last night, watching the last runs on the old network, and it’s just amazing how much better Houston’s transit system is this morning than it was last night,” Spieler said. “This is one of the biggest transitions any transit system in the United States has ever done and there has been extraordinary effort on the part of the staff to actually make this happen.”
Houston’s transition has certainly drawn national attention – five employees from the Central Ohio Transit Authority have been watching Houston’s staff work to unveil the new routes in preparation for their own system upgrade in 2017.
“Our system is definitely smaller,” said COTA spokeswoman Lisa Myers on Sunday. “But lots of great ideas are happening here that we can certainly scale to Columbus, Ohio.”
Rides are free all this week – local buses and light rail – and there will be Metro personnel around town helping people figure out the new routes. There are tools and utilities available on the Metro website to help as well. It will be a few days before I get a chance to ride – and honestly, the bus route I take hasn’t changed that much – but if you’re a rider I’d love to hear your experiences. Leave a comment and let us know what you think of the changes. Texas Leftist has more.