Houston, TX, a city known for its massive highways and car-centric design, has been making significant improvements to its bus system. The video below, created by StreetFilms, explains that process and the unprecedented results: Just four months after making adjustments to its system, Houston buses have seen a 10% increase in ridership. Strong Towns member, James Llamas, works for an engineering firm that helped to rebuild the Houston bus system. He wrote about that in an article earlier this year.
Clarence Eckerson at StreetFilms provides some background on the Houston bus story:
Back in 2012, Houston's bus network was in trouble. Ridership was down, and weekend ridership was especially weak. Frequent service was rare. Routes didn't go directly where people needed to go. If you wanted to get from one place outside downtown to another place outside downtown, you still had to take a bus downtown and transfer.
It was a system that had basically stayed frozen since the 1970s. And as you can surmise, the service it provided was not effective, convenient, or appealing for many types of trips.
METRO's solution was to wipe the slate clean. What would Houston's bus network look like if you designed it from scratch? By re-examining every bus route in the city, talking to bus riders, and making tough decisions, METRO reinvented its bus network. The new system features better, more efficient routes, shorter wait times, and increased service on nights and weekends.
If you're looking for an afternoon pick-me-up, this will leave you feeling great about the potential for improving public transportation systems and maybe even inspire you to help better your own transit system: