Here’s Your Completely Reimagined Metro Bus Map, Houston

After a year and a half of redrawing, presenting, and tweaking, Metro’s “reimagined” transit plan was approved by the transportation agency’s board today. The interactive map above shows the whole system in all its reconfigured glory, including the new rail lines currently scheduled to begin running in April. Bus routes will switch over to the above route system in August.


Bus lines are represented by color: Routes drawn in red will run every 15 minutes or less at least 15 hours a day, 7 days a week. Lines shown in blue will run every 16 to 30 minutes. Lines drawn in green will run every 31 minutes to 60 minutes, 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. Orange “express” lines will run only during peak hours, on weekdays. A full-page map is available here.

Map: Metro

All Approved for August

32 Comment

  • Well shoot, the train still doesn’t go to the airport.

  • Interesting to see the Navigation line has been removed after the city spent all that money building fancy bus stops.

  • Here it is five years after the demolition of the Wilshire Village apartments where the Lake Flato H-E-B now stands, and two years after the demolition of the Montrose Fiesta, and Metro is still using maps that show both the Fiesta and Wilshire Village.

    I would be sad at the demise of the #78 Alabama route if it had ever run with sufficient frequency and punctuality to make it worth riding. So now, if you’re trying to get home from the corner of Dunlavy and W. Alabama, you’ll have to walk to Westheimer or Richmond with your groceries.

    Looks like the #82 Westheimer is no longer a 24-hour route.

    And the #41 Kirby, formerly the #18, is still an infrequent route (15-30 minute wait), which means it still won’t get used as much as it would if it ran more often.

    But hey, the #25 Richmond now (once again!) goes all the way to UH and TSU. I guess that’s Metro acknowledging that the “Westpark” line will never get built.

  • How does it compare to the map it’s supposed to be imagining? Were any routes added, or rerouted?

    Doesn’t look like what I think would be an improvement, though. If you work off some of those freeways, the park and rides may do nothing for you besides get you downtown.

    Still no way to get around 610, and I can’t tell how much of the beltway is in the Metro service area, but I’d like to see more of that, or better yet a beltway loop if possible.

  • And people say Houston doesn’t have mass transit!?!?!?! The whole city is covered by mass transit.

    The problem, of course, is that the bus system sucks. METRO needs to switch from buses to shuttle vans (like the ones that take you to car when parked off-site at the airport. Then instead of having a big bus every 30 minutes, we can have a shuttle every 10 minutes.

    Sitting at a bus stop sucks. Waiting sucks. That’s why people driver their own cars.

    If there were shuttles going up and down every major street, with an average wait time of 5 minutes and a max wait time of 10 minutes, a whole lot of people would ride it.

  • Is it still going to take me an hour and 15 mins to take the bus from the heights to the galleria? If so….I’ll drive.

  • Bernard: isn’t that what those flex zones they were proposing are? I think they’re doing one in Acres Homes. I thought the idea behind those is that they work like airport parking shuttles. You give them your address and they wind through the area dropping off other people until they reach your house,

  • METRO had to formulate this under a budget constraint – minimal or no operating cost increase as a result of the changes. I guess they came pretty close, there will still be some $ they have to come up with. But, regarding the frequency of service, a huge part of operating cost is the driver. Vans, small bus, big bus, you still have a driver cost. More frequent service = more drivers per shift = higher cost. Though I agree more frequent service (of whatever kind of vehicle) will still be needed under this plan, they did what they could – taxpayers will have to ante up more for more frequency (or stop the transfers to other local governments). I hope to get to the day when the system calls a max 10 minute wait as the outer boundary of “frequent” – 15 minutes doesn’t fit anyone’s definition of frequent except those who have no value to their time.

    Oh, my complaint about the Briar Forest bus having a sine-wave deviation at its western end (including a stretch on a street with speed humps!) wasn’t addressed, but I’m sure METRO has a good reason for it, right?

  • I believe today’s Chroc reported that the flex zones were voted down. If the implementation of the new bus routes are handled by the same group that recently changed the routes throughout downtown, this plan will be a disaster. Routes were changed without notice to riders; riders were randomly stopping buses to ask drivers where to take their normal bus.

  • Bernard has just invented Uber.

  • Bernard, Metro tried a shuttle system like you describe around a decade ago. I am guessing it wasn’t very popular.

  • You would of thought that they would of put an Express bus route from IAH to Downtown and Hobby. Also, why not eliminate congestion Downtown and eliminate the local buses by having them connect with the train outside of the downtown area. Park and Ride buses should only be allowed downtown.

    I never understood why the W Alabama route lasted this long, as usually only has 5 people on it. Finally it looks like they are killing it.

  • And people wonder why Houston’s mass transit sucks. For example it’d take 2 hours (not including wait times) to commute via bus from inner loop to the energy corridor. That’s just 15 miles. It would be significantly faster TO BIKE (not that I would, as I would turn into roadkill). Curious did CoH ever conceive of a rail line that parallels I-10 or any of the major highways?

  • I agree with the wait time issues. Who wants to wait around for 15-30 min for a bus. I live only 7 miles from work. I would love to take mass transit, but instead of a 10 min car ride down 288 from downtown., it would take me an hour each way to either take the train or bus route to work. Who has time for that?

  • How do exactly do they propose to get a forty-foot BUS on #41 Kirby the chance to turn left from Dunlavy onto Allen Parkway at any other time of day than the dead of night? If I remember correctly, there’s even a no left turn sign that is now posted there.

  • I thought I saw an article saying that two the three proposed flex zones were voted down. The third, Acres Homes, was kept as a pilot program. We’ll see how it works.
    Planner: if they’re starved for funding, wouldn’t it make more sense to rethink the suburban park & ride model? Instead of paying for stand alone park &rides, they could build smaller facilities attached to suburban shopping malls. They could share parking, plus it’d give the malls more morning and evening customers in the form of commuters. An added bonus is that from what I can see, the malls are actually better connected for pedestrians, a lot of the time, than Metro’s Park & Rides.

  • In my opinion this is a huge improvement over the current system. This makes the transit system like any sensible city’s system, where you can reasonably take transit between any two points you’d want to go inside the loop. In the current system if you’re going anywhere that isn’t on the way to downtown, you’re SOL. It’s now actually plausible for me to ride to work (Heights to Greenway). Also makes a lot more sense for tourists (laugh it up, they’re already here), as it’ll be easy to get between Heights, Montrose, Galleria, Midtown, Downtown without renting a car.

    @HAG don’t blame Metro for oil companies putting their offices in the suburbs. If you put an office outside the beltway you’re making car ownership a job requirement for employees.

  • @MarkH

    METRO had an express route from downtown to the airport for several years. It had very poor ridership and they eventually canceled it.

  • Some thoughts on above comments based on my understanding of the plan.
    41 Kirby: There is a signal proposed to be installed at Dunlavy as part of the Allen Parkway redesign. The bus will take a slightly modified route until then.
    Downtown congestion: there will be a significant reduction in # of buses downtown with more connections to rail and other express buses outside of Downtown
    Shuttle Vans: Most of the cost of operating a bus is in the driver. Until we have autonomous cars and buses that will remain the issue, regardless of the size of the vehicle
    Briar Forest: board direction was to maintain access to existing riders. Straightening the route which would have big time savings to those riding through would have left a number of riders relatively far from service
    Existing vs proposed map: can be viewed here:
    Heights to Galleria: depends where you are in the Heights and where you are going in Galleria but can take shepherd to memorial routes or 20th to post oak which all operate with pretty good frequency and save significant time over existing service which would likely be quickes by heading downtown to transfer
    10 min frequencies: an admirable goal and will be achieved on some routes or route segments. 10 minute frequencies (6 buses per hour) represent 50% more service than 15 min frequencies (4 buses and hour) and was likely not affordable most places with current resources.
    Train to airport: this is a near term plan to improve bus service not long term plan to build more rail
    Beltway loop: who wants to take a bus around the beltway? usually there is faster more direct way. And would you want to walk there once you got off the bus?

  • How about actually collecting fares from the people who ride the buses. My brother rides the bus everywhere he doesn’t walk and he said he sees bus drivers letting people on free every single time he’s on a bus. What’s that about. Metro is already subsidized at something like 70%.

  • I’ve always wondered, why is there no park and ride service for Sugar Land?

  • For the beltway loop, was thinking about commuting, though there would have to be a way to get to the beltway in the first place though and that’s lacking in many spots

  • @pamela-totally agree. This is true with the Metro rail too.

  • They have eliminated the West Loop Park&Ride. GENIUS.

  • @Memebag:

    No service in Sugar Land because it is not in Harris County, and the charter of Metro limits its use to Harris County. They put the West Belfort Park-and-Ride close to the border and Sugar Land has its own shuttle system to/from that location.

  • @ZAW: I believe METRO has used this technique at times (Grand Parkway) but in those cases the retail function comes first, not the transit function, so transit doesn’t get primacy of place or operation, and of course can get booted out at some point. Plus, I doubt most shopping center owners would allow METRO to build direct connector ramps to the HOV/HOT lanes on their property (which does save the bus riders a lot of time that would otherwise be spent sitting at congested traffic lights). And remember, Park and Ride fares are significantly higher than local bus fares, so there’s some revenue offset for that service.

    Your point about pedestrian connectivity, though, is spot-on. Sad when you can say that a suburban mall in Houston has better pedestrian access than a transit facility! METRO built these facilities back during an era when no one, ironically including transit agencies, gave two hoots about pedestrians.

  • @waitykatie
    The West Loop Transit Center is definitely on the map.

  • @Llanite & @Memebag,

    You got the gist but not quite. METRO’s charter has no real geographic restriction. They can serve areas outside Harris County if those areas either pay the METRO sales tax (like Missouri City, most of which is in Fort Bend County), or pay directly for the service (like Baytown, which is in Harris County but not in the sales-tax zone). Sugar Land does neither, so they get no METRO service.

  • @HeyHeyHouston: West Loop used to be a Park and Ride. Now it’s a Transit Center. Not sure what that means, really. You can still ride, but you can’t park anymore?

  • How about every FREEway (SOCIALISM!) be converted to a tollway to pay for themselves. Stuck in traffic, can’t figure out why the line at Baskin&Robbins is out the door when they’re giving away ice cream for free? How about an income tax on those who make more than $278k/yr to make all public transit free (versus paying for public transit with sales taxes ). If you owned a brick & mortar store this would help stave off the bleeding of out-of-state, tax free internet purchases. But no, pro-business, anti-market Danny Patrick gonna raise sales taxes on all of us, just watch. Also say no to gun background checks and yes to mandatory gun insurance. what the hell?!?!?

  • If people wonder why Metro sucks, its because the people with cars don’t like the idea of buses interfering with their traffic jams. Why ride on something hands-free where you can spend time listening to music, talking on the phone, napping or reading a book, when you can better spend it grinding your teeth at the driver ahead of you? Who needs the stress-less experience of someone ELSE driving, when you have the opportunity to experience stress and road rage and traffic jams and ruining your car in foul weather? Who needs to advocate for a better mass transit system when there are 45-1 hour commutes, and lots of car wear and tear and ridiculous gas prices to be had just getting to and from work. Or when there is a mediocre mass transit system to mock? Yes, we needs cars, and all that goes with them. That’s why Metro sucks.

  • Esto apesta las nuevas rutas el tiempo de espera sin contar que hablas a servicio al cliente y alguien habla un español pesimo por internet no puedes tener la ruta de un bus HORRIBLE!!!!!!