Houston’s New Short Buses

HOUSTON’S NEW SHORT BUSES Metro will roll out a fleet of these 15-passenger van-like buses this week on 13 underused routes, reports The Highwayman’s Dug Begley: “Following a voter referendum to continue giving a quarter of Metro’s sales tax collections to local cities for road repairs, the agency said smaller buses would be a better fit for routes where conventional 40-foot buses were mostly empty.” According to a press release from Metro, the shorter 27-ft. buses will have “all the amenities” of the conventional ones, with “header signs, interior pull cords, and audio/visual announcements.” You’ll be able to see them for yourself tomorrow at the Southeast Transit Center on Scottcrest; the buses will begin running routes Wednesday and Thursday from the Magnolia TC on Harrisburg and the Acres Homes TC on Little York. [The Highwayman; Ride Metro] Image: Write on Metro

11 Comment

  • I wish they would do this for more routes. Forty foot busses seem poorly suited for many routes, whether because of low ridership or just being unwieldy. Trading for smaller busses might even make for better service, if efficiency savings over large busses allow more frequent departures.

  • Those are already running, saw the 37 route “el sol” downtown last week. Was taken aback by the new bright LED screens..

  • Maybe these buses will actually be able to turn right at Weslayan and Alabama.

  • “Since taxpayers decided Metro’s tax revenue was better used in other places, Metro decided to start spending money responsibly.”

    There, FIFY Mr. Begley.

  • This is great news–maybe with the savings in not buying a big bus to begin with, the city could hire more drivers and run more of these short buses on busier routes.

  • Jason C if the route was busier then it would need a bigger bus.. more buses and more drivers on that route would actual cost more overall.

  • Am I the only one who feels that the paint scheme on metro buses are out of date? Metro looks like the same Metro from 1985! Maybe a new up to date paint job or image on their buses will give them a new image in the minds of the public. I like LA’s and Austins bus paint job.

  • @Brandon: If a route is busy enough to need big busses, it should have them. But four small busses an hour is more convenient for riders than two large busses, assuming the smaller ones aren’t over capacity. Numbers are speculative, BTW. Don’t know what real operating costs are.

  • Labor (the driver) accounts for about 80% of the operating cost of a transit vehicle. METRO did manage to exact a concession from the union so that the minibus drivers will be paid slightly less. These smaller buses can also trim fuel and maintenance costs compared to a large bus but they don’t last as long. They will marginally improve the economics of some low-ridership routes but aren’t really a game changer when it comes to costs. Interestingly, the routes that were already switched to METROLift vans as an interim measure saw ridership drop. We’ll see if these new vehicles turn that trend around.

  • Maybe for very low ridership routes they can start using 5 seat vehicles, i.e. a car.

  • Sounds like most of you agree that the jitney service The Wave runs is what the City of Houston needs many more of. Short distance, circulating services. More buses and routes to come.