Metro is slashing more bus routes

Apparently the glare coming off those shiny light rail trains has obscured the vision of Metro Bigs, because in the past couple of weeks two more bus routes have been discontinued. Here's the Chronicle's story about the end of Route 55:

Metro officials said that consistent low ridership on Route 55 and new transit authority leadership were the primary reasons for the cancellation of the service which started in June.

"It's costing us more to run the service than its worth," Metro spokesman Chip Lambert said. "There is also a philosophical shift on how we provide service, thanks to a new management. Services are going to be provided where they are most needed."

He said that when service began in May, officials expected more than 2,300 people to use the service every week. In the first month, ridership averaged 541. He added that the highest number was in August when the route averaged 856 passengers, but that average fell to 835 in September and continues to decline.

Well, Metro IS concerned about cost. That's good to know.

Now might be the right time to have another look at something still posted on Metro's website:

The METRO Solutions transit plan for better mobility calls for the creation and improvement of numerous transportation options over the next 20 years:

72 miles of additional rail service
50% more bus service
Signature Express bus service
250 miles of two-way,
all day Park & Ride service
Nine new Park & Ride lots
Nine new Transit Centers
and more!

50% more bus service. How does Metro expect to get there if it keeps cancelling bus routes? Metro says it "is an innovative regional transportation organization...committed to...provide the safest, highest quality services and mobility solutions that exceed our customers' expectations while creating economic growth." That mission statement is due for an overhaul.

Here's the second Chronicle article on a disappearing bus route, and this one includes some riders who are not happy:

A few would-be riders still stand at designated stops in northwest Houston, waiting for Bus No. 43 the Pinemont Circulator to take them to work.

They have a long wait.

On Oct. 30, Bus 43 was one of several routes eliminated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. The reduction in bus transit service was made necessary by the laws of supply and demand, said Bill Peterson, Metro's director of service development.

"If people don't need the service or use the service as it's provided like everything else in life there's change involved," Peterson said Monday, shortly after No. 43 completed its last run.

The Metro board's decision to curtail the bus, one of several either eliminated outright or on weekdays or weekends, hasn't gone down well with several of the riders who say they depend on the bus to get to work. About 1,000 of them signed a petition asking Metro to reconsider the decision, signatures Peterson received Oct. 20.

This is not how Metro is going to win friends in the community. By pouring every dime it can scrounge up into the seven miles of retro trains, the grand poo-bahs of Metro are leaving the people who genuinely need transportation services standing at bus stops waiting for busses that aren't coming. That's not a very innovative mobility solution.

It's good to see the Chronicle run these stories, but it's necessary to point out that these didn't run in the "City/State" section. Both of these stories ran in the regional "This Week" sections, which guarantees a much smaller readership. That's akin to burying them. It's long past time for the Chronicle to get past its Metro advocacy and start advocating for the people who REALLY need what Metro should be providing.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/05/04 06:37 PM | Print |

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