METRO Board Meeting
Public Comments by LINK Houston Director of Community Affairs, Ashley Johnson
April 25, 2019
Chair Patman and members of the METRO Board:
Good morning, my name is Ashley Johnson, Director of Community Affairs for LINK Houston, which advocates for equitable transportation so all people can reach opportunity.
We come this morning as an ally with community leaders from the Kashmere Gardens and Trinity-Houston Gardens neighborhoods to raise awareness of conditions in the METRO service network for these areas and to make recommendations for improvements. These three leaders are the founding members of the Northeast Houston Redevelopment Council; two are also presidents of the super neighborhoods. Ahead of METRO’s participation in the Northeast Houston community town hall meeting on Saturday, these leaders are here to share with the Board what they’ve gathered from the community for your consideration – in METRO now as well as within METRONext.
As with other communities we have partnered with, the challenges are similar: improved bus reliability, increased span-of-service to provide greater frequency, accessibility and resources at bus stops, and connectivity to major activity centers.
Specifically, we have noted limited street lighting at or near METRO stops along Lockwood Road and Kelley Street – a public safety condition that would affect the likelihood of bus riders using these stops during evenings and/or off-peak hours. In addition, several stops along Hirsch Road and Laura Koppe Road of the #3 Homestead route lacked benches or bus shelters. Given that the populations within these neighborhoods include significant populations seniors and persons with disabilities, there is value in the provision of resources which would allow for better comfort pending the arrival of buses, or for waits during less favorable weather conditions.
LINK Houston has also identified an absence of METRO service and stops along a two-mile distance of Little York Road, between Homestead Road and the I-69/Eastex Freeway. Shown on the current METRO service map as between the #6 and #77 routes, this area of thoroughfare has along its path several establishments, including a U.S. Postal Service branch, a system branch of Houston Community College, and shopping center that includes a drug store, home improvement store, office supply center, and discount clothing retail. Such a hindrance [absence of METRO service and stops along Little York Road] not only takes potential profitability away from the businesses at this storefront, but it also results in a barrier for local residents, or even commuter students to the HCC campus – all of which would be paying METRO customers.
Given these observations and many others that my counterparts will mention in their remarks, the Kashmere Gardens and Trinity-Houston Gardens community leaders, along with LINK Houston, ask the Board to consider these recommendations:
- Installation of benches and bus shelters at bus stops along the #3 and #45 routes, plus improved maintenance of these stops;
- Installation of lighting at Northeast Houston bus stops to increase safety for transit riders waiting at stops with a service frequency at or longer than 30 minutes in duration, perhaps through City of Houston’s agreement with CenterPoint;
- Providing improved east-to-west access in Trinity-Houston Gardens along Little York Road be establishing a new route or by modifying existing services – such a route would complement the proposed Community Connector in METRONext Moving Forward;
- Prioritizing the planned investments in Bus Rapid Transit for Route 80 MLK/Lockwood and implement the BOOST bus service improvements in Northeast Houston.
LINK Houston reiterates the vital importance of “access to opportunity.” This access includes providing an infrastructure which offers public transit users a rider experience equitable to that which exists in other parts of the METRO service network. We thank you for your attention.