Remarks as prepared
Chair Patman and members of the METRO Board:
Good morning, my name is Ashley Johnson, I am the Director of Community Affairs for LINK Houston, an organization which advocates for equity in transportation. Today, LINK Houston stands as an ally with leaders from the Eastex-Jensen community to urge improvements in METRO’s existing service network. LINK Houston recognizes METRO’s efforts to collect input on METRONext. We urge you to hear and act on the Eastex-Jensen community’s recommendations in METRO now or in METRONext.
Today, I am here with parents of students from Patrick Henry Middle School. These parents gathered dozens of signatures on a petition requesting METRO to provide public transportation services to and from the school. Many of the students live in households without private vehicles, yet within the school zone, meaning they have no ride to school and are not eligible for a school bus. The 79, 83, and 6 routes run in the neighborhood but nowhere near Patrick Henry Middle School. Many students walk within the 2-mile zone daily to and from campus despite limited sidewalk infrastructure and safety concerns. These parents are here to request a bus stop at the school so that students, parents, and staff – all paying customers — can use METRO services.
I am also present today with business leaders from the Little York Shopping Plaza, located at the northeast corner of the Hardy Toll Road and Little York Road. The shopping center houses 14 local businesses and stores frequented by Eastex-Jensen residents, as well as members of the adjacent Northline and East Little York/Homestead communities. No public bus stops presently exist at or adjacent to the shopping center. From the plaza, the closest bus stop directly to the east is a 0.7-mile walk at Bauman Road and Little York on the #79 route. The closest bus directly stop to the west is a 1.3-mile walk at the corner of Shady Lane and Little York on the #83 route This means that in Northeast Houston there is nearly 2-mile stretch on Little York where no public transit exists for community members to reach the commercial outlets, the grocery store, a Latino bakery, or the local Texas Health and Human Services Commission office.
Transportation to reach destinations such as a public school or a neighborhood shopping center – this is what LINK Houston means by ‘access to opportunity’. Today, these residents, civic leaders, and business leaders will share their experiences and urge you to consider these options:
- Development of a circular connector (with a fixed route – not an on-demand service) that can provide public transportation for students to destination such as Patrick Henry Middle School, the Little York Shopping Plaza and other important places of interest within Eastex-Jensen;
- Extension or modification of the #79 or #83 routes to provide improved north-to-south access in the Eastex-Jensen community, including along Little York Road at its portion east of the Hardy Toll Road.
- Creation of new stops to accommodate community residences such as apartments and homes (properties noted include complexes located at 2000 Tidwell Road and 10300 Shady Lane);
- Creation of a new stop along Little York to reach the shopping center, or as an direct inlet into its parking;
- Inclusion of existing Northeast Houston bus routes in METRONext proposed BOOST corridors.