METRO Board Meeting
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Remarks as prepared by Oni Blair, Executive Director of LINK Houston

My name is Oni Blair, and I am the executive director of LINK Houston. LINK Houston advocates for a robust and equitable transportation network so that all people can reach opportunity. That means we care about sidewalks and bikeways, how highways affect communities, new technologies, and – the reason we’re here – public transit.

Today, I’m joined by community leaders to address the elements that we’d like to see stay or added to METRONext. We recognize the role that METRO plays in shaping regional economic development and access to opportunity. We want to ensure that future development is inclusive and equitable.

What we at LINK Houston like about Plan A and want to see stay and prioritized are:

  • investments in the local bus network, where METRO currently finds two-thirds of its ridership;
  • universal accessibility, so that people, regardless of their age, size, or ability, can easily navigate and use METRO’s 9,000 transit stops;
  • BOOST Network, especially these corridors: #4/Beechnut, #26/Long Point-Cavalcade, #45/Tidwell, #46/Gessner, #50 Broadway, #54/Scott, #73/Bellfort, and #80/Lockwood;
  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) extension to Gulfton as well as the University BRT line;
  • community connectors in Homestead and Aldine/Westfield;
  • and new transit centers in Gulfton and Tidwell/Fulton

These specific projects will significantly improve the transit network to the benefit of much of the region and will fuel modest economic growth by connecting people to opportunity, especially in historically under-resourced communities.

In addition to what’s in the current version of METRONext’s Plan A, LINK Houston sees five ways to improve the transit network and service quality. We would like METRONext Plan A to:

  1. Expand service hours as near as feasible to 24 hours a day, seven days a week on existing and future rail, BRT, and BOOST services;
  2. Create a Greenspoint Transit Center, given existing ridership, route transfers, one of the lowest car ownership rates in Houston, and the proposed transit service enhancements already prioritized in METRONext;
  3. Add a community connector in Gulfton for similar reasons;
  4. Enhance signage and wayfinding at principal stations and stops to increase the utility of transit signage, improve the rider’s experience, and encourage safe first and last-mile access. Ideally, this signage would include information about transfer connections, bikeways/bike amenities, and accessible walking routes to destinations within a half-mile radius; and
  5. Improve Park-and-Ride facilities to transform the large lots into inviting hubs that people can also reach by walking, biking, carpool, or a car service. The improvements would promote transit ridership and make Park and Ride sites easier for people to use regardless of whether they have a car.

We recognize that METRO has been imaginative and proposed big changes. We know that we’ve seen in Plan A (or A expanded) is only about 1/10th of the full vision for what METRO believes transit mobility should, or could, provide in the Houston region. We hope that the Board will include these elements before engaging the public with METRONext and especially before finalizing the vision document.

LINK Houston
April 17, 2019