Thursday, August 6, 2015

METRO Houston's New Bus Network System Maps

This week Houston's METRO released updated system maps in anticipation of its Sunday, August 16th New Bus Network. Overnight, the bus system will change from its current configuration and service levels, to an entirely new system.

The new system maps will assist Houston's transit users in navigating the city. It is possible to travel in Houston without a car! The newly released maps are available on METRO's website, and should be available in print in the coming days, in advance of August 16th's network change. METRO has also updated the new system's interactive service map, which allows transit users to select new bus routes one by one to highlight their geography and frequency. The dual trip planner allows transit users to compare their current transit route to new routes.

Readers of the New Bus Network system's inset maps for the Downtown Houston/Midtown/Museum District/Texas Medical Center and Park and Ride system will notice a subway-system-like design, seemingly taking inspiration from Beck's 1933 London Tube map, and other subway system maps, including Massimo Vignelli's 1972 NYC subway map. These insets will be extremely helpful for riders navigating Houston's large landscape. Much like previous transit maps, especially London's sprawling transit system, the inset maps sacrifice exact geography to present transit users with basic route information.

Riders will notice a bit of additional information included on the Downtown Houston/Midtown/Museum District/Texas Medical Center inset map. Walking times are listed for paths between major destinations and between transit modes. I hope that the inclusion of this information will help show that there are great possibilities for traveling in Houston without a car, especially if your destinations are in proximity to Downtown Houston.

METRO Houston's Downtown inset map

METRO Houston's Park and Ride system map

Riders will also find the frequency and rough operating hours for each route listed on the map.

A system-wide map shows the breadth of METRO's coverage. On the system map routes are color coded by frequency, which corresponds to the previously mentioned frequency table.

METRO's overall system map

METRO riders will find these maps helpful and clarifying. Gone are the maps with precise arrival times. As a city, I hope that this New Bus Network and more clearly communicated transit options will encourage some to discover the benefits of public transit, and to see Houston from a different perspective. You can try out the New Bus Network, and any light rail line, for free from August 16th to August 22nd.


  1. The "precise arrival times" were usually only suggestions. For afternoon, evening & weekend travel, the new system might be an improvement.

    However, I've actually been commuting by Metro (bus & train) for some years. And it was really useful to know when the bus was expected at my nearest stop--in the early morning, when the schedule was usually pretty reliable.

    I'll check these latest "guides." But the last time I checked, I saw that the bus I take to the train (then work) every morning will run half as frequently. And at no particular time.

    The new system seems to be designed for Mass Transit Virgins. We experienced riders (& most bus drivers) think it will be a giant mess. Eventually, it will probably get readjusted.....

  2. Route guides with the exact schedules are still available. They'll just largely be unnecessary during most of the day on the frequent network.

  3. Route guides with the exact schedules are still available. They'll just largely be unnecessary during most of the day on the frequent network.