Originally posted to citylab.com on April 5, 2016 by Laura Bliss.
Not long ago, Houston’s bus service befit a version of the city out of the 1950s. Despite decades of decentralized urban growth, most bus lines still zig-zagged into one small section of the downtown core, where only 25 percent of the region’s jobs are located. Route redundancies were rampant. And despite the all-day transit needs of university students and low-income riders, frequent service (meaning buses arriving every 15 minutes or faster) was mostly limited to weekday rush hours.
But as a new short documentary from Streetfilms recounts, one Sunday morning in August 2015, Houstonians awoke to a completely re-envisioned system—the first that the Metropolitan Transit Agency had undertaken in four decades. A less redundant, more grid-like network of routes “vastly expanded the reach of frequent service” and offered all-day, all-week service on several key lines, according to Human Transit’s Jarrett Walker, who worked with the city as a consultant on the redesign. Houston Metro was able to transform the system largely by trimming and tightening unnecessary routes, with no significant additional costs. The original before-and-after network maps are fairly breath-taking.