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METRO plans to use New Small Bus on 59 Route

NORTHEAST – METRO met with the East Aldine District at the beginning of June, and outlined planned changes for the Route 59 line which now transverses Aldine Mail Route hourly during weekdays.

A major change will be the use of smaller buses, allowing the cost of running this route to be reduced. Current buses are 47 passenger, more than needed to carry the daily boardings along this route. The new buses will be much smaller, carrying only 12 passengers plus 2 wheelchair positions, but will have the improvement of no internal steps. METRO will put these buses into service on Route 59 on August 25th, according to their spokesperson, Karen Marshall.

METRO now runs a fleet of 1230 full size buses, and will add 40 of these new smaller buses on various routes.

The East Aldine District has been providing a subsidy to METRO for the last year, of $30,000, to insure that this vital bus service continues for the community. Their 2013 budget includes a continuation of the subsidy, according to EAMD president David Hawes.

However, METRO has indicated that their goal for this route is 315 daily boardings, and to date the average boardings have been 242, according to METRO’s Jim Archer. When calculations for the new smaller buses are considered, it may be possible to reduce the required boardings, and eliminate the subsidy. The ridership trend is up, the working group noted, with 268 boardings in March and 259 in April of this year.

A bus line on Aldine Mail Route is not only a convenience for shoppers, students, and residents going to work, but is also a necessary component of future plans for developing a Town Center with a Lone Star campus, it was noted by the committee.

METRO is currently re-examining their total system concept, and route structure, in an event termed “Re-Imagining.” They scheduled a work session in June for this topic. A previous session was held on May 29th for this plan. The goal is to write a new 3-Year plan that would reestablish goals, routes, and equipment solutions for the movement of people in the Greater Houston area. The Re-Imagining study starts with a “blank-slate” according to METRO, and will design a regional transit system from the ground up. Options to be explored include streetcars, commuter rail, light rail, improved bus service, bus rapid transit, and HOV/HOT lanes.

As part of their outreach program to the rider public, METRO will be appearing at local events such as the Back-to-School event August 10th at Greenspoint Mall, and a Fall Fest by East Aldine District, scheduled for October 17th at Crowley Park. The community outreach officer for METRO is now Meredith Alberto. You may also contact the East Aldine District for information.