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Friday, January 15, 2021

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Metro changes get off to a bumpy start


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Free rides with Metro Transportation went from Aug. 16 to Saturday. All these changes are a part of the new bus network. Metro’s plan is to connect 1 million Houstonians with 1 million jobs. | Sonia Zuniga/The Cougar

This past week, Houstonians have been able to ride Metro transportation for free. And even though the free rides are over, the new bus network that led to them is here to stay.

The verdict on whether the changes are positive is yet to come in.

“There’s people who have been passionately for it and happy with it, and there’s those on the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s mixed feedback at this point,” said Monica Russo, a media specialist for Metro. “It’s hard to tell this early on (what the feedback is). We have seen higher than normal ridership this week, but that was to be expected.”

And while free rides caught people’s eyes and had them riding more than usual, the new bus network has generated responses that haven’t been as supportive.

“My schedule has been all messed up so far. I took bus 25 to get to UH, and the route was wrong or something,” said Esteban Reyes, 32, who is thinking of attending UH. “They told me there were detours they had to make, and then ended up driving through the campus anyways.”

The changes in the Metro system are big, including new routes, buses every 15 minutes, transportation seven days a week and going later in the day, according to a Metro news release.

With big changes, perhaps a few hiccups are to be expected. But to some, it would seem that METRO simply overlooked a few aspects.

In the Fifth Ward, complaints about a lack of shelters and confusing new lines abound, according to KTRK-TV. This has affected normal riders as well as seniors, both of who are used to their usual buses and usual routes.

“The phone line for missed buses was backed up, the app wasn’t updated,” Reyes said. “The app said my bus would come in two minutes, and then said 45 minutes. No bus even went by in that time.”

Complaints are understandable. But will time fix the issues and prove the new bus network to be a better system?

“I was pretty comfortable with my schedule,” Reyes said. “I don’t care if they change, but it shouldn’t mess up my schedule. I just don’t think they were very helpful in making the transition smooth for us.”

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