Houston doesn’t prioritize public transit enough

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Houston is one of the largest cities in the country, home to about 2.3 million. With such a large range of people, it’s no secret that such a sizable city would need adequate public transit to boot.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and the sudden shelving of recent METRO line projects only serves to reinforce the city’s lack of priorities regarding public transport.

One reliable thing about Houston is the guarantee that its public transportation system is lacking. Accessibility is practically nonexistent, which causes fewer people to use the sparse rail and bus lines that are available, and leads to the consistently awful traffic we all know and love. 

With this inaccessibility comes the issue of existing lines not running through areas with schools and other educational and economic opportunities.

This is a problem that would have been addressed with METRO’s “University Corridor,” but in mid-June, METRO decided to halt it.

To give a brief idea of what the project would have provided, it was proposed to have five bus lines and was meant to cover about 25 miles. Stops along these routes included the Harrisburg Art Museum, Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital and several universities, including our own University of Houston. There were even stops near parks and high schools.

If the loss of easy access to schools and other economic opportunities wasn’t disappointing enough on its own, one of the biggest letdowns of the project’s cancellation is that the lines were meant to run through several low-income areas that are lacking in public transportation.

These lines could have provided much-needed opportunities to several communities, considering it was intended to have stops in Uptown, Montrose, the Third, Second and Fifth wards and more.

The University Corridor project was overwhelmingly backed by Harris County voters, who voted to approve the $7.5 billion plan back in 2019. So why cancel it now?

METRO claims their intentions are to “prioritize improved customer and community essential services and will better position the authority to increase overall system ridership,” but it’s undeniable how revolutionary the project would have been, and it’s disappointing that such an overtly backed operation has taken such a sudden hit.

Strangely enough, despite the fact that it would have provided easier access to campus for students, President Renu Khator actually opposed the project back in 2022, claiming it would cut campus off from highways and thoroughfares.

It’s somewhat telling that a University known for its high parking and transportation prices opposes such a project. If nothing else, Khator’s objections sound less like concern for commuting students and more as though the University has a vested interest in keeping its student body paying the same rising amounts for things like parking permits.

Suffice it to say that it’s extremely disappointing that the University Corridor project was canceled, as it would have provided much-needed transportation to many, not just students. Houston, especially its students, needs adequate transit and we’re not getting it.

Parker Hodges-Beggs is a sophomore journalism major who can be reached at [email protected]

Leave a Comment