Public Transportation, Houston
The Houston Metrorail is the city's first attempt at mass transportation, other than the bus system that is. After almost 4 years of construction, service began in January of 2004, just before Superbowl XXXVIII. The good thing is that the train is a very nice, convenient way of getting from one place to another. It runs from the University Of Houston Downtown campus, through Downtown and Midtown, past the Museum District and the Texas Medical Center, and on down to the Reliant Stadium/Arena and Astrodome complex. If you are planning on being in or around any of these areas and need to get to one of the other ones, you are in luck! The Metrorail will get you there, and only for a dollar each way, or a two dollar day pass. At each stop you will find a kiosk machine to purchase your ticket(s). Now for the bad news. Houston is a huge city! The aforementioned areas comprise just a small area of the total town. The train does not go to either of the airports. It does not go to the Galleria. It does not go to NASA. And for residents, it does not go anywhere near 99% of their homes. So Metrorail is really more of a hopeful beginning to a much more widespread system. But this has yet to be determined, so any future train lines are years away. A nice train, limited access!
Houston is proudly entering... the 20th Century (yes, I mean 20 not 21st)!! It just built its first tramway line. Even if it's about time some decent common transportation sees the light of day in this car-city, I am very happy that this rail line exists! May many many more be built!!
Here is the path of the one tramway line, broadly NE-SW, on my "General tips" Houston area map, from 1 to 22
-Starts from the Nothern part of downtown (University of Houston Downtown campus)
-Runs along Main Street, which got revitalize as a consequence of the rail. Saturday and Sunday evening, Main street becomes a pedestrian only zone, and is supposed to be very lively (bars, restaurants,...).
- Passes through the Museum District (Fannin & San Jacinto Streets depending on which way), a couple blocks East of Rice University campus.
- Passes through the Medical Center (Fannin St).
- Passes at the Reliant Park Stadiums (Fannin St)
- Ends just South of 610 loop near the 6 Flags Astroworld entertainment park.
There is a train every 12 minutes
Tickets at vending machines at the stations: 1$ per person one way.
This tramway is very pleasant, safe and efficient. You can park for $2 at the Southern end of the line (Fannin South): exit Fannin on 610, go South on Fannin, and follow the signs "Park and Ride". I highly recommand you to take the tramway if you have to go to the Medical Center (expensive parking there!), the Museum District or Downtown.
Despite what you may have heard, Houston has a pretty good public transportation system that consists mostly of busses [www.ridemetro.org/services/publicguides.asp].
Additionally, there is a free trolley system
[www.ridemetro.org/pdf/routes/trolley.pdf] that runs downtown.
There is also as a relatively useless rail-line
[www.ridemetro.org/pdf/routes/700metrorail.pdf] that connects downtown to the Reliant Park / Astrodome area (via the Museum District and Medical Center).
In Baltimore we call this the Light Rail service, I don't remember what it's called here.
It's a one-line service for now, with future expansion planned. Basically follows Main Street....
This service just opened up in January '04. Since then, there have been over 35 Car-vs-Train accidents.
The most common cause? Cars illegally turning left, right in front of the trolleys.
Metro is the name of the public transportation (buses) in and around Houston.
If you're going to a big event like the Houston Livestock and Rodeo then you might try riding the Metro to the event. Parking to such huge events as these can be unbearable. Therefore, the city sets up different park-and-rides to the events.
Also, if you are one that is big on public transportation and do not want to rent a car than this would be your only option other than calling a taxi company to arrange your pick-ups and drop-offs.
Fares cost anywhere from $.50 to $3.50
There are discounts for seniors, students and those with disabilities.
On their website they do have a link for visitors to see the major bus routes along the main sights of Houston.
Check out the website for routes, schedules, and MUCH, MUCH more!
Metro Solutions is much more than simply a rail transit plan. The bus system component of the plan provides for a massive expansion and upgrade of Metro's bus services. With about 44 new bus routes to provide transit access to currently underserved portions of Metro's service area additional park & ride lots, all-day P&R service, and introduction of a de facto Quality Bus service. In addition, MetroLift service for the mobility-impaired would be significantly expanded.
Houston does have public transport - I have used the bus system on occasion, however like a lot of people in Houston I am reliant on my car to get to and from work and around to the places I need or want to visit.
Houston does have a good metro line if you are in town and close enough to use it. I live no where near it and I've not yet had the chance to use it, however one day I will! It goes through Downtown Houston and stops at all the main sports stadiums as well as the Musiem district. The Metro website link should be here as well.
Houston's Metrorail is a convenient way to traverse the city's northeast-southwest corridor from University of Houston's downtown campus to Fannin South, just beyond I-610 and Reliant Park. Much of the route follows Houston's historic Main Street near the cotton exchanges, old government buildings, Minute Maid Park, and many of the city's huge skyscrapers. At Highway 59 the route turns slightly to follow Fannin St through the Museum District, Rice University, Hermann Park, Hermann Hospital, Texas Medical Center, Houston Zoo, and Reliant Park. The entire journey takes 32 minutes end-to-end along its 7.5 mile route.
Throughout its entire route, the train runs at street level meaning it has to contend with street lights, pedestrians, and traffic, but it also means you don't have to walk deep down into or out of a subterranean station at each end of your journey. The Metrorail has connections with Metrobus routes at each station along its line.
There are plans to add an east-west line roughly following the Highway 59 corridor from Galleria to Texas Southern University & the University of Houston Central Campus.
Overall, the Metrorail is cheap ($2/person), easy, well-used, and convenient. You can buy a ticket each time you ride, or you can purchase stored-value card at a significant discount from regular fares.
My only "tour" of Houston this time consisted of riding the train along the entire journey, and looking out this front window. When you are in a pinch for time but would like to note spots of interest to visit in the future, I would recommend it.
Houston is spread out but if you are staying near the city center (downtown) our local bus system works well. There is also a train that goes from downtown (hotels, restaurants, bars) to the south (museum district, zoo, medical center, reliant park/stadium)
The city is notorious about lack of public transport. The recent rail line from downtown to the Museum District and Astrodome area certainly improved this, but still the hotels that are a good value are not close to this line. There are rush hour bus expresses that are efficient, but useful really only for commuters. Regular bus service is very infrequent, the buses break down often, but are nice, clean and air conditioned.
We parked our car near Herman Park and took the Metrorail in. It was easy, cheap ($2 each round trip, ticket bought from ticket dispenser at the stop) and smooth, got a little crowded closer to town but seemed like a nice way to leave the driving to "them". Our only complaint was that on a Saturday morning there was a long wait between trains going and coming.
I used Houston's METRORail system to travel between Downtown and the Museum District. I found it clean, cheap and easy to use. The stations are: UH-Downtown, Preston, Main Street Square, Bell, Downtown Transit Center, McGowen, Ensemble/HCC, Wheeler, Museum District, Hermann Park/Rice U, Memorial Hermann Hospital/Houston Zoo, Dryden/TMC, TMC Transit Center, Smith Lands, Reliant Park and Fannin South. It takes 30 minutes to get from one end of the line to the other.
The trains run from 04.45 to 00.45 Mon-Thurs, 05.30-02.15am Fri-Sat & 05.30-00.45am Sun. At peak times there is a train every 6 minutes, and off-peak the longest interval between trains is 18 minutes.
You buy your tickets, using cash, credit or debit card at the METRO Ticket Vending Machines, which are on the platforms. A ticket anywhere costs just $1.
Just in general, the favorite mode of transportation is the petrol-guzzling SUV. A common sight, it is commonly associated with Texas, and in particular Houstonians. But anyhow, cars are an absolutely necessity in getting around. Public transportation here is rather limited so i would advice getting a car by renting. Always looking at ways to reduce the heavy traffics that plague the highways, Houston officials havve the HOV lane which is only open during peak hours of office. This lane is only available to cars with more than one passenger i believe. I wouldn't advice using it unless you know where it takes you. Unfortunately, because there are always accidents involving big humongous trucks and trailers, traffic jam can become really often as it involves a laborious process that involves a lot of parties due to litigation issues... also, if you're coming from an European or Asian country, be aware that Americans, particularly Houstonians learn to drive at the age of 15. No offense to my age group, but we can be pretty dangerous on the roads.. so try and watch out.. otherwide, enjoy yourself travelling along the roads of Houston!
Hotels don't have a shuttle that does but downtown is in between both airports and Super Shuttle can take them from IAH to downtown and then to Hobby for a fee that is less than taxis. If you want the less expensive transportation the METRO bus (#102) runs from IAH to downtown and (#88) runs from downtown to Hobby airport. See www.ridemetro.org for the schedules