If you don't work or spend much time in downtown Houston, you probably have no idea what Greenlink is. But if you do work downtown or spend time here, particularly in the summer, Greenlink might be your knight in shining green armor. In simplest terms, Greenlink is a free shuttle bus that runs a two-and-a-half-mile 18-stop route downtown between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. It gets people to and from the light rail, parking locations, the convention center and lunch...always lunch.
The service, run by the Downtown Management District, has been in operation since last June 11 and has carried more than 225,000 riders thus far -- that's nearly 900 every day.
And yes, we joke about how it transports many people to lunch -- that and the tunnels -- but the truth is that Greenlink has been invaluable for moving people to and from George R. Brown Convention center, particularly during busy events like this year's NBA All Star Weekend.
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In fact, according to the Downtown Management District, the George R. Brown stop, along with the stops on Main Street at Walker and City Hall, has the highest boardings. When you consider the number of people boarding the light rail on Main, it makes sense those three stops generate the most traffic.
But for non-workers and convention-goers, the Greenlink is being expanded, at least temporarily. During the Association for Clinical Chemistry conference in July and the American Legion national conference in August, the service will run nights and weekends, connecting the convention center to Minute Maid Park, the Theater District, Main Street Square and other downtown attractions. Additional routes and regular operating times are being considered.
The best part -- besides the free thing -- is that the service is fueled by compressed natural gas, meaning no additional emissions for our car-laden city.
Next time you're walking around downtown in the summer heat and you see a giant green minibus, hop on. You'll stop sweating temporarily and get to lunch in a much better mood.