METRO For People Who Have Never Ridden METRO

METRO, here I come.
METRO, here I come. Photo by Jackson Myers
I have a confession. I am a lifelong Houstonian and I have never taken a bus anywhere. I've driven (obviously), walked, biked, taken cabs and Ubers, and even ridden the METRORail. But, I've never used METRO's most used service, the bus.

There's no specific reason why other than I've had some form of transportation and just never thought about it. Still, given all the changes that are coming to our public transportation thanks to a recently passed referendum, I thought it was time I tried to navigate the streets of Houston via these services and write about my experiences as a newbie.

So, my plan is to use only the bus, light rail and my feet over the course of the next few weeks for trips I would normally drive (or, on occasion, bike). From going to the post office or the store to catching a meeting or getting to the airport, this is an experiment for me designed to find out just what METRO is like for the average person and the complications it creates in a daily commute.

When I first began planning these trips, I decided I would just set dates randomly. That way, I couldn't plan around rain or cold weather or bad traffic. Otherwise, I'd time them to my typical schedule.

The good news is Google makes it easy to create a route. Apparently, there is also an app? As a test, I created a route from my house to a restaurant about 15 minutes away via car. I quickly found out that the nearest bus stop to me is just under a mile away, about 10-15 minutes on foot. After that, it's two separate buses followed by a short walk to the restaurant. Estimated time: 1 hour and 5 minutes. I knew it would take longer, but that was a little surprising.

I start my rides next week, but I'm interested to hear your feedback. Are there any routes I should take or not take? What part of the Houston area are most lacking that I can test out? Any tips on how to make it enjoyable?

All help is appreciated. All aboard!
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke