In spite of numerous delays, METRO's new East End and Southeast METRORail lines — under construction since July 2009 — are set to begin regular service on May 23. A recent media preview provided a first look at the two new systems before they're open to the public next month.
The 6.6-mile Southeast (Purple) line begins in downtown's Theater District and runs into the Third Ward before stopping about a mile southeast of MacGregor Park. The line's UH/TSU station is located on Scott Street — right next to the new TDECU Stadium and only blocks away from TSU's campus — providing students with an convenient way to travel to school, as well as to any destination connected by the METRORail system.
After a rigorous selection process, 22 artists were chosen to illustrate the cultural and artistic diversity of the communities that lie along the rail lines by creating art for each station.
Each station has its own distinct character thanks to Metro's Arts in Transit program. After a rigorous selection process, 22 artists were chosen to illustrate the cultural and artistic diversity of the communities that lie along the rail lines by creating art for each station. Stations on the Southeast line focus on African American heritage and those on the East End line are centered around Mexican American culture, with each platform design based around a specific theme.
The 3.3-mile East End line shares a portion of the track nearest to downtown with the Southeast line and passengers can change lines for both at BBVA Compass Stadium. In addition to traveling from the Theater District to the EaDo/Stadium stop, the East End line continues east down Harrisburg, through the Second Ward, and stops at the Altic Street/Howard Hughes station.
Two additional stations will be added along the final mile of the East End line — including the last stop at the Magnolia Park Transit Center — although they are not set to open until 2017. Construction of a long-delayed overpass on Harrisburg is slated to begin this year, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Alas, our tour did not include any downtown stops because an earlier preview caused a frenzy among eager downtowners who assumed that the rail was up and running and were disappointed to find out the new system was not yet operational — perhaps a good sign of anticipation for the new lines.
The new East End and Southeast lines connect to the existing Main Street (Red) line at Central Station, located near Main along Rusk and Capitol. The Main Street line provides connections to destinations across the Inner Loop, from south of NRG Park to near north Houston, connected by the recently opened northward expansion of the line.
In addition to the opening of the two new Metrorail lines, Metro is moving toward the launch of a new bus network, set to begin in August. A near complete overhaul of existing routes has led to the creation of a new system which officials say will create simpler routes, access to more destinations and shorter wait times between buses.