And for a week, it's free.
The agency's board of directors approved a plan in February that they believe will allow a greater number of people to travel to more destinations with greater convenience.
The agency's new bus network will feature 78 routes, with most providing service seven days a week. Twenty-two of the routes will run at least every 15 minutes for 18 to 20 hours a day, every day.
These 22 new "Red Routes," which connect riders to neighborhoods, jobs, educational institutions, medical care facilities and retail outlets, include:
- Bellaire (2)
- Beechnut (4)
- Richmond (25)
- Long Point / Cavalcade (26)
- Shepherd (27)
- Post Oak (33)
- Telephone / Heights (40) and Kirby / Polk (41)
- Gessner (46)
- Broadway (50)
- Hardy - Kelley (51) and Hardy - Ley (52)
- Scott (54)
- Airline / Montrose (56)
- Fondren (63)
- Bissonnet (65)
- Bellfort (73)
- MLK / Lockwood (80)
- Westheimer (82)
- Antoine / Washington (85)
- Northshore Express (137)
- Harwin Express (152 and 153)
- Memorial City Express (160), Wilcrest Express (161) and Memorial Express (162)
- Bellaire Quickline (402)
The new service also includes 29 new "Blue Routes," which will run every 16 to 30 minutes for at least 18 hours per day. Twenty-seven new "Green Routes," which run every 31 to 60 minutes for at least 14 hours a day, seven days a week. All routes are designed to connect more neighborhoods and other destinations to the network and also connect to transit centers, local buses and the METRORail system.
Although these are significant changes from METRO's existing bus system, officials say that 94 percent of riders will be able to access the service at the same stop they currently utilize, although on some routes buses will travel less frequently. And 99.96 percent existing METRO riders will have local bus service within a half mile.
With the new bus network, METRO will provide local bus service for roughly 6,900 trips on 78 routes on weekdays, and on Saturdays and Sundays, roughly 5,600 trips on 75 routes.
To help riders better understand the changes to the network, METRO developed two new interactive web tools and also offers a Next Bus Arrival Texting service. This video explains how the texting system works:
Google Maps will also update according to the system's changes on Sunday.
As part of the launch, METRO is offering free rides for a week beginning Sunday (August 16) to Saturday (August 22) on bus service and light rail.
Visit METRO's website for a full list of the new lines and schedules.