METRO loves big buses: More massive accordion buses are taking over Houston's streets
After several years of overcrowded bus routes, METRO is bringing back long buses to Houston's streets. (KUHF's Gail Delaughter first reported the news.)
At a midyear budget briefing session on Monday, Kurt Luhrsen, interim senior vice president of METRO's service design and development department, told the board that 70 recently-purchased 60-foot articulated buses will help improve ridership numbers while reducing overcrowding on the city's busiest lines.
METRO retired a number of those articulated accordion buses from its fleet several years ago and replaced them with standard 40-foot buses — and the transit agency has noticed a decrease in ridership along busy routes.
Lurhsen says that the rider experience "should be vastly improved" when the long buses are reintroduced beginning in August. The articulated Nova Bus models will have room for up to 112 passengers each, as well as double bike racks.
A METRO representative tells CultureMap that the first route receiving the new buses will be the 163 Fondren, followed by the 02 Bellaire and the 65 Bissonnet. Other high-ridership routes include the 04 Beechnut and the 68 Brays Bayou.
Although anyone who has ridden on or driven next to one of the shorter buses might be reasonably concerned about those big vehicles on narrow roads, METRO senior vice president of service delivery Andy Skabowski assured the board that the articulated buses actually have a "better turn radius than a standard 40-footer."