Do That / It's Culture

10 Things to Know About Riding the Metro Bus

If you’re a Houston native you probably looked at the title of the post, chuckled to yourself, and then thought lolz NEVER in your wildest dreams. This is Houston, not New York. Everyone has a car and no one rides the bus. Gross! What a ridiculous thought!

FullSizeRender (48)And I hear you my friends. I was once like you. But I’m here to change your mind, or at least give you some insight into Houston’s public transportation system. I grew up in Houston and throughout my entire formative years, I *think* I rode the bus once. ONCE! And I think it was a Park & Ride for the Rodeo, so like not even a real bus, because like most people in Houston I didn’t really even comprehend that we had a bus system. Or if we did it wasn’t good or it was gross or whatever.

But since I’ve started working in downtown Houston, I’ve come to love and appreciate the Metro bus system. It’s more accessible, efficient, and safer than you may think! Here’s what I’ve learned since I’ve started riding the Metro:

  1. Everyone is doing it. Or well everyone working in downtown Houston is. I guess driving for 1.5 hours in rush hour and paying $200+/month for parking isn’t desirable for most people. Granted most of them use the Park and Ride system, so a car is involved at some point in their commute, but still there is lots of solidarity in riding the bus in the working world.
  2. It’s cheap. To ride the bus one way (including transfers) costs $1.25. Even the cheapest parking lots in downtown are minimum $6/day (trust me I’ve looked for cheaper) and that doesn’t take into account the gas and wear and tear on your car and loss of sanity as you fight traffic. #worthit
  3. You can get text updates. Every bus stop has a number, and if you text that number to the Metro text-line, you can find out when the next buses for that stop are coming. Very technologically advanced. I’ve seen similar things in San Francisco, Miami, and Santiago, Chile. Proud of you Houston.
  4. During peak times there are lots of buses and not a lot of crazies. During off peak times, there are less buses and more crazies. We are the fourth largest city in the US. There’s guaranteed to be a few randos, but during my morning and evening commute there are plenty of professionals for the local buses.
  5. There are local buses and Park & Ride buses. One is nicer than the other. I bet you can guess which. Park & Rides take riders further distances, more directly to places outside the city like Katy, the Woodlands, or Sugarland. But, as a veteran rider of the local buses I really have no complaints.
  6. You can get a Q card mailed to you.  If you don’t want to pay in cash, you can load up a “Q card” and badge on the bus smoothly. After 50 rides, you get 5 free! You can pick up a Q card at Kroger, or you can get it mailed to you by filling out this form. #easy
  7. The Metro customer service is bomb. I had an issue with adding money to my card and I submitted the complaint online and thought–like most complaints it was just sent into a black hole ether and I would never see my $10 again. But no! A few hours later I got an email and the rep was monitoring my account and  we exchanged a few emails over a course of hours. Top notch customer service. Big fan. And I got $10 added to my account. #winning
  8. The routes were all updated. Metro did a big reboot over the summer and launched a bunch of new routes in August for the first time in 30+ years to reflect the new demographics and neighborhoods of Houston. There’s been some complaints (see Houston Press article written by my badass reporter roommate) but for me I’ve only seen positive changes as my loyal Route 85 passes by more frequently. Plan your route here.
  9. GreenLink is actually free. GreenLink is a bus route that runs around downtown and is 100% free. It only runs during the day and is full of business professionals getting lunch, going to meetings, and running midday errands. This was my gateway drug to the Houston transportation system. The bus runs about every 10 minutes during the day and is an excellent way to navigate downtown. Check out the GreenLink route.
  10. It’s relaxing. I read. I check my email. I day dream and slowly wake up for the day. I’ve even made a few friends who ride the bus at the same time as me and have gotten to know the bus drivers (I have my favorites). I’m also a huge extrovert who loves being around people and the buses are always full of energy and great for people watching.
Metro Bus Houston

Proof I ride the bus!

I’ve been riding the bus during peak times for the past 2 months. The bus is occasionally delayed, but I’ve never felt unsafe or worried. I’m a convert, a big fan and now an advocate of the Houston Metro bus system! Boost your karma, reduce your carbon footprint and try riding a Metro bus today!

Have you ever ridden the bus? What was your experience?

21 thoughts on “10 Things to Know About Riding the Metro Bus

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on our #NewBusNetwork and we appreciate it! We love that the “GreenLink was [your] gateway drug to the Houston transportation system.” lol

  2. I used to love riding the bus – LOVE! It was a great alternative for my walk to work in the Summer heat, the Winter chill, and plenty lazy days. Unfortunately, with the route changes I have been left bus-less… 🙁

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  4. I used to have two bus routes within two to three blocks of my home, that would get me into downtown in 22 mins. Now I have to walk a half a mile to get there in 30 minutes or take two buses. I live 2.7 miles from downtown. Wow!

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  6. I live in clear lake. The forgotten suburb. I love the bus and think it is a great way to get around, but it is not of use to people in Clear Lake unless you work in down town. I wish we could get rail lines put back in and then bus lines around the city. I drive 35 miles each way to work and take HOV, but with the HOT added it is much slower. I note that about 1 in 4 drivers at 6:15 are HOT not HOV and it slows traffic to about 45-40mph. Better than the main lanes, but not much. In the evenings it is a joke to even think of taking 59 to downtown to get on the HOV back south. Too much traffic on 59 and 610, so off to the beltway we go. So many people in this city and so few use carpooling and public transportation.

  7. Thank you for this information about metro bus transportation. It sounds like a good way to travel because it is efficient and cost effective. Another thing to consider would be meeting new people each day. This would be a great method for finding new friends.

  8. Thanks so much for this helpful post! Do you know how long it takes to receive the Q Card after filling out the online request form?

  9. I’ve learned that bus riders have there own lingo. An example is “do you know where I can catch that 88? ” Lol. Bus riding will teach you patience and it is good for the environment.

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  11. Thank you so much for this! I have just moved to Sugar Land with a job in downtown Houston and i was wondering how to avoid driving my car to work? How can i get from my neighborhood to a bus stop without having to drive?

  12. Curious soon-to-be Houstonian here from New York. Any new insights on the bus riding experiences since this post?

    • I have some friends who’ve moved downtown and walk to work! The only main inconvenience is not having a grocery store near by so that’s the main reason they use public transportation or Uber for errands here and there

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