in Houston, Texas
Is Houston Metro's 'Airport Direct' shuttle about to be put on blocks?
Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011, 03:28PM CST
By Steve Miller
bus

The Texas Watchdog team has ridden Airport Direct many times now. This Metro bus service that takes passengers from downtown to George Bush Intercontinental Airport has faced some logical skepticism from adroit local media types, but we are now fully on board, so to speak.

The ride is a smooth 45 minutes, few stops, the staff is friendly and it does indeed beat bus route 102's hour-long ramble through the middle of Houston en route the airport.

And just as we began to get it comes word that Airport Direct may be in its final days. A staffer at the Airport Direct outpost at the airport told us last night that the Jan. 23 drop in one-way fare, from $15 to $4.50, has increased monthly revenue slightly, but it will have to do more or the plug will be pulled in June.  Metro CEO George Greanias hinted as much last fall

The price drop was combined with some increased stops at downtown hotels, hopefully appealing to business travelers who want to beat the $50 cab fare. Didn't corporations say they wanted to cut travel expenses?


"We're looking at the numbers coming in and if we get good results from the drop in price and the new stops, it will help," said Metro spokeswoman Margaret O'Brien Molina. "If not, in good faith, the route will have to be looked at."


It makes sense; last night there were two riders on the mammoth bus, and on previous rides the most company we had was three others.

 

And the bus is kept at meat-locker temperatures, surely cutting fuel mileage and keep carbon emissions prolific.


It’s a terrific quality of life project for Houstonians, and travelers appreciate it as well. But it all comes back to what a state lawmaker told this reporter in the late 90s, talking about the defunct Texas Triangle, a light rail between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio that was quickly scrapped: 'How are you going to get Texans out of their cars?"

 

***

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of 'Bus in HOV Lane' by flickr user Houston TranStar, used via a Creative Commons license.

Comments
gonzalo camacho
Wednesday, 02/23/2011 - 06:11PM

steve,

it is not about taking people out of their cars but providing a transportation alternative that people can use, one that is afford, convenient, and dependable.

i have taken the regular metro bus routes from the airports do downtown. long and perhaps too many stops but for $1 it was a bargain. that was until the routing was change and we stopped using it because it was not convenient any more.

the westheimer express was also a great route to take (if the person lived and worked along the corridor).

by the way, texas watchdog is one of the best public media in texas. keep up with the investigative reports and keeping the public informed properly and texas watchdog will be a huge success.

Martin Lopez
Wednesday, 08/03/2011 - 11:14PM

Emergency: the bus driver on a recent Airport Direct bus said they're gonna cancel the service in September if people don't start contacting Metro to tell them not to. They've already closed down the airport kiosk and have moved the airport stop from the curb-lane to the center lane (where view of the airport direct is obscured by the huge new rental car buses).

If you like the service, get on the horn to Metro asap.

Keith
Friday, 11/04/2011 - 11:08AM

I, for one, was sad to see the service disappear. Aside from the fact that the downtown stop was in an obscure, difficult-to-find location that offered an uncomfortable walk to the nearest rail stop, the service was good. It was probably over-priced, for a public transport route that lacked any connections to any point beyond the empty downtown parking lot (compare Melbourne, Australia's comparably-priced bus route that has a fleet of mini-buses at a downtown station designed to carry people to nearby hotels). Like so much of what Metro does, the Airport Direct service lacked that final touch of planning.

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