METRO System Reimagining

September 2014   Houston, TX


  • Harris County Metropolitan Transit Authority
  • Traffic Engineers, Inc.


  • Nancy Edmonson Consulting
  • Jerit Walker
Key Points

The expansion of Houston’s light rail system presents an opportune time to reimagine the bus system in a way that will be easier to use and attract more riders.

Transit network redesign

Asakura Robinson joined Traffic Engineers, Inc (TEI) to maximize ridership and quality of transit service in Harris County. The firm helped to evaluate the desires of people who live and work in the METRO service area, and develop a new network that better serves the population.

Community Engagement

Asakura Robinson coordinated engagement activities that received feedback from residents, stakeholders, and local developers. One of the activities included a game where people took a map of city cut into small squares with pieces that represented bus systems. Participants designed a system around various scenarios and constraints, including population size, income, and transit costs.


In order to ensure that transit users understand the changes and how to use the system as it is reimagined, the team guided public input about the new network and created a new, user-friendly map of the METRO system and educational materials to assist transit users. METRO secured funding in their budget and was able to implement changes all at once.

In 2014, The City of Houston wanted to reimagine and update their transit system to more effectively meet the needs of its residents. The City was interested in redesigning a system that was easy to use, yet attractive and connected residents working in different parts of the city to prime locations. The underlying philosophy of the METRO Transit System Reimagining project is to maximize ridership and quality of service in targeted areas by analyzing frequency of service. Asakura Robinson joined TEI and other consulting firms to evaluate the desires of people who live and work in the METRO service area, and develop a new network that better serves the population. Asakura Robinson was able to start from scratch with the project. The firm’s role on the project ranged from redesigning the way transit maps look, to develop a guide for developers to use to ensure appropriate development patterns are pursued along frequent transit lines. The guide draws from a wide range of national best practices, in-depth interviews with local developers and features a Market and Development Density Index, which identifies areas of high development potential where bus service can add value to the new location and potentially stimulate new development. The firm structured the guide to mirror the decisionmaking process of a development project, beginning with an overview of general TOD concepts and national precedents, a discussion of how the new transit network complements Houston’s development climate, and guidelines for site selection, planning and design.

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