Perhaps you were surprised by today's report that Houston Metro's ridership is declining despite the rising cost of fuel? You could have been surprised, but I wasn't. As a matter of fact I'd be surprised if ridership had increased.
It's been a well-discussed top on this and other blogs that Metro is not providing services that get people where they need to go. Instead of focusing on moving people from neighborhood to business center, circulating bus routes and focusing on the people who most need their service, Houston Metro has decided that a very expensive toy train that goes nowhere is the future of transportation. As more and more people decide to move out to the suburbs, Metro has decided to become even more focused inside the Loop. If you build it where the people aren't, the people won't ride on it. That's not opinion, it's a fact. A fact that's been borne out by Metro's own numbers.
Sure, they'll try to spin it any way they can. That's what they do and what they have to do to keep their jobs. At the end of the day, and I would suspect in their deepest thoughts, they realize that not providing adequate bus service to key areas is a long-term recipe for disaster. Their hope is that gas prices get so high that people ultimately are forced to change their lives, drastically.
Fortunately, for Metro, there is a political party in America whose goal is exactly that. Unfortunately for Metro, it appears that the other party, the one that doesn't share these goals, is destined to win again in 2012. Until then we're stuck with seven miles of a glorified amusement park ride masquerading as a transit-backbone, and a group of useful idiots who are riding the system straight off the rails.
Want to ride the bus into work? Or to the Galleria? No luck for you.