West University Place residents say METRO’s proposed new bus route on Weslayan will worsen traffic congestion and create hazards for pedestrians there and on nearby neighborhood streets.
The comments were made during a West University Place City Council workshop held June 23 to discuss the new route and other changes proposed in METRO’s System Re-imagining, a process that began more than a year ago to improve bus service city-wide.
The resulting draft five-year service plan would replace an existing network that radiates out from downtown with a grid-like system that provides more frequent routes through key population and employment centers.
METRO is now taking public comment on the draft plan in a series of public meetings and open houses that continue through July. The public input will be used to refine the plan before a final draft is recommended to the METRO board in the fall. Once approved, the new system would be implemented beginning in the summer of 2015.
The proposed No. 48 bus through West U would run about every 30 minutes – faster during peak hours – seven days a week, using Stella Link and Weslayan as a north-south connection between METRO’s West Loop and Northwest transit centers.
The route was chosen in part to serve riders in the Stella Link and Greenway Plaza areas, said Geoff Carleton with Traffic Engineers Inc., a consultant on the proposed new bus network.
Residents say that Weslayan, a two-lane street, already is congested, especially during peak hours. Many homes on side streets have driveways on Weslayan, they said, and pedestrians, including school children, routinely cross it during the mornings and afternoons.
Some suggested Buffalo Speedway or Kirby might be better alternatives.
“This is why we’re having these meetings, to understand how the system would impact you,” Carleton said.
He emphasized that the location and frequency of bus stops has not yet been decided.
Residents’ comments will send planners back to the drawing board to look at alternatives and how they might impact people who use the system, he added.
Two METRO board members who live in the West U and Bellaire area, Burt Ballanfant and Cindy Siegel, also addressed the meeting.
Ballanfant noted that Weslayan previously had a bus route, which was cancelled about 10 years ago.
“We don’t want the past. We want the future,” said one resident.
He and Siegel suggested residents work with neighboring communities to devise an alternative that all might embrace
“The take-away is, we can communicate your input, but you have to convince seven other board members,” Siegel told the group. “We have to balance the concerns with the area as a whole.”
Details about the System Re-imagining draft plan can be found online at www.RideMETRO.org. In addition to the public meetings, input may be submitted on the website, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Project Hotline at 713-739-6026.