Apr 3, 2023 - News

Houston Metro's University Line gets $150M

shot of a bus rapid transit lane with the words "BUS ONLY" painted on the street

Photo: Courtesy of Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County

Houston's next dedicated bus lane that would cut through the city recently received a major boost in federal funding.

Driving the news: The White House on Friday confirmed a $150 million grant for the Metropolitan Transit Authority's METRORapid University Corridor Project, a $1.6 billion line that will run from the southwest side to northeast of downtown.

Why it matters: The 25-mile corridor, when completed by 2028, will be one of the longest bus rapid transit lines in the country.

  • Dedicated bus lanes, like Metro's five-mile Silver Line through Uptown, give buses special right-of-way on city streets, allowing for faster rides and more predictable schedules.
  • When finished, the University Line and Silver Line will intersect at the Westpark Transit Center. The University Line will also connect with the red, purple and green light rail lines.

Flashback: The project was approved by voters in 2019 as part of the METRONext Moving Forward Plan, a $3.5 billion bond to enhance the overall system with upgraded stops, new and improved transit centers, and new routes.

Details: The Federal Transit Administration has pledged to pay for 60% of the cost through grants, according to Houston Public Media.

  • The other 40% will come through local bond funding already approved by voters.
  • Planning, environmental studies and 30% of the design are expected to be complete by the end of this year.
Map of the proposed METRORapid University Corridor bus rapid transit line
Map: Courtesy of Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County

The route will run from the Westchase Transit Center east through Gulfton, Westpark and Montrose, before turning north in Third Ward along Lockwood Drive to the Tidwell Transit Center.

  • The bus lane will connect the University of St. Thomas, Houston Community College, the University of Houston, and Texas Southern University.

Meanwhile, the Metro board last month delayed a vote approving part of the design of the project after residents in the East End complained about an overpass that would divide their neighborhood.

  • "The neighborhood fabric is being sacrificed for this overpass," Laura Vargas said to a Metro committee last week, per the Houston Chronicle.

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