Do you miss the free trolleys that used to run downtown? A new version of that service is set to debut in the spring.
The Houston Downtown Management District, funded through tax assessments on downtown properties, plans to launch a free bus service called Greenlink to ferry employees and residents along a 2.5 mile route starting in spring.
Metro’s downtown trolley service stopped rolling in 2005, after a 50-cent fare introduced in 2004 caused ridership to plummet. At its peak, Metro’s service had 28 vintage trolley buses, five routes and more than 10,000 daily riders.
In the meantime, the city passed an ordinance requiring cabs to charge a flat $6 within downtown, and pedicab and jitney companies such as Rev Eco-Shuttle have sprouted to meet the demand. “It could impact us but I think it’s good to always have options,” said Erik Ibarra, head of Rev Eco-Shuttle, adding that some if his riders have told him they miss the free trolley.
The district’s route is designed to connect convention-goers and office workers in southwest downtown to more retailers and restaurants such as Macy’s, Houston Pavilions and The Shops at Houston Center, [Bob Eury, executive director of Downtown District] said. “Depending on where you are, it’s a pretty big hike from southwest downtown to a store or restaurant.”
You can see a map of the new service’s route here; for comparison purposes, here’s a map of the downtown tunnel system, which I daresay can get you most of the places the shuttle can. I worked downtown for awhile during the run of the original trolley service. It was cool, but I was generally too impatient to wait for it – unless I saw it coming as I walked by the stop, I just kept walking to wherever it was I was going. I expect that I’m the exception and not the rule, so I figure this service will be popular. As Erik Ibarra said, it’s good to have options.