Last week, Metro rolled out its new bus system, offering free rides to the skeptical public.
While we are awaiting the official post-mortem on the success or otherwise of the free-riding operation, here are the Innerloop Pedestrian's two cents in appreciation of the fare savings for a day of joy-riding in the interim:
The switch was ill-timed for enticing first-time riders
Metro couldn't have picked a worse time to transition to the new system and offer the public free rides for a week. In mid-August it's simply too hot (and often too humid) in Houston.
|Metro passing Power and Drama|
|The rides on the trains were gratis too. Here a unit|
at the end-of-line at Northline Mall
|The Majestic Metro Experience, but|
not on the Bus
The promise of real-time pothole tracking
No matter how well optimized the system may be for efficiency and increases in ridership, there is nothing Metro can do about the potholes and similar road conditions, short of routing its lines to avoid the worst sections. But why couldn't Metro's onboard communications system be used to collect pothole location and severity data systematically on a continuous basis, so that it can be forwarded to the city for optimizing crew dispatching and workflow planning and scheduling, i.e. to improve the triage system for allocating road repair resources to the spots that most urgently need it. It would be in Metro's best interest to cooperate as its will save vehicle maintenance costs in the long run if street surfaces are improved.
An on-board motion-detection device could simply be hooked up to the existing system and it wouldn't have to be a sensitive as earth-quake monitoring stations. Systematic location-based bone-rattling data could even be collected by a passenger with a GPS-enabled cell phone or similar device. So, this shouldn't pose much of a technical challenge; nor should it be cost-prohibitive.
Google is reported to be working on a GPS-based pothole tracking system to integrate into its route-optimizing app, albeit for motorists. A metropolitan bus system does not have much flexibility to dynamically alter routes in response to fluid road and traffic conditions, but the pothole data on the fixed routes could nevertheless be put to good use to procure pothole relief more quickly, benefiting Metro as well as the general public, no matter which mode of transportation it uses.
MORE HOUSTON METRO PICS
|Metro Headquarters on the Southern edge of Downtown on the Red Line|
|Briar Forest Metro Bus at CITGO Headquarters in the Energy Corridor|
|Park and Ride Express Bus to and from the suburbs|
|Metro on Memorial Drive near Eldridge Pkwy, |
a line that was affected by the system revamp