METRO looking at ways to improve service in Katy

By George Slaughter, News Editor
Posted 6/23/22

METRO President and CEO Tom Lambert said his agency has worked on several things to improve transportation in the Katy area, but admitted some things still needed to be worked on, in a Tuesday address at the Katy Area Economic Development Council.

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METRO looking at ways to improve service in Katy

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METRO President and CEO Tom Lambert said his agency has worked on several things to improve transportation in the Katy area, but admitted some things still needed to be worked on, in a Tuesday address at the Katy Area Economic Development Council.

The council held its meeting at the Embassy Suites, 16435 Katy Fwy.

Lambert said METRO built the Park and Ride centers at the northeast corner of the State Highway 99 meets I-10 intersection, and it also redid its northwest transit center, at the junction of I-10 West and Loop 610. Many Katy-area residents use that station, he said.

Presently, he said, METRO is working with the Texas Department of Transportation on what is called a REAL (for regional express access lanes) concept. Under this concept, hub centers would be built around the Houston area. Each center would have access to different modes of transportation. Commuters could choose their best transportation options.

The need to plan for future transportation needs becomes more acute as the state’s population grows. Lambert said he spoke with the state demographer last week. Lambert said the demographer told hm that Texas expects to be home to about 47 million people by 2050, with about 87% of that population growth coming east of I-35.

“We’re here to move people,” Lambert said. “This area is very important.”

Lambert shard a story about a company near Waller that needed to get people to its job site, but the company was far out in the region METRO serves. Company officials worked with METRO to use the already-existing West Little York Park and Ride station, 15010 Hempstead Road, to transport employees to the job site. Lambert called it a creative partnership.

“We have to get out of the box a bit,” Lambert said. “We have to look at the world differently. There’s no one way to meet a community’s need.”

The rising price of gasoline, and the emergency of alternate fuels, are other issues that METRO is considering when it comes to powering its buses. Lambert said METRO has passed a climate action plan and is looking towards low-emission vehicles. Towards that end, METRO has 20 electric buses on order, expected to arrive in November.

Lambert described the use of electric buses as very interesting and said that the METRO maintenance staff views it as an exciting opportunity. However, he said METRO has not committed to an all-electric fleet of vehicles. He said METRO looks forward to more maturing of other alternate fuels, and how they are used, over the next couple of years.

“We want a robust infrastructure that if we have a hurricane that shuts down the grid, we can still operate,” Lambert said.

Lambert’s comments were part of a question-and-answer session following a presentation in which he gave an overview of METRO projects. Among the more important ones to Katy is the METRORapid Inner Katy Project.

The project, he said, creates a frequent East-West transit spine that begins and ends at the Northwest Park and Ride station, but runs through downtown Houston. He said it maximizes the use of existing infrastructure.

Lambert joined METRO in 1979, the agency’s first year in operation, as a security investigator. He worked his way up the ranks and became president/CEO in 2014.

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