Filed under: top-feature, transportation, travel tips
No Car? No Problem!
Houston has a reputation for being a car-addicted city.¬† Part of the issue is sheer size;¬† according to the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau¬†website, the city is 634 square miles, which means you could fit New York City, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis AND Miami inside of it!¬† Growing year after year, Houston’s expansion outpaces the growth of its infrastructure, so it’s in a constant state of “catch up” to accommodate residents and travelers.¬† The good news is that Houston has a great public transit system that makes navigating the city without a car a snap.
In 2004 Houston unveiled a 7.5-mile light rail train that runs from downtown Houston through the Medical Center and south to Reliant Stadium, bisecting Midtown and the Museum District along the way.¬† The rail provides access to some of the city’s most popular attractions along its fifteen stops, and it does so at an incredibly affordable price – one-way local fares are a mere $1.25 per person.¬† An additional 30 miles of rail are planned for an expansion that is due for completion by 2012, which will make traveling “inside the Loop” of I-610 even more convenient.
The rail currently runs north to south between the University of Houston downtown campus and Reliant Park.¬† Among the attractions available along the rail line: Minute Maid Park, Reliant Park, the Toyota Center, the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Houston Visitors Center, the Theater District, Spec‚Äôs Liquor Warehouse, Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo, the entire selection of museums in the city‚Äôs amazing Museum District, Rice University, and countless hotels, bars and restaurants.
METRORail passes can be purchased at each platform using cash, debit¬† or credit.¬† The Metro Transit Authority also offers a convenient¬†Metro Q card¬†that can be pre-loaded from a bank account;¬†simply tap your¬†Metro Q against the sensor on the platform and¬†the¬†fare will be automatically deducted from your Q account.
Click here for downloadable maps, including maps for iPod, of the METRORail system.
METRORail Schedule – Weekdays
- 4:30 AM ‚Äď 7:30 PM: Trains run at 6 minute intervals.
- 7:30 PM ‚Äď 9 PM: Trains run at 12 minute intervals.
- 9 PM ‚Äď 11: 40 PM: Monday-Thursday trains run at 20 minute intervals; Friday & Saturday trains run at 20 minute intervals through 2:20 AM.
METRORail Schedule – Weekends
- 5:30 AM ‚Äď 10 AM: Trains run at 15 minute intervals.
- 10 AM ‚Äď 9 PM: Trains run at 12 minute intervals.
- 9 PM ‚Äď 2:20 AM: Saturday trains run at 20 minute intervals; Sunday trains run 20 minute¬†intervals¬†until 11:40 PM.
Airport Direct: METRORail & Bus Service
If you are¬†planning to stay¬†at a hotel within walking distance to the light rail, it’s possible to enjoy an entire vacation without the expense¬†or hassle of renting a car.¬† Travelers flying into Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)¬†can take advantage of the $15 (each way) Airport Direct service that runs between the airport’s C Terminal and the Airport Direct Passenger Plaza at 815 Pierce (map) which is near the Downtown Transit Center.¬† Many hotels are within walking distance of the METRORail, or you can catch a bus or cab from the DTC¬†to get to your next destination.¬† Call 713.635.4000 for more information, or visit the city‚Äôs Metro website.¬† There are buses running every 30 minutes during operating hours; buses run from downtown to the airport from 5:30 AM ‚Äď 8 PM, and from IAH to the downtown passenger plaza from 6:10 AM ‚Äď 8:40 PM, daily.
More than 1200 buses serve Houston commuters and¬†travelers, and their routes cover an area of over 1200 square miles.¬† Click here for a list of bus routes and schedules.¬† If you are traveling by car into the city you also have the option of utilizing one of Houston‚Äôs 28 Park & Ride facilities.¬† One-way fares are between $2 and $4.50.¬† A complete list of Park & Ride routes and schedules can be found here.
Downtown Houston has taxi stands located in the Central Business District (boundaries are I-45, I-10¬†and US-59) that will take travelers anywhere they wish to go within the designated area¬†for a flat $6 fare.¬† This affordable rate includes multiple passengers, and no surcharges apply ‚Äď although you should feel free to tip your cabbie.¬† You will also see various hailing cab icon signs around the downtown area, where taxis can pick up and drop off riders; these are zones¬†where taxis can stop for brief, three-minute intervals for pickup and drop off.
Photo 1 courtesy Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.¬† Photo 2 courtesy of Mike Cortez, S.S.P. Photography.
A815 Pierce815 Pierce, Houston, TX 77002View Details and Book