If you’re a regular METRO bus customer riding transit throughout Houston, you probably pay a lot of attention to the bus shelters. Very soon, even non-transit riders will notice the shelters in Westchase District. A contemporary, newly designed shelter – both functional and attractive – will soon be coming to Westchase District.
As part of its Walnut Bend reconstruction, Westheimer streetscapes and Elmside/Woodchase Side Path projects, Westchase District is completely re-designing and upgrading the current shelters.
The new shelters are made of aluminum and glass, while the seat blocks will be made of a concrete blend with a glossy finish. The new shelters will be installed at 37 locations on Walnut Bend, Westheimer, Elmside and Woodchase. Another three METRO bus stops will be equipped with the custom-made seat blocks.
The shelters and seat blocks are currently being fabricated under a $1.36 million contract with NEC, Inc. The project is funded by the Westchase District’s 380 Program with the City of Houston in partnership with METRO. “METRO is reimbursing us $289,000 for transit stop improvements,” said Irma Sanchez, vice president of projects. “That amount represents the money that would have been spent by METRO to upgrade these transit stops. It’s a unique partnership and we’re so happy to work with METRO to improve the transit experience in Westchase District.”
The shelters will be equipped with LED lighting and will become the new standard in Westchase District. “They will accommodate existing transit patrons and attract new riders to the system,” added Sanchez.
The new shelters will have special paving, trash cans, seat blocks and upgraded signage. As part of the Westheimer streetscapes project, all transit stops on Westheimer are being re-built with 9-inch curbs. “The higher curbs mean that buses don’t have to ‘kneel,’” said Sanchez. “That means boarding times are quicker and lane stoppages are minimized.”
Westchase District assumes maintenance
Earlier this year, Westchase District assumed all maintenance responsibilities for the 143 transit stops in the area. “METRO has such a large service area,” noted Sanchez. “They simply couldn’t give the kind of detailed attention we expect to all the transit stops in our area. We approached them about taking over this responsibility and they saw the benefit in turning it over to us.”
SMC Logistics won the competitive bidding process and is now handling all maintenance on behalf of Westchase District, including trash disposal, litter pick up around the transit stops and power washing the shelters and the concrete slabs. “Like the bus stop installation project, METRO is reimbursing us for the cost they would have spent on transit stop maintenance,” said Sanchez. “We manage the project and ensure quality control.”
Crews will pick up trash five times a week and power wash the shelter every month, all under the direction of Westchase District’s newest employee, Maintenance Director Kelly Aylesworth.
“Transit is a big part of the commuter experience in Westchase District,” said Aylesworth. “So many people rely on METRO to get to and from work, to see friends or to buy groceries. We want to make that experience as pleasant as possible by giving them a nice, clean, modern place to wait for their bus.”