The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County hosted a public forum July 13 on its plans to expand METRORapid lines along the University Corridor, impacting the Alief, Third Ward and Gulfton neighborhoods.

The proposed METRORapid University Corridor project is a bus rapid transit line projected to run 25.3 miles from the Westchase Park & Ride near the intersection of Westpark and Sam Houston tollways to the Tidwell Transit Center near the intersection of Tidwell Road and Hwy. 59. The buses will move through traffic in a dedicated, transit-only lane.

During public meetings taking place throughout July, the public can view display boards and videos providing renderings of proposed segments, project timelines, environmental impacts and community benefits. The opportunity to provide comments and ask questions of METRO staff is also available. While the project itself was approved by voters in 2019, METRO is still seeking input regarding route alignments.

"The purpose of these community meetings is to give everyone an even better understanding of the goals of this project; the proposed route alignment; and how this service will connect communities and provide improved access to job centers, health care, education and other major destinations," METRO Public Information Officer Monica Russo said in an emailed statement. "We also want feedback because we recognize that delivering a successful transit project requires robust engagement with the community."

The line is a piece of METRONext, a $7 billion plan set to be executed over the next 20 years that is covered by a mix of federal funding and a $3.5 billion bond referendum approved in 2019 by nearly 70% of area voters. A cost for the project has not yet been determined, METRO officials said.

The line will operate mostly in METRO-owned right of way in Segment 1—running from the Westchase Park & Ride to the Westpark/Lower Uptown Transit Center; however, it will operate on city of Houston streets throughout Segments 2-5, which run to the Tidwell Transfer Center. Connections will be available to the METRORail Red, Green and Purple lines; METRORapid Silver Line; five transit centers; three park and rides; and 14 high-frequency local bus routes.

All segments of the University Corridor designs include sidewalk improvements to improve quality of life, as riders will need to cross traffic on foot to access some of the bus platforms located in the median.

The METRORapid stations and platforms will resemble METRORail’s, according to information provided by METRO at the July 13 public forum. The agency anticipates using electric buses but will continue to monitor developing technology as the project progresses, per agency staff. Construction on the line is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2025 with completion estimated for 2028.

The agency continues to be open for public input with public meetings held in person and virtually through July 25.