The future of a 24-hour bike share program that was originally scheduled to roll out this summer as part of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County remains uncertain.

Community Impact reached out to METRO officials in May to get a status update, but as of press time, a response from the new executive board has yet to be seen.

How we got here

The contract that would have jumpstarted a $5.5 million strategic bike share program using existing METRO transit hubs was unanimously approved for funding by the previous board contract last September.

As Houston Mayor John Whitmire began his term in January, newly appointed members of the board also began governing the organization. As a nine-person board, five positions get nominated by the mayor, while the other two appointees get nominated by the Harris County Commissioners, and the remaining two appointees receive their nominations from the mayors from 14 other cities in the METRO service area.

The first Hispanic woman, Elizabeth Gonzalez Brock, became the new METRO board chair, effectively replacing Sanjay Ramabhadran, whose term as chair expired.

METRO was slated to work with PBSC Urban Solutions, a Canadian bike share equipment vendor that has operated in other major cities, including New York, Boston and Chicago, according to its website.

What else

Joe Cutrufo from Bike Houston explained the benefits of an integrated public transportation system.

"Bike share can expand the footprint of public transit, creating better first- and last-mile connections for people whose origins and destinations are beyond walking distance to bus and rail routes," Cutrufo said in an email.

On the other hand

As previously reported in Community Impact, METRO officials acknowledged that even though there has been a decrease in ridership since before the COVID-19 pandemic, they remain optimistic because, in February, weekly ridership reached 86% of prepandemic numbers.

METRO's Public Information Officer Monica Russo said in an email this decline is due to the rise in remote work culture since the pandemic, which she said poses significant challenges to public transportation organizations nationally.