Looking to overhaul its flagging bus service, SEPTA seems to be seeking inspiration from Houston, which has drawn national attention with its own experiment in drastic bus-network redesign.
Changes two years ago led to more frequent service on key routes, more direct routes, and more weekend service. The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, which oversees bus and light rail services in Houston, has reported improved on-time rates, fewer rider complaints, and a 7 percent rise in ridership with bus and light rail ridership combined.
It began with planners admitting they had to start from scratch.
“It actually took us as an agency being willing to say, ‘We’re not doing the best we can,’” said Christof Spieler, a board member of the transit authority, known as Metro.