Thanks to a partnership between the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston METRO) and the city of Houston, a fresh new look is coming to existing downtown transit-only lanes in the central business district.
New markings, striping and signage will update dedicated bus and carpool lanes along Milam and Travis. The high-visibility overlay will be applied to existing diamond lanes on both streets to distinguish them from regular traffic lanes and clarify they are reserved for bus and carpool use only.
The project is an opportunity to refresh and update the lanes using an industry best practice of red striping and markings to provide visual instruction to users. According to the Federal Transit Administration, red lanes improve traffic flow by having designated lanes for public transit vehicles. Dedicated transit lanes can also improve safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians – making streets more equitable for all.
"We see this very much as a safety project," said Houston METRO Chief Innovation Officer Kimberly Williams. "It creates structure among all users downtown."
The project is divided into three phases. Four blocks of the existing diamond lane on Travis, between Pierce and Leeland, will be treated with the red markings and signage during the first phase. Phase two will cover the remaining 14 blocks to Congress. The last stage will apply similar treatment to the entire stretch of Milam between Pierce and Congress. Completion of the project is expected in the spring of 2022.
Since 2005, certain lanes in downtown Houston have been marked with a diamond symbol. These “diamond lanes” are for transit use only. Houston METRO will be converting them to “Red Lanes” – painted and striped in red – with new signage and pavement markings that clearly designate these as bus-only or carpool-only lanes.