A new public bus service for the bustling Gulfton community is music to the ears of Elgin Johnson, who has long struggled to make it to work or to the grocery store without a car.
“It’s been long overdue,” Johnson said of Metro’s new transit connector, whose route includes part of the Southwest Management District along the Hillcroft corridor. “It’s just been so busy out here with the traffic and we’ve been needing it. It was hard for us to get back and forth from work, to go to the store or just to move around.”
But that was then. Today, all Johnson has to do is hop on No. 309 on the circulator to get around the Gulfton community outside Loop 610 near Bellaire Boulevard to access major Metro routes or the amenities and social service agencies that dot the area.
With the new route that began last summer, riders can easily connect to major transfer points such as the Bellaire Transit Center, Westpark Lower Uptown Transit Center and the Hillcroft Park and Ride lot.
Unlike traditional bus routes that traverse the city, circulator buses typically operate in a tight circle around a neighborhood to provide local access for residents who depend on public transportation.
As the Gulfton Super Neighborhood Council points out, the circulator serves an area that includes two clusters of single-family home and sprawling apartment complexes that dominate the landscape along with scattered commercial and light industrial businesses.
Most of Gulfton was originally developed as a rural subdivision called Westmoreland Farms. The ample parcels and widely spaced grid pattern of roads made it possible for large apartment complexes to be built in the area starting in the 1960s, according to the Council. The community is now home to many recent immigrants from Latin America and other parts of the world.
“Gulfton is one of the most densely populated parts of the Houston region and is part of Mayor (Sylvester) Turner’s Complete Communities Initiative,” said Metro Board Member Sanjay Ramabhadran. The new connector service “is a fantastic addition to help folks get around within Gulfton and also connect to our frequent routes from Hillcroft and Bellaire and the broader network.”
The mayor’s initiative is a collaboration involving residents, community stakeholders and City of Houston departments to bring about innovative community projects to improve access to services for residents in neighborhoods that have been underserved.
Sandra Rodriguez, president of Gulfton Super Neighborhood Council 27, said the new route will enhance “the beauty and uniqueness of our neighborhood that reflects Houston.”
“We want to create a welcoming neighborhood for our community members, especially for newcomers who are fleeing countries where there’s a war, violence and poverty and they’re dealing with trauma,” she said. “I’m extremely excited to have this Gulfton Circulator finally become a reality.”
Click here for more details about the circulator.