Houston's METRORail is ready for some football

Officials expect visitors attending Super Bowl LI to pack the Texas city's light-rail network
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A Houston METRORail train in downtown Houston in this undated photo.
Houston METRO
HOUSTON — Houston’s METRORail has a playbook to make its trains an important part of Super Bowl LI (51) events taking place over the weekend.

The Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau tells Trains that about 138,000 people will travel into Houston to watch or staff the game. Since the METRORail’s Red Line has several stations within walking distance of NRG stadium, NFL Experience, and Game City Showcase, officials expect a significant number of those visitors will use the Houston METRO’s light rail trains to travel to game-related events.

To keep people moving efficiently, METRORail plans to run extra trains so that Red Line trains will depart approximately every six minutes. If needed, the agency can add extra equipment and run trains with as little as four minutes between departures. Trains on the Purple and Green Lines, the agency’s two other light rail routes that transfer to the Red Line, will run extended hours over the weekend and will remain in service at least until midnight.

“The goal is to keep the trains running about two hours after events end,” says Jerome Gray, METRORail vice president and senior communications director. “It’s important to make sure that the train schedules compliment the timing of game-related events. We don’t want anyone left behind.”

Gray says that METRORail already has experience moving large crowds visiting the city for sporting events: the agency logged 250,000 extra boardings when Houston hosted the NCAA Final Four last year, significantly more than the 60,000 average boardings typically recorded on weekdays.

METRORail officials expect that the Superbowl will bring even larger crowds than the basketball championships. Since many of those riders will be out-of-towners, Gray said that METRO employees have volunteered 800 work shifts to act as ambassadors and hand out maps and venue advice to people unfamiliar with Houston.

On game day, METRO will also operate additional shuttle busses to provide passengers last-mile service between parking lots, train stations, and the stadium.
METRORail began light rail operations in 2004. After Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the 23.8-mile light rail system is the second largest in the state of Texas.

More information is available online.

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