HOUSTON TRANSIT ROUTES

CONCISE HISTORY

Houston has grown in an uncontrolled way into one of America's largest cities. And it has been a challenge for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to develop a bus system to efficiently serve the area. MTA had inherited what was basically a hub and spoke system, focusing on downtown Houston. But without zoning laws in Houston, business growth evolved to become geographically very scattered. And it became necessary for the bus system to evolve into more of a grid system, with crosstown routes. An extensive route restructuring effective 8/16/2015 resulted in further transformation into a grid system.

In 1868, the Houston City Railroad began operating mule cars in Houston, on McKinney Ave. But that company ceased operations in 1870. In 1874, the Houston City Street Railway began operating mule cars on Travis St. In 1883, the Bayou City Street Railway began operating on Texas Ave., but later that year that company was merged into the Houston City Street Railway. In 1889, a new Bayou City Street Railway began operating mule cars. And in 1890, that company was merged into the Houston City Street Railway.

In 1891, the first electric streetcars operated in Houston, and the conversion was completed in 1892. In 1896, the Houston City Street Railway was sold to the Houston Electric Railway. And in 1901 was renamed the Houston Electric Co.

In 1914, jitneys began operating in Houston. Jitneys were banned in 1924, when Houston Electric was allowed to introduce its first bus route on Austin St. In 1927, the Bellaire route became the first streetcar route to be converted to buses. And in 1940, the last streetcar routes were converted to buses.

In 1946, the Houston Electric Co. was renamed the Houston Transit Co. In 1951, Stone & Webster sold the Houston Transit Co. to independent ownership. And in 1961, the Houston Transit Co. was sold and renamed Rapid Transit Lines. In 1966, Rapid Transit Lines became a subsidiary of National City Lines. In 1974 the city acquired Rapid Transit Lines, with the system known as HouTran. And in 1979, HouTran was taken over by the newly formed MTA.

Much of Houston's growth and development occurred after buses became accepted as the form of public transportation introduced to newly developing areas. As a result, only a small part of Houston is actually an older urban area, with a history of streetcars.

After World War II, few new local bus routes were created in Houston. Although existing routes were extended into the new growing areas. Effective 1/31/82, the Metropolitan Transit Authority began the first major expansion of local routes since World War II. Routes were simplified, with different branches of many routes assigned completely new numbers. And the addition of crosstown routes began.

Route changes and expansions were made over the following years. And effective 8/16/2015, extensive route changes were made with the completion of light rail extensions, with more feeder routes and crosstown routes.

For most bus routes, dates when the routes were introduced are not available. Former bus route numbers are indicated for selected years in four separate columns. The existence of a route number in that column indicates if that route existed during that era. The 2015 column reflects route numbers for much of the route number history as MTA, prior to the extensive route restructuring effective 8/16/2015.

Over the years, many routes were renamed to better reflect the more important outlying streets used, instead of some of the closer in streets where for example streetcars were originally introduced.

Service on Crosstimbers existed in 1969 as route 49, but did not exist in during the early 1980's.

The actual name of the 1947 route 57, and the former name of the educational institution served, was Houston Negro College. Reflecting an era of segregation and greater political incorrectness.

Bus routes with an introduction date listed as "MTA" were introduced in 1984 or later, exact years unavailable. Only local routes are listed. Not listed are express, park and ride, and certain newer routes numbered above 100 unless they evolved from routes with one or two digit numbers.

Discontinued routes which cannot be related to an existing route, are listed at the beginning.



Route   Route Name                  Streetcar   Buses       Former Route Numbers
Number  (Segment/Former Name)       Or New Bus  Introduced  1947  1969  1981  1984  2015

    Chenevert  (disc.)              Streetcar     1937       1
    Harbor  (disc.)                 New Bus                 12
    Milby  (disc.)                  New Bus       1930's    63
    Webster  (disc.)                New Bus       10/ 5/24
    Textile  (disc.)                New Bus        1/  /25
    Southampton  (disc.)            New Bus       12/  /25
    Plaza Warwick  (disc.)          New Bus        8/  /26
    Temple Terrace  (disc.)         New Bus        4/  /28
    Leeland  (disc.)                Streetcar     10/31/36   3    35    35    35
  2 Bellaire                        Streetcar      9/26/27  66    66    66     2     2
  3 Langley                         Pioneer  4                    10    10     3     3
    (Kashmere)                      Pioneer  1                    10    10     5     5
    (Settegast)                     Pioneer 14                    80    80    80     5
  4 Beechnut                        New Bus                       88    88     4     4
  5 Southmore (Riverside)           New Bus        1/  /26  75    77    77    77     5
    (Lockwood-Scott)  (disc.)       New Bus       1930's    14
  6 Jensen-Greens                   Streetcar     1939      10    10    10     6     6
    (Humble)                        Pioneer  5                    10    10     6     6
  7 West Airport                    New Bus       MTA                              163
  8 West Belfort                    New Bus       MTA                                8
  9 Gulfton                         New Bus                             64    64     9
  9 Holman (Dowling)                Streetcar     11/19/36  41    80    80    80    80
 10 Willowbend                      New Bus                             10     8    10
 11 Almeda                          New Bus                 84    22    22    22    11
    (Austin)  (disc.)               New Bus        4/ 1/24  61    22    22
 11 Lyons                           Streetcar      9/ 6/31   8    80    80    80    80
 14 Hiram Clarke                    New Bus                       14    14    14    14
    (South Main)                    Streetcar     1939      10    10    10     8     8
    (Watson)  (disc.)               Streetcar     12/  /39  29    44    44    89
    Fulton  (disc.)                 New Bus                 12    15    15    15
 20 Canal                           New Bus       1930's    27    20    20    20    20
    (Port Houston)                  Streetcar     1936      27    20    20    20    20
 20 Memorial                        New Bus                       17    17    17     6
 23 Clay-West 43rd St.              New Bus       MTA                               50
    Northline (Woodland)  (disc.)   Streetcar     10/31/36  24    25    25    25    24
 25 Richmond                        New Bus       1930's          15    25    25    25
 26 Long Point                      Pioneer 12                    48    48    48    20
 26 Cavalcade                       New Bus       MTA                               26
    Outer Loop Crosstown  (disc.)   New Bus       1930's    68    26    26    26    26
    Inner Loop Crosstown  (disc.)   New Bus                 68    26    26    26    27
 27 Shepherd                        New Bus                 56    26    26    26    26
 28 OST-Wayside                     New Bus                 35    26    26    26    26
 29 Cullen (Calhoun)                Streetcar      6/ 9/40  21    30    30    30    30
    (Houston University)            New Bus                  9    30    30    30    30
    (Foster Place)                  New Bus       1930's    78    30    30    30    30
 29 Hirsch                          New Bus       MTA                               29
    (Crosstimbers)                  New Bus       MTA             49                23
 30 Clinton                         New Bus       1930's     4    30    30    30    30
 30 Ella (Pecore)                   New Bus       1926       3    40    40    40    40
    (Woodland Heights)              Streetcar     1937       3    40    40    40    40
 32 Renwick-San Felipe              New Bus       MTA                               32
    (West Gray)                     New Bus       11/ 8/25  62    25    15    15     3
    (River Oaks)                    New Bus       11/ 8/25  72    25    15    15     3
 33 Post Oak                        New Bus       1984                        33    33
    Fairview (Mandell)  (disc.)     Streetcar      5/25/40  51    20    35    35
    (Welch)                         New Bus       1926      81    20    35    35    35
 36 Kempwood (Washington)           Streetcar     1930      47    48    48    24    36
    (Cottage Grove)                 New Bus       1926      48    48    48    24    36
    (Kansas)                        New Bus                 52    48    48    24    36
    El Sol Crosstown  (disc.)       New Bus       MTA                               37
 38 Manchester                      New Bus       MTA                               38
 38 Lawndale                        New Bus       1930's    82    82    82    82    36
    Parker  (disc./was 39)          New Bus       MTA
 39 Katy Freeway                    New Bus       MTA
 40 Telephone (Park Place)          Streetcar      6/ 9/40  31    40    40    40    40
    (Kensington)                    New Bus                 32    40    40    40    40
    (Winkler)                       New Bus                 33    40    40    40    40
    (East End)                      New Bus        9/14/24  62    40    40    40    40
 40 Heights                         Streetcar      4/27/40  50    50    50    50    50
    (Heights Shuttle)               Streetcar     1928      44    50    50    50    50
    (West Heights)                  New Bus       1930's    45    50    50    50    50
    (North Shepherd)                New Bus                 46    50    50    50    50
 41 Kirby-Polk                      New Bus       1983                        53    18
    (West Dallas) (Taft)            New Bus                 80    75    75    75    18
    (San Felipe)  (disc.)           Streetcar     11/19/36  41
    (Exposition)  (disc.)           New Bus       1930's    63
 44 Acres Homes (Studewood)         Acres Homes                   44    44    44    44
    (North Main)                    Acres Homes                   44    44    44     9
 45 Tidwell                         New Bus       MTA                               45
 46 Gessner                         New Bus       1983                        46    46
 47 Hillcroft                       New Bus       MTA                               47
 48 Market (Nance)                  Streetcar     12/  /39  11    11    11    11    11
    (Denver)                        New Bus                 16    11    11    11    11
    Navigation  (disc.)             New Bus                 48    48    48    48    48
    (Clinton-McCarty)               New Bus                 34    48    48    48    48
 49 Chimney Rock-South Post Oak     New Bus       MTA                               49
 50 Broadway                        New Bus                 83    82    82    82    36
    (Harrisburg)                    Streetcar     1928      67    50    50    50    50
    (Manchester-Park Place)         New Bus       1930's    65    50    50    50    50
    (Garden Villas)  (disc.)        Pioneer  9                    41    41    41
 51 Hardy                           New Bus       1930's     6    60    60    60
 51 Kelley (Hospital)               New Bus                             10     1     1
    (Trinity)  (disc.)              Pioneer 10                    60    60    60
 52 Hardy-Ley (Hirsch)              Pioneer  2                    10    10     9    52
 54 Scott                           Pioneer 15                    80    80    80    52
 56 Airline                         New Bus       1930's    21    25    25    25    56
    (Studewood)                     Streetcar     1939      28    44    44    44    66
 56 Montrose                        Streetcar      3/13/37  23     ?    65    70    34
 58 Hammerly                        Pioneer 12                    48    48    58    58
 59 Aldine Mail                     Pioneer  7                    25    25    25    59
 60 Cambridge (South MacGregor)     Streetcar     1938      76    60    60    60    60
 63 Fonderen                        New Bus       MTA                              163
 64 Lincoln City                    New Bus                       44    44    44    64
 65 Bissonnet                       New Bus                 14    65    65    65    65
 66 Quitman                         New Bus       MTA
 67 Dairy Ashford                   New Bus       MTA                               67
 68 Braeswood (Brays Bayou)         New Bus                       67    68    68    68
 70 Memorial                        Pioneer 16                    16    16    16    70
 71 Cottage Grove                   Pioneer 16                    16    16    16    71
 72 Westview                        New Bus       MTA                               72
 73 Bellfort                        New Bus       1984                        73    73
 75 Eldridge                        New Bus       MTA                               75
 76 Evergreen                       New Bus       1930's    82    82    82    82    36
 77 Homestead (Liberty)             New Bus       1926       5    77    77    77    77
 78 Wayside (Lakewood)              Pioneer  6                    77    77    77    77
    Alabama  (disc.)                New Bus                 73    15    78    78    78
 79 West Little York                New Bus       MTA                               79
    (Irvington)                     New Bus                  4    66    66    78    78
 80 Martin Luther King              New Bus        1/31/82  77    77    77    77    77
 80 Lockwood                        New Bus       1930's    42    42    42    42    42
    (Waugh)                         New Bus       1930's    43    42    42    42    42
    (St. Bernard)                   New Bus                 53    42    42    42    42
    (Texas Southern University)     New Bus                 57    42    42    42    42
    Westheimer/Sharpstown  (disc.)  New Bus       MTA                               81
 82 Westheimer                      New Bus       1930's    82    82    82    82    82
 83 Lee Road-JFK                    New Bus       MTA                               83
 84 Buffalo Speedway (University)   New Bus                 70    70    70    70    73
 85 Antoine-Washington              New Bus       1983                        85    85
 86 FM 1960-Imperial Valley         New Bus       MTA                               86
 87 Sunnyside                       New Bus       MTA                               87
 88 Sagemont (Hobby Airport)        New Bus       MTA                               88
 89 Dacoma                          New Bus       MTA
 96 Veterans Memorial               New Bus       MTA                              108
 97 Settegast                       New Bus       MTA                               97
 98 Briargate                       New Bus       MTA                               98
 99 Ella-FM 1960                    New Bus       MTA                               86
153 Harwin (Briar Forest)           New Bus       1983                              53
161 Wilcrest                        New Bus       MTA                               19
360 Peerless (South MacGregor)      Streetcar     1938      76    60    60    60    60

Pioneer Bus Co.

The most significant suburban bus company in the Houston area was the Pioneer Bus Co., formed in 1936. In 1962, the Pioneer Bus Co. was acquired under same ownership as Rapid Transit Lines, but remained operated separately. Although National City Lines acquired Rapid Transit Lines in 1966, National City Lines did not acquire the Pioneer Bus Co. until the following year. At that time, the Pioneer Bus Co. routes were absorbed into the Rapid Transit Lines route structure. Former Pioneer route numbers are indicated.

An additional independent bus company, the Acres Homes Transit Co., was acquired by Rapid Transit Lines/National City Lines in 1968.


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