Public transportation in Houston is managed by METRO. In general, it is not practical for getting around Houston on a daily basis and owning a car will be required. However, when commuting to downtown from the suburbs outside of Houston, it is highly recommended to use the bus. Once downtown, one can use the rail, if the destination is along its corridor.
Inside the city, the bus system provides access to the major shopping centers, hospitals, sports arenas and connects different hot spots, such as Downtown, Midtown with its Museum Districts, the Medical Center and the Galleria. It should be said that the public transportation system is mostly used by residents who are low on the socioeconomic scale. Unless using the Metro bus for commuting to and from downtown during rush hour, most Houstonians feel that a personal vehicle is a status symbol and have very negative feelings about riding on a bus around town. Recent spikes in gas prices have made public transportation more popular but due to its limited service in the Houston area, residents can only take advantage to a minimum degree and it does not appeal to the masses in general.
Despite public’s negative perception, METRO takes great pride in their fleets and vehicles are clean and the interiors are very pleasant. A European, for example, who may be used to public transportation and decides to take advantage of it in Houston, will find it very enjoyable. Routes may take longer due to limited connections but destinations are announced clearly and should not be a problem for foreigners. Bus drivers are also friendly with giving advice.
When using the METRO public transportation system, one finds that it is very easy to use with ticket counters at all main stops and centers.
Taxis are not very abundant in Houston and often only used for emergencies, airport or sport event trips. Inside the Loop, however, Houstonians do use taxis frequently for visiting bars, clubs or pubs at night. On the outskirts of Houston, one seldom sees a taxi. One would see a limousine more often than a taxi. Limousines are rented for business use and also for “party” trips, which are very popular in Houston. Taxis and limousines are also very clean and safe.