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Transportation in Houston

Getting to and around Houston is made easier through public transit and the region's system of highways, transit centers and other transportation options. Learn more about METRO's services as well as major roadways and more that will help you navigate the nation's fourth-largest city. 

METRORail

There’s more to building a successful light-rail system than laying track and putting up stations. That’s why METRORail made a commitment to not only serve and connect Houston communities, but also to maintain their culture and integrity. METRORail has added more than 17 miles of new sidewalks and 45 miles of 12-foot traffic lanes. The expanded light-rail system that now runs nearly 23 miles is an essential element of the city’s plans to meet the transportation and environmental challenges of today and tomorrow, easing our growing traffic congestion and improving air quality.

METRO Bus System

METRO has more than 1,200 buses. With an extensive network of bus routes and convenient park-and-ride facilities helping to ease rush-hour commutes, the METRO Bus System keeps the Houston region moving. METRO is paving the way for a cleaner Houston with more than 440 transit diesel-hybrid buses in operation. Since 2003, METRO has been actively working to improve the air we breathe with state-of-the-art technology that reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 50 percent and offers substantial savings in fuel. Hybrid technology is METRO’s current choice for vehicles, and each year, as part of its fleet replacement plan, METRO purchases 100 buses.

Highways

Houston is the crossroads for interstate highways 10 and 45. Other major highways serving Houston are Interstate 610, U.S. 59, U.S. 90, U.S. 290, Texas 99, Texas 146, Texas 225, Texas 249, Texas 288, Hardy Toll Road, Westpark Tollway, and Beltway 8. Houston TranStar is a lifesaver for anyone wanting to avoid congested roadways when driving throughout the city. TranStar uses state-of-the-art technologies to reduce congestion on major roadways. Monitoring traffic incidents with more than 730 regional closed-circuit cameras, TranStar dispatches vehicles to remove debris or hazardous materials, communicates with emergency vehicles about accident scenes, and sends tow trucks to stalled vehicles. Dynamic message signs and a robust website inform the public about expected travel times and traffic-related issues.

Highway Nicknames

As in most cities, routes and freeways in Houston are designated by numbers, but natives usually refer to them by nicknames. Here are a few of the major freeways and their nicknames.

  • Beaumont Highway – U.S. 90
  • Beltway 8  – Sam Houston Parkway/The Beltway
  • East Freeway –  Interstate 10 East
  • Eastex Freeway – U.S. 59 (north Houston to downtown)
  • Grand Parkway – Texas 99
  • Gulf Freeway – Interstate 45 (south of downtown)
  • Katy Freeway – Interstate 10 West
  • The Loop – Loop 610 (in all four directions)
  • North Freeway – Interstate 45 North
  • Northwest Freeway – U.S. 290
  • South Freeway – Texas 288
  • Southwest Freeway – U.S. 59 (Southwest Houston to downtown)

Airports

The Houston area is served by two major airports: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). Houston’s largest airport, IAH, is located approximately 23 miles north of downtown Houston, and currently ranks 15th among United States’ busiest airports with scheduled nonstop domestic and international flights. More than 650 departures leave daily from IAH. Hobby Airport is located approximately seven miles south of downtown, and offers nonstop flights to more than 50 destinations throughout the United States. It’s also a regional center for corporate and private aviation. A third site, Ellington Airport (EFD), is a joint-use civil and military airport serving the needs of the U.S. military, NASA, and general aviation.

Arts & Culture

Houston is one of only a handful of cities in the country with resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines including opera, drama, musical theater, symphony and ballet. There are also 19 different arts and cultural institutions that make up the walkable Museum District.

Parks & Outdoors

Of all the things that make living in Houston so enjoyable, high on the list are the city and county parks along with state and federal recreation spots.

Neighborhoods & Communities

Houston offers a wide variety of neighborhoods to suit the taste and budget of residents. Find your perfect neighborhood.

Get the Relocation Guide

Want to learn more? Download or receive a copy of the Relocation Guide in the mail for more information on Houston!

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