HOUSTON – When METRO rolls out its new northbound red line service this weekend, experts at the University of Texas Health Science Center will be rolling out a new study.
They will be looking at how riding the rail can affect commuters.
“What happens to peoples’ physical activity over time?” Casey Durand, one of the researchers, said.
And there is one theory they are out to prove – that public transportation can help you lose weight.
Researchers believe the more you ride, the more calories you can burn, since riders tend to walk more than drivers do.
“Almost by definition there’s some physical activity that’s included with that, and the nice thing is you don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to think about going to the gym or going and jogging or something like that. It almost happens without thinking.”
Over the next four years, the $2.5 million study will look at the habits of about 2,000 people living along Houston’s new rail line.
They are people like Diana Lerma, who believe the service will catch on.
“I think it is plausible. I think it is going to show a higher rate of success as time goes on,” Lerma, with the Lindale Park Civic Club, said.
She said she drives to work now, but may reconsider.
“Then it would be encouraging me to get some sort of exercise,” Lerma said.
Researchers said it is one of the biggest studies of its kind ever conducted, and the findings will be important since they can help METRO secure funding.
What people lose in weight now could one day be the city’s gain.