Comment of the Day: Holding Out for that Younger, Sexier Mass Transit Option We Haven’t Met Yet

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOLDING OUT FOR THAT YOUNGER, SEXIER MASS TRANSIT OPTION WE HAVEN’T MET YET Freeways“Great. As I spend the next few years in grinding traffic, I can take comfort in knowing that no new mass commuting options will be initiated in our region, because we are waiting on futuristic autonomous cars to solve all of our problems. People will give up the comfort of their own private transportation for the luxury of riding in a glorified Uber (but without a driver to keep it clean or compensate for navigation errors). From an urban planning perspective, that’s like meeting a beautiful woman with a great personality but never asking her out because you are just certain that if you ever meet Kate Upton, she will find you infinitely attractive and satisfy you forever.” [Shmoo, commenting on Comment of the Day: Wait, So ‘Keep Adding Freeways’ Was the Long-Term Fix?] Illustration: Lulu

16 Comment

  • There’s no question that we need to think about our transit options. But mass transit? LA’s spent $12 billion on mass transit since 1990 and it’s transit ridership is lower than it started. The ridership on our new rail lines is abysmal. The red line was only successful because when it opened, TMC took the parking shuttles away.

    The answer isn’t necessarily more highways either; that new section of the Grand Parkway consumed 2% of the US annual demand for concrete in the years it was built. No way will that scale of construction be affordable in the future. Instead we should encourage people to live and work within the same node and improve transportation options within nodes and between adjacent nodes. It would be great to make it easy to get from Katy to the Woodlands, or from the Woodlands to downtown, but it’s never gonna happen.

  • Pretty much. High-speed, Inter-city rail might still have legs if one project were to be completed anywhere close to budget, but new inner-city metros outside of truly dense areas won’t be completed by the time developers figure out what to do with all the empty parking garages in central business districts.

  • LOL. Great comment of the day.

  • I’m reposting from the parent thread:

    @ Shmoo: I don’t really think that you’ve posed a strong analogy. If the autonomous jitney revolution fails to take root very quickly or at all, even then, our preparations for it would not have been useless. As I’d mentioned, METRO’s HOV/HOT/P&R system is already brilliant and their vanpooling program has been successful; to build upon that infrastructure and expand it just happens to also prepare us for future tech.

  • im glad i made the right choice to not own a house in the suburbs,i have a house that’s 1,845 sqft lot 4,000 in the heights area and my mortgage balance is only $76,000 mortgage payment $569.00 per month.i could get a mansion in the suburbs for the same value or less for what my house is worth in the heights,but it doesn’t make sense to live in the suburbs,for one it’s not a great investment and by 2020 a million more people will move to houston so traffic in the suburbs is gonna get worse.if i was to buy a mansion i will just use my boat load of equity to live close in such as garden oaks,montrose,heights or any other popular hoods that’s centrally located.

  • Shmoo: You chose to commute vs. living closer to work. My guess is you get a bigger/nicer house for less money at that trade off of driving less time. Sometimes you don’t get everything you want.

  • Poor analogy – widespread adoption of autonomobiles will take some time, but the chances of it happening are quite a bit better than the chances of Kate Upton finding you attractive, Shmoo.

    In the meantime, rather than griping about traffic, be a part of the solution! Move closer to work, work closer to home, or get to know our existing mass transit system. I have a feeling that 90% of people who gripe about Metro never actually use it. The Park and Ride network is excellent (for the business districts it serves, at least), and let’s be honest – the parts of town where the local bus service is poor are the parts where driving is easy enough anyways (manageable traffic, ample parking, etc).

    Agree with Txcon – overall, we’ll get the highest return on our transportation dollars by focusing on improving mass transit connectivity between the suburbs and additional business districts, and by targeting key choke points in the current highway network (rather than major new highway construction or widening projects).

  • Who is Kate Upton?

  • I agree with Txcon. The Red Line ridership everyone likes to hold-up as proof that light rail works is skewed heavily because of the people taking it from the parking lots on the south side of the bayou to the hospitals on the north side.

  • @Txcon: “Instead we should encourage people to live and work within the same node and improve transportation options within nodes and between adjacent nodes.”
    How does that work? What encouragement (beyond the hell of rush hour traffic) can we impose on people to coerce them into changing employment or residence?

  • Diaspora, let me google that for you:

  • Ok, longtime lurker here. We bought a condo last year for about $75k in clear lake area, and that’s on the low end for a decent complex around here. I work in town and would love to either live closer or work nearby and am in fact looking for a job closer to home. I’m lucky that I have decent park and ride options for my commute but on the days I get stuck with a maniac bus driver I wish I could just take a train to town. But this was the best I could afford for a home given my constraints, the strictest of which is income. This area gives us a shot at decent schools, although our Zone school is not great. It’s close to family, which mitigates my childcare costs. And we’re in a condo because the houses in our budget were total fixer uppers which we were scared to take on with our income and having a small child. So no, mansions out here in suburbia are not as cheap as you might think, and it’s not always possible to just “move closer.” Just my two cents, anyway.

  • Once people figure out that it’s cheaper to keep the autonomous cars on-the-road rather than storing them in parking garages, and that having them circle the block at a very low rate of speed in perpetuity keeps them in a ready state – ready to zoom off to pick up passengers and bring in income while the owner is at work – then, and only then, will Houston residents know the true meaning of gridlock and immediately wish that legitimate mass transportation alternatives had been built long ago.

  • I’ve been lucky to have figured out that the way to reduce the commute time is to put my work close to my home.: yes, there are trade-offs made but isn’t life full of them? Hoping and praying for a mass-transit solution while sitting in gridlock is a surefire recipe for not getting anything done. Be the change that you want.
    Living inside the Loop still has its share of congestion but I don’t have a long daily work commute (12 minutes). That being said, if I ever have to move to the suburbs (aging parents), I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m quitting my ITL job to try to get a job out there. Once you sample a short commute, it is really hard to be trapped again in the rolling cage of a car.

  • I moved from the city (near downtown) to the burbs because my job relocated there. I now have a 7-min commute to my office and a 20-min commute if I have to go to another site that’s a few miles further. I would hope that more people will be able to do the same. The challenge comes when both husband and wife work and their jobs aren’t in the same location. I have a lot of friends stuck in that situation where one is happy and the other one suffers.

  • @Fernando
    I have multiple friends in that situation.
    Energy Corridor and Baytown (later Spring)
    Spring and Katy
    Energy Corridor and TMC.
    River Oaks and Energy Corridor
    Museum District and NASA.
    Huntsville (SHSU) and NASA.
    But I also have some friends where both spouses work TMC, Uptown, or Downtown (myself).