Comment of the Day: How Another Kiddie Train Could Preserve Hermann Park’s Parking Heritage

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW ANOTHER KIDDIE TRAIN COULD PRESERVE HERMANN PARK’S PARKING HERITAGE New Hermann Park Train“Right now is a bad time to be predicting parking lot requirements for the next 20 years. Driverless cars may make them obsolete. If that happens, they can turn the parking lot into a ‘parking lot museum’ — kids of the future can visit it to get a feel for what life in the 20th century was like. They could even ride the Vulture Express, a 2mph trip up and down row after row of filled parking spaces that goes on for hours.” [Memebag, commenting on Grassy Knolls, Children’s Swamp Part of Possible Hermann Park Parking Coverup] Photo of Hermann Park kiddie train: Lou Minatti

11 Comment

  • Autonomous driving will not eradicate vehicles in 20 years. Totally bogus. Populations will continue to increase, congestion will increase. Autonomous vehicles may reduce a sliver of the vehicular population, but vehicles will be alive and well through the next generation and perhaps beyond. It’s like when email supposedly was supposed to eliminate the usage of paper — rather, the usage of paper has increased…

  • Priceless: the Vulture ‘Express’!
    The kids will ask their grandparents, Why did you hate looking for a parking space so much! I think it’s fun!

  • Fernando: Paper use in North American offices has reduced, but ignoring that, once your car can drive home by itself you won’t need to park it at the zoo. You can send it home, or just turn it loose to drive other people around.

  • Autonomous driving and ride-sharing will certainly induce additional trips and over-the-road passenger miles; that’s true of anything at all that reduces the cost of transportation.
    If autonomous vehicles cannot communicate with one another to negotiate intersections or if they must share the roads with human drivers, then it is possible that traffic congestion will increase. However, access to low-cost autonomously-driven van-pooling could stupendously curtail congestion; and if that type of service were to be subsidized either on the demand side (e.g. tax credits) or on the supply side (e.g. direct local subsidy, tax credits, loan guarantees, etc.)…yeah, *that* could be a game-changer in terms of traffic congestion and it would be far better policy than similar subsidy programs to solar energy.
    On the issue of PARKING, actually, this is the brightest spot. If people own fewer private cars and instead rent them and share them, then (at the very most!) a city only needs as many vehicles in it per person as are concurrently on the road at any given moment during the day. Now yes, that’s still a lot of vehicles — but it’s a lot fewer vehicles than currently exist. Parking exists to accommodate vehicles that are not in use, so if you reduce the total number of vehicles, you can reduce the number of parking spaces that are required for most facilities.
    There’s a lot that we don’t know about how things will play out regarding traffic congestion, but the implications for parking are very very clear.

  • Obsolete != eradicate, and he’s talking about parking lots, not cars themselves. It is quite reasonable to think that as autonomous vehicles increase in use, this will result in efficiency that reduces requirements for massive parking areas.

  • Where are these magical automatic cars going to go once they drop you off at the Zoo?

  • No. We need to address the parking issue in Hermann Park now. Not everyone can afford to be within walking distance of the Park, and public transit is much too limited in the Houston Metro area to allow people to come in from the suburbs and outer neighborhoods for a day, without their car. So Hermann Park either needs more parking on site, or at least a shuttle service to nearby parking in the Museum District and the Med Center.
    We shouldn’t let dreamy “driverless cars will make parking obsolete” arguments prevent us from getting this issue addressed.

  • Somewhere else, since they’re automated and don’t need to stick around. Here’s a business model for you:
    1. Car drives you to park.
    2. Car goes to store.
    3. clerk loads car with your order.
    4. Car comes back to pick you up, or on to another errand.
    Or, since the kids are big on sharing these days, it can go drive someone else who pays for the use of your car. Kind of like the magical automatic cars that Uber is playing around with in Pittsburgh.
    Or, since I’m not driving it, it can go park itself somewhere far away and come get me when I’m done. I hear the Astrodome will be available soon.

  • The idea is that the cost of using a centralized autonomous car rental service will be far cheaper than owning your own car. If that’s not the case, then the government will have to ensure that the cost of owning a car is significantly increased to being out of reach for all but the top 5% of us.
    Otherwise, yeah, there’s almost no benefit. Thinking of rush hour, let’s say you have one building with a couple thousand workers. Roughly half of them will all leave at one specific time of the day, and basically all within a 1 – 2hr time frame. To retain a similar freedom to what we have now by being able to step right into your car and go home, you’d still have to manage parking for at least half a building’s cars for a given time period dependent on traffic conditions from the employees homes (say 40mins for now).
    Same for the zoo. You have a thousand people that will spend maybe 2hrs there, but just spent 40mins driving there. Without restricting people’s right to own a car you’re still going to have close to a thousand cars waiting for their owners. And you wouldn’t want the cars making needless trips to outside lots creating unnecessary traffic.
    There has to be some new impetus for the government to restrict people’s freedom to own their own car and I suppose that would come from the overall punctuality of an autonomous system compared to what we could currently create with a manual system. Otherwise the government could already be doing the exact same thing now by slowly ratcheting up costs on personal automobile ownership.
    It almost sounds far too tricky for this country to handle considering much easier systems we continually fail to implement.

  • Sure, we should address parking, but not at the 20 year time scale. A 5 year plan makes more sense until we have a better vision of the future.
    Either that or the whole parking lot museum thing.

  • @ZAW, we already have that satellite parking thing with shuttle service. The shuttle service is called the Metro Red Line. There is satellite parking all along the line. Pick one.