Comment of the Day: How To Drum Up Support for Better Public Transportation in Houston, Faster

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW TO DRUM UP SUPPORT FOR BETTER PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN HOUSTON, FASTER “Here’s what I say: make drivers suffer. Yeah, I’m going there. Make it worse to drive. Make the traffic back up. Don’t expand any highways for another 20 years. Don’t do it. Force public transit on this town. Go ahead, blast me, let me have it. I don’t care. I just spent four fabulous days in Chicago, and I’m so sick to death of all the excuses for why public transit won’t work in this town. We want so badly to be seen as a world-class city, but we’re never going to get there this way. Public transportation can and will work but it’s not going to work if we keep pandering to the drivers who caterwaul constantly about the liberty driving allows us while sitting in the parking lot that is the NW Freeway at rush hour. Oh, but they’re going to get their transportation dollars to drop millions on an expansion of the aforementioned parking lot which will need expansion again in 10 years. What a bunch of garbage. It’s the old chicken-or-the-egg question. Will it be demand that drives public transit or will it be the reverse? Right now, nobody is giving me much in the way of choices, but I suppose they will say because I drive to work every day, I must naturally love it. If I didn’t, I’d go ahead and pad an hour to my commute by taking the bus. They call this a ‘choice.’ It’s a false choice. Suck it up. Building the kind of public transit that is common elsewhere is never cheap, it’s never convenient, it always comes with a price, but so does catering to drivers. I say, to hell with drivers. I understand there is some contradiction underlying this argument. The best public transit system would require hard choices in this town. A lot of nice, historic real estate would probably have to come down to make way for more stations and more tracks. And that kind of system emphasizes the kind of urban density we say we want but often oppose in specific cases. I’m guilty of that contradiction myself sometimes, I’ll admit it. But Houston needs to grow up. Force it on us, go ahead. Make life miserable for the suburban commuters we pander to every time this subject comes up. It’s time. The pennypinchers and the naysayers can shove it.” [Anse, commenting on Federal Money Rolls In for Uptown's Post Oak BRT] Illustration: Lulu

65 Comment

  • I add an hour to my commute everyday so I can ride a metro bus to work. Yesterday I had to sit at Northwest Transit Center for half an hour. I live 7 miles from work and have three cars. If you really want to do it you can.

  • Da, comrade Stalin, make them suffer, so I get my way despite rhyme, reason, or laws of nature.

  • I’m convinced that everyone in Houston lies to themselves (and others) regarding their commute. Ask someone who works downtown and lives in Surgarland or the Woodlands what their commute is. “30 to 45 minutes, its not that bad” will be their response. What a lie! It takes 10-20 minutes just to get from a downtown garage to a freeway most days. Perhaps they are only spending 30-45 minutes on the freeway (on a good day), but they are forgetting the 15 it took on get on the freeway and the 15-20 it takes to get from the freeway to their driveway.
    But its not just people from the burbs that lie about their commute. Talk to someone who lives in Montrose or the Heights and they’ll brag that their commute to downtown is only 10 minutes. Total crap! There are intersections that take longer than that to get through. People who live in mid-town might have a 10 minute commute, but that’s on a good day.
    So here’s the formula I use when calculating someones average commute. If they live inside the loop, double whatever commute time they give you. If they live outside the loop, multiply by 2.5. Try it out when talking to coworkers some time, you’ll find that its fairly accurate.

  • Not only would I like for light rail to be built along Richmond Ave., but I’d also like to see light rail going down Bellaire Blvd. from the Fannin light rail line over to the proposed BRT line on S. Post Oak. While I think that light rail would be better than BRT, at least it’s a start and perhaps the BRT could later be converted to light rail.

    I live inside the loop and just in the past three years, I’ve seen a significant increase in the traffic inside the loop. There’s always traffic backed up somewhere now and it takes twice as long to get to wherever you’re going. If light rail and BRT were available (especially in densely-populated areas), people would use it.

  • Decent rant, but I cant really take much The fact is density promotes public transit and we are just now starting to see that kind of real density. That kind of density comes from all those big apt complexes that are going up everywhere that everyone complains about. That being said, we still are behind on our public transportation and that is thanks to horrible management of METRO over the years. The only way to truly jump start it would be some sort driver in the private sector. You know those developers who tear down historic buildings, cut down trees, and build high-rises in quaint residential neighborhoods? Those are the people that need to be developing our mass transit, because they get things done.

  • Are you ready for the collateral damage from your “make drivers suffer” manifesto? Are you ready for banlieue Houston?
    .
    As gridlock gets worse, suburban neighborhoods will become more and more isolated. At the same time, real estate values close to downtown will skyrocket – they’ve already started. What you’ll start to see, before people embrace transit, is an inversion of ‘poor inner city’ and ‘rich suburban’. We will become like the Ile de France around Paris – with tremendous wealth (and a staggeringly high cost of living) at the center, and increasing levels of poverty the further out you go.
    .
    Oh we’ll get transit out of it – for the rich people who live in the urban core. They will demand it and the powers that be will listen. But it won’t benefit the poor who need it the most. They’ll be more isolated, and worse off than ever.

  • I agree that Houston needs to stop being such a backward town. Seeing that Houston is not a city that preserves its historical areas, that’s not even believable excuse.

  • Godwin’s law was reached within two comments. Although Godwin’s law normally is about Hitler and the Nazi’s- I’m pretty sure comparing Stalin, a communist dictator responsible for the deaths of 20 million people, to Anse, An American citizen using her constitutionally protected rights to express displeasure in transit options and transit programs in the City of houston, is equally over the top.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

  • I don’t care if people drive to work. I just don’t accept the assumption that society is therefore required to make your life easier because you chose to drive.

  • @ZAW, am I to take from your post that we shouldn’t have better mass transit because it would hurt poor people? Sorry, that logic ain’t gonna hold up. I’ve never been to Paris, so tell me, do the suburbs around Paris not have access to public transit? That’s not how it is in London.

  • We should protest with our cars. Have a mass parking protest on highways. If you really want to piss people off. Make traffic on days that we don’t normally have it (like Sunday mornings). Have an effect on all of us even those that don’t sit in traffic on a weekly basis.No one get’s spared… then again who get’s spared from Houston’s traffic.

  • Houston is run by developers. And developers want folks in there cars, driving from the suburban developments to the strip malls. Anything that interrupts that flow will be quashed by those in the city, county and Metro governments.

  • ZAW, that process started in Houston 20 years ago. Even then, former suburbs like Alief, Sharpstown, and Greenspoint had become troubled, while formerly blighted inner loop areas like Montrose and the Heights were rapidly gentrifying.

    As our cities have expanded (for example, Sugar Land is practically a close-in area now!) and exurbs sprawl outward past Katy and Conroe, a significant part of our growing population is saying: “Enough. We don’t want to drive 2 hours a day, we don’t want to live in a bland, inaccessible sea of cul-de-sacs, we want to live near shops and restaurants and any sort of culture.”

    It would be great if Houston and other cities could densify and redevelop their formerly impoverished and barren cores without simply displacing lower-income residents to transit-lacking suburbs. A lot of cities, such as Austin, require that new developments set aside a certain percentage of units as affordable housing (based on a % of the average income of a family in the community).

    But reality is, developers build what people demand, and people paying $2,000 a month for an apartment tend not to want public housing next door. And the builder of that $2,000/month apartment paid enough for that land that he isn’t going to build low-income housing. It’s not a simple problem.

  • The freeways will always be full or close to full during commute hours. If people have the option of rail, once enough people leave their cars and use it to the point where freeway traffic lightens, some people would notice that and go back to cars and the freeways would fill up again.

    Sort of like flushing a toilet….the bowl fills right back up.

  • I support public transit and light rail, but not like this. I understand the feeling coming back from Chicago, but public transit feels a lot different to a visitor than it does to a resident. When I lived in Chicago and I needed something from a place like Target or from a lumberyard, I had to drive from my apartment in Hyde Park to Cicero Ave., which took about 50 minutes in typical traffic. No train takes you to Target or the lumberyard.

    Over time your sense of freedom of mobility really begins to shrink in a city like that. Public transit was great going downtown on Friday or Saturday nights, awful for the daily errands. Right now part of why Houston is growing so much faster than the San Francisco’s and the Chicago’s and the Boston’s is that we have relatively high mobility. Sure, we rank terrible on those annual commute time surveys, but that’s because so many of us have chosen to commute from so far, because of our mobility.

    Take this away and housing gets much more expensive as everyone scrambles for a finite amount of land near job centers, and our growth slows way down. And as much as I love transit, I love growth even more. Getting around like Chicagoans is much less important to me than being bigger than Chicago. And when we get there, we’ll have more money with which to build trains.

  • When I came to this city – first, with some regret because Austin had been my home for 7 years and because NYC was my next step in life – I was surprised by the core of the city, especially between Uptown and Downtown and Downtown and the Medical Center. I could have lived in the suburbs and paid much cheaper prices in rent or live in the urban core and pay a much higher rent. I did the math, and it was much cheaper to live in the core where I could walk to work, bus to downtown, bike everywhere else, and cab after a drink or two. I use my car occasionally. People spend an astronomical amount of money every year just getting in their cars and spending more than 30 mins going one way to work and 30 mins going home. I chose a smaller space at a higher rent to have a better quality of life – immediate access to groceries, restaurants, theaters, museums and work. I think investing in rail and transit is mandatory for this city, but only in the core to provide people a choice. Are some folks always going to drive? Yes, for some unkown reason, large amounts of people in New York still do it. Mass transit and rail should not be seen as methods to relieve traffic, because population growth and traffic will always usurp the amount of road in a growing city. However, rail is a quality of life issue, and if a city truly wants to excel as a world class destination, place to live, and place for business; it must eventually offer these additional options to succeed.

    If people want houses with huge front and back yards and with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths, then they either have to pay out the wazoo in the core or suffer the circumstances and move to the suburbs. New Yorkers make that choice everyday. Mass transit is necessary in the urban cores in order to stay viable business centers in the future. If not, a city merely becomes the next Detroit or New Orleans with vast wastelands as people continue to move further and further out.

  • You are all cRaZy! People move to Houston because they ENJOY sitting in traffic jams. Need proof. Just look out the window. I love sitting in Houston traffic. It’s the best traffic jam in the world. Less wrecks because traffic doesn’t go fast enough that a car would do any damage if it hits anything. I work downtown and I simply can not wait to get in my car and wait in the traffic jam on the Northwest Freeway. I look forward to it all day and so do most people. So please don’t do anything that will cause the traffic jams to go away. Please use the tax money that goes to metro to give Metro managers and decision makers big raises. That will make everyone look forward to driving home in our beautiful traffic jams for many years to come.

  • I think everyone is also overlooking that the Suburb to Downtown commute model is quickly disappearing, Houston is becoming decentralized with multiple employment centers i.e. Downtown, Energy Corridor, Greenway, Woodlands, etc. Therefore the traffic is spreading out and commute times are not increasing exponentially but may have plateaued. So, one could argue that the light rail model that channels people Downtown is already outdated.

  • @Mike, I’m aware of this limitation of using public transit. It takes a considerable rethinking of one’s lifestyle to adjust to using public transportation. For example, I see people buying $200 worth of groceries at a time; if you depend on public transportation, you’re going to buy less and you’re going to shop more often. But these trade-offs exist for regions that emphasize driving over public transit, too.

    I can foresee a day when just about everything inside the 610 Loop is multi-family high rises; River Oaks and West U and the wealthier neighborhoods will likely resist that trend, but we’re going that direction, bit by bit, with every new string of townhomes and every new condo in the works. (If that happens, won’t the fury over the Ashby high rise seem amusing in retrospect?) We’re seeing densification happen; clearly, there are developers who believe the demand is there. Better public transit is not as much about creating demand; it is, in our case, a real response to the demand that exists and is growing.

  • They are digging an entire new subway line – tunnels and all – in Manhattan now. We can barely build a few miles of above ground train lines. They were able to get the stakeholders on board, get funding and get to work. We seem to mired in corruption, special interests and voices in the ‘burbs with more power than they deserve. http://www.mta.info/capconstr/sas/

  • @Mike

    The mobility that you speak of is not available to all in a city like Houston. For starters, car ownership is a household cost disproportionately higher to low income residents, decreasing their “mobility.” Second, access to the city and its economic opportunities shrinks for our transit-dependent population (elderly,physically or mentally disabled,youth, the poor, other non-drivers). All or most transportation projects are paid for with public dollars, which these groups of residents contribute to and they also deserve a transportation network that will enable their prosperity. Houston has done everything wrong on transportation but the actors in power must realize they cannot build a city just for people who can drive/afford cars — they will hit a roadblock with residents soon. No pun intended.

  • I agree with some of the sentiment of the rant. I want Houston to be proactive about transportation alternatives. More options = better for everyone.
    Here’s the problem: Unless it’s a toll road ( or at least one w/ not enough traffic to cover its bonds), an empty road = good to those who take it. People love it when there’s no one on their road!
    This does not apply for mass transit. You can’t build a rail line unless there’s ‘enough’ ridership on day 1. This means that you can’t be proactive with mass transit as you are with highways.
    This means that (at least in the US / Texas) that mass transit is always chasing a growth model that was created by the car / freeway with exceptions in Northeastern cities that grew up b/f the government starting subsidizing car-centric development.
    Unless generational attitudes change, people will literately have to die off while a new generation of non-drivers (teenagers aren’t learning to drive in the same #’s as the past) & non-native Texans that value other options than just cars move to the area to replace them.

  • Absolutely not, Anse. We most certainly do need more and better transit in Houston. I am just standing against your view that the only way to get better transit is to make life miserable for drivers. That might get us transit, but it will cause tremendous collateral damage.
    .
    Heyzeus- you are right that it’s already starting here in Houston. But here in Houston, unlike Austin, we have very high density in older suburbs. Look at Gulfton and Westwood. These areas need transit the most, due to their density and poverty, but they always seem to be last in line for funding.
    .
    It’s a crying shame – because you could remake Westwood and Gulfton into good, affordable neighborhoods with the right transit links (and with appropriate use of CDBG and LIHTC funding) but everyone lavishes so much attention on neighborhoods like Montrose and Midtown that there’s no time left.

  • @ commensense

    The “light rail model” you describe is non-existant. Light rail is not being built to get commuters off the Freeway from suburbs. Its being built in the inner city to provide transportation alternatives for residents looking to leverage the economies of scale and density. They will also gentrify and displace many minority neighborhoods and increase tax revenues for the city…

  • @Commonsense – you make a fair point (regarding the employment centers). But I think the counterpoint would be to ask what happens when those centers start to grow into each other? The Galleria and Greenway are almost there. And it won’t be long till the Med Center, Museum District, Midtown, and Downtown are all one continuous track of density. Its when this happens that mass transit will become extremely critical.

  • If the city/metro is hell bent on building trains, I would be in favor of linking Hobby airport and IAH with downtown on that metro rail. People live in suburbs for the schools.

  • Oh, ZAW, you’re usually a voice of reason. Are there other things Houston can’t have because Paris has attracted a huge, unassimilable, heavily-unemployed, extremely prolific immigrant population to its suburbs?
    Transit may not be the most compelling need, but $48 billion is the price to beat:
    http://www.economist.com/node/21532310

  • I kinda have to agree with this “rant”. Not so much about making drivers suffer, but the idea of “not expanding the highways for another 20 years”.

    Expanding highways has been a constant theme in Houston. I-45 seems to always under construction. Seeminly every stretch of highway has been demo’d and rebuilt. Expanding freeways makes mass transit less appealing. The Katy Freeway expansion earmarked a strip of R.O.W. for future use. But, when there’s a dozen plus lanes in either direction, is there’s probably not much an appetite for mass transit.

    Only congestion and increasing commute times are going to increase the desire and need for mass transit.

  • Congestion is the unavoidable by-product of a thriving city and non-tolled roads (well, and some of the tolled ones too). It’s an inherent flaw in the automobile system, and I doubt even the technology to enable self-driving cars will be able to do away with it fully; there’s just only so much space on the roads and within parking facilities. Thus to the extent that people dislike congestion (and most seem to), “punishment” for drivers is already baked into the cake. Even when that cake is improved, congestion catches up – anybody been on the expanded Katy Freeway during rush hour? For those unwilling to pay for the toll lanes, it’s becoming miserable again.

    Those dwelling and spending their leisure time in Houston’s core have had it relatively easy for decades (they can thank a decent street grid, low density, and a long period of abandonment by the affluent for that), but that is changing as thousands of new (well-off) fellow residents and their cars move in. Of course, there’s irony in that this trend is partly in reaction to the congestion that often must be endured as part of a more suburban existence. I think pain will be felt by more people in the parking situation first, but congestion will inevitably grow too. So, “punishment” is coming for the urbanites too. No extra effort at making them suffer required.

    The question is, do people think the “punishment” is worth the cost and effort involved in the provision of, and behavioral adaptation to, alternatives? Still an open question in Houston, where there still seems to be a fair share of the population that blanches at the thought of walking two blocks on a public sidewalk (where they exist), let alone waiting for and riding a transit vehicle of any sort. Certainly the low quality of service our transit agency has chosen to provide for most of its local bus routes doesn’t encourage people to change their minds in transit’s favor.

  • We need another crappy train like we need a hole in the head. That train has pathetic ridership and goes nowhere that anyone wants to go. Note to all you folks who keep saying we need this to be a “world class city” – Houston IS ALREADY a world class city. We don’t need to conform to failed policies of other cities to succeed.
    *********************************
    Commonsense is correct – the free market and lack of government intrusion is already fixing the problem for us. Many business are relocating to the suburbs. Many are relocating to the Energy Corridor, to the Westside, to Pearland, all over – we are not a centralized hub any longer. Our lack of public transportation has actually made the city better. We are not over-invested in downtown. The city is spread out with multiple business and residential districts located throughout town, and high value housing is following the industry…Behind it comes better schools, dining, grocery, shopping etc. We dont need everything in one place with 10 different high capacity methods of public transportation to get there. The method of spreading it out is far more efficient.

  • I was just waxing eloquent about taking a train from seattle downtown to the airport for $2.75 and travelling underground, at ground level and above ground all in the same ride.

  • As a traveler, I have had the opportunity to ride on subways in Chicago, NYC, Atlanta, London, Paris and Rome. All transit systems were the BEST way to get around the city and it forced us to walk which gave us opportunity to see more sites, enjoy the atmosphere and God-forbid get actual exercise. This city is full of lazy bums and elitist who do not want to give “poor” and homeless people transit access to the suburbs. I have heard the comments at the city council meetings and the ignorance and ass-backwards comments are sickening.

  • I want more rail, but I think it should be built in place of more toll roads to Katy, Hempstead, or Clear Lake. In other words, put it where the ‘freeways’ are. And tear down the Pearce Elevated for good.

  • I’m wondering where all the people who complain about the lack of transit options live. I live in the Memorial Villages area and I don’t have a lack of transit options. There’s a bus that comes right by my house. It’s full of people all the time. There’s a bus that comes by my work every 15 minutes. If you live close in then you shouldn’t really have much of a problem with finding mass transit. If you live far away then you have decided to live with a long commute. Even if you do there are buses that come in from the suburbs too. Where is it that you want to be able to ride these trains too? Why don’t you just move closer?

  • I’ve lived in cities (in US and Europe) where public transport is the norm, and I always heard locals saying, I wish I was rich enough to have my own car, so I’m not stuffed like a sardine in a subway, waste valuable time on transfers and be at the mercy of the weather.

  • You take the train/bus, I’ll stick to my truck, that way if I decide to stop at Home Depot, I can, or maybe a side trip to Central Market, done, or maybe even a stop for flowers for the wife, bam!, but you go ahead with all that freedom that public transportation gives you….

  • Those of you responding to me don’t realize you’re preaching to the converted. I want to see more public transit in Houston, and I have always supported light rail here, even as far as writing letters to the Chronicle in 2003 in support of the referendum.

    But… all things said, the automobile does represent an improvement in human transportation. There are certain advantages to living in Houston instead of Chicago, and it’s not as simple as saying “You just need to learn a different lifestyle.” I believe in options, which means having both car and mass transit, but you simply can’t argue with the trend towards suburbanization that has affected not just every city in the U.S. (including Chicago) but cities around the world that are suburbanizing, like Krakow, Budapest, Istanbul, etc.

    At the end of the day, small vehicles with fewer people in them is an advance in human transportation over big vehicles with lots of people, even if the big vehicles occasionally still work better in certain high density living situations.

  • I always laugh at the multiple employment centers argument and those that think it’s great. In reality, it stifles opportunity and creates even worse traffic.
    If you happen to live near your suburban employer… good for you. If your employer has moved to a different suburb… you’re now SOL as you must commute across town (or sell your house and uproot your family). Also, if you lose your job in your suburban enclave, you’re stuck searching for jobs nearby (instead of those in the loop who can search the entire city for opportunity).
    Traffic patterns are already reflecting the downfall of the “multiple centers” argument. 610 is only getting worse as people try to find ways to cut across the city… and even the Beltway is now getting crazy in certain areas as people try to traverse across town instead of into the city.

  • @Luciaphile: high rise public housing projects are something France has ‘en banlieue,’ that we would be very wise to avoid. Thankfully we have. Our public housing is mostly in 2 story garden complexes, and it’s a good thing.
    .
    But I digress. My argument is not against transit. I want more transit. People will take transit if you make it difficult for them to drive, but it comes at a terrible price. Surely there’s a better way. Maybe redesign our transit system so it’s not so centered on downtown; so park&rodes are easier to reach on foot; so buses actually go where people want to go?

  • you people are nuts.

  • I’ll second what Mike says about transit constricting your world. I’ve lived in a city where the subway and buses were my primary means of getting around. When that happens, you pretty much only shop at stores that are within a 2 or 3 block radius of transit stations. A visit to a big box store that is not on a transit line becomes a major event that you plan ahead of time so that you have a list of items you need to buy while there.
    Nothing inherently wrong with that, but it’s not a lifestyle that people in car- centric cities like Houston can very much understand.
    .
    Though I don’t totally agree with Anse’s original comment, I do think that we as taxpayers need to demand that more of our limited transportation dollars go towards better mobility that is not freeway and tollroad based. For years now, taxpayer dollars from central Houston have helped the county fund projects like the 249 expansion, the NASA Parkway connector, the Westpark tollway, and the Grand Parkway. There has been much less funding of city streets and mass transit by suburban taxpayers. In economics-speak, they are transfer payments, and the shoveling of dollars has been pretty much one way for the last 3 decades from the city to the suburbs. That needs to change.

  • While I realize that most of the previous commenters would welcome a lifestyle that would not require a private vehicle, one must realize that private vehicles are the most convenient modes of transportation. Houstonians are not going to easily give up going where they wish on their own schedules in favor of walking or restricting travel to locations on the public transportation grid. It would either take a massive increase in the cost of gasoline or something else extremely cost-prohibitive before it would even cross most people’s minds. And even then, I am sure many people would decide to keep their vehicles, despite the extra cost.

  • @Walt “And it won’t be long till the Med Center, Museum District, Midtown, and Downtown are all one continuous track of density.”

    It’s almost as if that track of density is following another track :). The same track that takes me to my doctor’s office from my workplace for less than a latte. I save $15 in parking costs each trip, which aren’t covered by insurance. Cha-ching!

  • You know, it saddens me that all these miserable people can’t just move to one of these Utopian paradises of density and trains.

    Someone should put signs up in Huntsville, Mont Belvieu, and Columbus warning all of those inbound Uhauls to abandon hope.

    If users of either highways or public transit systems had to pay for the construction and maintenance of those systems, fuel taxes, tolls, and fares would all increase. Trains will get priced out of the market first, roads and highways last. This tells me something about relative efficiency.

    As for to poor downtrodden that can not manage transportation without Ms. Parker planning it for them, the dude that traverses every suburb in five counties in his Chevy just showed up five years ago from Guanajuato with a pair of boots and an old Gatorade bottle half filled with water to his name. Suck it up and buy a car, they’re not as expensive as you imagine.

  • @nate 99

    You might not know people who do not drive but they exist and they also pay taxes (which is how we pay for our infrastructure in this country). The elderly require reliable transportation and many of them should not be driving anymore (poor eyesight) so how do you recommend they get around? If your transit network cannot move you up and down your city, it merits more investment. The eyeball test suffices in houston when you look around at all the freeways you realize who this town was built for — white males in their 40′s with $$$. That’s bad public policy since not all of us fall within that demographic.

  • Another option to consider in addition to light rail metro is the successful Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) sytems in cities like Curitiba, Bogotá, or Lima. The buses ‘dock’ at specially made stations where riders who’ve already paid the fare are quickly boarded or unboarded. The platforms and the bus doors are at an elevated height so the riders don’t waste time climbing up stairs as in conventional buses. This feature makes this transportation option well suited for the elderly or disabled patrons. Also as a consequence of this design, the BRT buses run at a high frequency. The BRT buses run on separated lanes exclusively for their use and the buses themselves are quite large, LNG powered, clean, and secure.

    Hopefully a good design along these lines can be implemented in the Post Oak corridor.

    I’m just saying that this would be a cheaper use of tax payer subsidies than new 8 lane freeways that generate more traffic on them in a matter of a few years.

  • @ Luis – Your eyeball test sounds a lot like race baiting. What a horrible lens to see the world through. Enigineering “public policy” on transit with demographics in the front of your mind seems like an waste, unless you’re trying to buy grievance votes with the money of white 40 year olds.

    re: Old people; I do hear that Boca Raton has a fabulous subway system.

  • I moved from NYC to Houston in 1995. I lived here for 11 years before moving to CA for 7 years, then returned last year. To me, Houston is all about choices. You can make the choice to move to the suburbs, knowing that you’ll have a longer commute and higher transportation costs. For many people, the choice is worthwhile in part because of the better schools in the suburbs. Houston’s transit actually isn’t that bad in the urban core, and the park and rides are viable for some people who commute from the suburbs. I’ve used the bus system in Houston on several occasions. I even rode the bus to George R. Brown for the last day of the Texas bar exam last year. I have no complaints about the bus system in the core. Expanding mass transit requires increased density, which is something that Houston and the surrounding areas are still working on.

  • I’m okay with the “multi-business center” model, just as long as you don’t ask me to build all the roads to all the various locations. Let the great American entrepreneurs pay to build and expand the roads to their buildings. …and God bless America.

  • Hey mike,

    Guess what? We ARE paying for those freeways to those buildings. Every time I fill my MINI with gas, I pay a little to those freeways. Every time my EZ Tag goes through a toll plaza, I pay a little to those toll roads. Since you obviously live inside the loop (guess what, so do I), and ride a bike to work, you do not have to pay for those highways.

    Doesn’t that warm your heart?

  • I think the answer to our traffic problems is the old cable-car system from Astroworld. Just string them up over existing ROW’s and you’re good to go :)

  • Protest like in San Fransisco!

  • Uhhh… Right you are Dave. Now stop it. No more toll roads. No more (I will settle for no additional) gas tax.

    My heart has nothing to do with it.

  • @Mike – my experience in DC was nothing like yours in Chicago. When I needed something at Best Buy or a mall store I took Metro to Pentagon City. I had my groceries delivered via Peapod from my local Giant Foods for $5 more than going there myself. If I still lived in my old house I could hope a bus straight up the street and ride to Target in about 15 minutes. And when I wanted to go out to eat, get a coffee, visit a bookstore, and have a drink with friends I walked. Maybe Chicago is just lame?

  • Stop it? Are you nuts? Much as I’d love to help you with your little dream, I’d rather support the economy by running my business more. And, that involves driving to work.

    As they say, deal with it.

  • To John (another one): Oh how I wish Peapod was in Houston. I’d definitely use them!

  • Just build the fucking public transit already!!!

  • John (another one): My experiences in some of the ‘other’ cities being tossed around are like yours; well I often walked to the grocery store, but I digress. If I needed/wanted to use a car, there was ZipCar. And you know what? I learned to LOVE delivery. Life is too short to be stuck in traffic.

  • Adam Socki – I agree!
    .
    But it goes past that. Instead of trying to drum up support for public transit by making people miserable if they drive, we need to:
    - Market transit a lot better than we do. TV ads would be best – with upscale looking professionals riding the bus.
    - Reevaluate bus routes – go from a downtown-centric model to one with multiple centers to avoid overly long trips and transfers.
    - re-think where and how we build park&rides and other facilities – make them link up better with neighborhoods and especially with local shopping centers.
    - Most of all, and people hate it when I say this but I will: combat the myth that transit brings crime to neighborhoods. Everyone here on Swamplot knows it’s a myth, but you’d be surprised how many average Houstonians honestly think that buses cause burglaries.

  • Why does it have to be rail? Aren’t buses sufficient? And I totally reject the notion that Houston must have rail to be a ‘world class’ city? Who cares if we are a ‘world class city? What does that even mean?

  • Jason- why do you assume suburban schools are better than urban? What a diss on our teachers and students. Geez. My daughter attends HISD and we love it.

  • @mel, there are good schools in HISD, my son goes to one. However, on average, the schools in the better suburbs are better than HISD. Better facilities, better pay for teachers, etc. There is also the perception, right or wrong, that inner city schools are hit beds of misbehavior, poor teaching, and gasp, mixing of ethnic and socioeconomic classes.

    I asked a colleague at work why he, and others like him, suffer the hour or more each way commute to live in the suburbs. His answer was:

    -Better schools
    -Less chance of your subdivision being next to a “war zone” area
    -Less crime
    -Better amenities (golf, tennis, pools, etc)
    -He’s lived in suburbs all his life, and that’s what he likes
    -Spousal preference

    All valid reasons to live far from work, in his mind.

  • Yes- in his mind. I’d love to run stats on the superior “suburban” school versus the inferior “urban” school in these hypothetical slams on HISD. I don’t know people won’t just admit losing 5-10 hours a week of their life is worth living in a great big house with a great big gas bill.

  • I don’t know why people won’t just admit… darn it.

  • For most suburbanites, it’s not about having the big house and yard – you can get that much more cheaply in one of the Beltway-ring suburban areas. But people feel they have to skip all the way out to a more expensive, further away location so that their kids don’t have to go to school with other kids who are lower income. And you won’t have to encounter such folks at the grocery store etc. like you do in the middle suburbs.