Metro Coming Attractions: Previewing Houston’s New Light Rail Lines

Here’s a whizzy reel showing what the new Metro trains and stations on 4 upcoming light-rail lines are supposed to look like. Dowling St. in the Third Ward, the Edloe Station in Greenway Plaza, the Moody Park Station on the North Line, MacGregor Park Station on the Southeast Line, and Lockwood Station on the East End Line each get about 30 seconds of CGI treatment, from a low-flying camera buzzing some extremely lifelike — though torpid — pedestrians.

Christof Spieler finds a few flaws:

The Third Ward footage seems to be out-of-date; it shows the old alignment crossing Dowling on Wheeler, not the new route that switches to Alabama. But other details are correct: the stations shown are the new prototype station design (by Rey de la Reza Architects), minus artwork.

It’s nice to be able to visualize what these lines might look like. But it’s also a reminder that it’s important to get the details right. At Edloe, for example, the trees integrated into the canopy are nice, but there’s no crosswalk at the west end of the station platform, which means a 500-foot detour for some riders. The Moody Park and MacGregor stations do show that crosswalk, and the sidewalks look pretty good, too. But in all the images, the overhead wires are suspended from their own poles in the middle of the street, not from the streetlight poles on either side, as on Main Street. That makes for more poles and a more cluttered streetscape.


The decidedly car-friendly big-box development shown springing up at the 18-acre former Stewart & Stevenson property on Lockwood and Harrisburg at the end of the video, Spieler notes, is

unfortunately, pretty accurate. That’s an actual project; the developer, Frank Liu, has been trying to find tenants for building retail up to the sidewalk but the only tenant he’s found so far is CVS, which is building its typical pad site box on the corner part of the site.

Video: NC3D

27 Comment

  • Why do they have an affluent-looking blonde white woman rendered at Moody Park with a small child? We all know that’s never going to happen.

  • I would love to have been the foley artist on this clip.

  • Anyone know who created the video?

  • Moody Park is in the Lindale Park area which is an increasingly diverse neighborhood. And further, those of us blond, white women that live inside the loop are as likely to take trains as well as those of us with color. I guess I don’t understand your point Niche?

  • EMME, Moody Park is decidedly outside of the Lindale Park neighborhood. And while, granted, there has been recent gentrification…the demographics just do not yet encompass child rearing trophy wives. Maybe they’ll enter the neighborhood once the developers start replacing crappy bungalows with shiny new McMansions, but that’s going to have to wait until the Heights has been more completely built out.

  • That first rendering is not on Dowling Street, that’s Wheeler Avenue just east of 288.

  • Oh, Niche, you’re one of those. Sorry, I did get your point. I just gave you the benefit of the doubt. Happy day to you.

  • Regarding Niche’s and EMME’s prognostication on the demographics, I think what will push the interest in that area has as much to do with price point than the available housing. The Heights has been getting more unaffordable even for the purchase of a small bungalow. That’s what seems to be pushing more real estate interest in areas east of Main. Add a rail line and you have an additional attraction for this area. Did you notice that those people didn’t get on the train that just pulled out of the Moody Park Station? They’re just sitting there. I tell ya, you put in a rail line and the next thing you know, anglos are hanging out your neighborhood.

  • That was a fun ride! The whooshing soundtrack is mesmerizing, though I’d like more birdsong and passenger conversations…

    @TheNiche: Check with your neighbors – the blonde is probably a wayward au Pair from your ‘hood, and man! is she going to be in hot water when her employer finds her in this video.

  • Porchman, I am cracking up!

  • Joe: You are right and Swamplot is right: That’s Wheeler Street where it crosses Dowling (just east of 288 in the Third Ward.)

  • Pretty slick animation! I’ve actually been trying to incorporate all of the proposed stations for the new Metro lines on a GIS map but I can’t find a list of the station addresses anywhere. Does anyone know where I can find such a list? Or even better, a shape layer with the lines and stations already drawn in?

  • Niche: You are wrong. I live in Lindale Park (a very, very nice part of Lindale park where NONE of our bungalows are crappy) and the neighborhood is becoming very, very diverse, and I know of quite a few “affluent-looking white women” who live over here.

    This is why Lindale is called Houston’s “hidden secret.” No one knows what it’s really about, but are amazed at how nice it is when they first see it.

  • The first part of the clip brought to mind the drawbacks of putting light rail in a residential area. NO ONE is going to want to live in those houses lining the streets and possibly no will want the houses behind them.

    Our Apartment complex is on the current line and thank God our apartment is on the side farther away from the line and faces away from it. In addition to the squealing of the rails, the drivers are required to blow the horn when approaching many intersections. We can still hear it a bit, but not enough to be disturbing. The noise at the apartments near the rail is very loud and the the rail runs from 4:30am until 2:15am. On weekends they’ll be able to sleep in; it doesn’t start til 5:30am.

  • Why is the black man holding a basketball while talking to his two friends?

  • Drew & EMME. I know where you’re coming from. I just wanted to piss off the squares with an inflammatory comment. I’m like that. Deal with it.
    Porchman, given that I’ve met you and the Mrs., I’d be hard pressed to say that your wife isn’t a trophy or that you are ill-equipped to speak for trophy wives…however, the empirical evidence would seem to indicate that the presence of trophy wives with school-aged children in a neighborhood along the proposed North line is a fantasy.

  • OMG – that is our neighbor on Fairbanks! Her baby is all grown up.

  • Just great. A bunch of trains going nowhere I want to go. Here’s a fresh idea – Has anyone thought of putting a line out to the airport? You know, like 100% of other cities in the world.

  • “Just great. A bunch of trains going nowhere I want to go. Here’s a fresh idea – Has anyone thought of putting a line out to the airport? You know, like 100% of other cities in the world.”

    If only that were true! Try catching the subway to Manhattan (or anywhere) from La Guardia or JFK. In L.A. you have to take a shuttle from a train stop to get to the airport.

  • Sorry I meant competently well run cities.

  • Airport connections are convenient for travelers from other cities (who don’t live there and don’t pay property taxes), but quantitatively speaking, ridership on those routes has proven fairly low. It’s difficult to justify FTA matching funds.

  • It’s a serious mistake to start expecting mass transit to pay it’s way on a balance sheet. Show me a profitable mass transit system and I’ll show you an urban density that would be unbearable for Americans to live in. Mass transit isn’t a business, it’s a public utility like water or police or fire protection. Mass transit should reduce pollution, traffic congestion, deaths from drunk driving, and the necessity of driving teenagers around town for their extra curricular activities. Mass transit increases the profitability of businesses and citizens, by increasing the quality of life, just the way having trash pickup, and sewers, and public parks all do.

  • Well said, Scott.

  • Yep, I’m with Scott too. Successful mass transit is part of societal evolution, man! I’m not aware of any city on the planet where mass transportation is a fully private or a profit center.
    Using trash as metaphor:
    Imagine if every individual in your neighborhood had to independently burn/bury/compost his/her waste/trash/deceased! In a hotel/apartment/condo?! On an eighth of an acre?! It would be outrageous of course!
    Though, it was once just so. Today, outside of city-limits, you can choose your trash-hauler but this is just too inefficient in dense areas.
    Of course, everyone is free to compost/recycle/hoard (within reason) but government relieves you of HAVING TO – for everybody’s benefit.

  • Again, props to Scott. I know if I were able to use mass transit to get to where I wanted I would definitely use it. After spending some time in England I have to say its a quick and cheap way to get around.