Saving Uptown, Houston’s Masterpiece, from the Scourge of Dedicated Bus Lanes

SAVING UPTOWN, HOUSTON’S MASTERPIECE, FROM THE SCOURGE OF DEDICATED BUS LANES Website of The Uptown Property and Business Owners CoalitionThe Uptown Property and Business Owners Coalition is out today with a new website (portrayed here) meant to drum up opposition to the Uptown District and Metro’s plans to install dedicated bus lanes down Post Oak Blvd. The lanes, the last vestige of what was once a plan for an Uptown light rail line, would run from dedicated bus lanes linking to the Northwest Transit Center all the way to the proposed Bellaire/Uptown Transit Center near U.S. 59 and Westpark, where they might someday intersect with a University Line traveling eastward from that point. But the team behind the website wants none of it: “Uptown is a Houston masterpiece. Why do they want to ruin it?” reads the copy on the home page. Meanwhile, an introductory blog post on the site encourages readers to attend a friendly “town hall” meeting, tomorrow night at the Uptown Hilton, in the company of “hundreds of angry business owners and Uptown area residents.” [Save Uptown; previously on Swamplot]

68 Comment

  • Yes! Save one of the few areas in town dense enough to support it from the scourge of mass transit!

  • So a group of “concerned” (a nice way to put it) Uptown Business owners who are against having transportation choices that benefit everyone are using a website template that is basically available to everyone…

  • I’m skeptical of the Uptown BRT, but yikes… “just look what happened down Main Street.” Kind of discredits the open letter to cite Main St as a cautionary example, as it is in significantly better shape (more office, retail, restaurants, apartments, etc) than before MetroRail’s Red Line.

  • Yes, it only took main street 12 years to recover by driving out local businesses.

  • I live a block from Post Oak, and I do knot know if the dedicated bus lane is a good idea or not. I DO know, though, that this “study” is that its opponents are trotting out is bad…really bad. It is a poorly-written opinion piece disguised as a statistical analysis, the insidiousness of which is mitigated only by its obvious amateurism. At a certain point (somewhere around page 20), one ceases to read and begins instead to rubberneck.

    As I, random dude, hold my comments to a higher editorial standard than the author of the study / the “Harvard-trained, world-renowned authority on distribution channels and manufacturer/distributor relationships” (both, btw, of tenuous disciplinary relation to a proposed city bus route!), I will now attempt to cite a few examples that support my original thesis:

    1 – The statistics used, often inapplicable, are always too vague to be useful. It is not clear, for example, what a table of statistics regarding the “EFFECT OF CAR MOBILITY REDUCTIONS IN HIGH STREETS” is supposed to tell us, when vague terms such as “Decrease sales” are supposed to exemplify the deleterious effects of car mobility reduction.

    2 – A good number of conclusions, such as “Discretionary consumption is generally the most harmed,” or “Commercially premium areas become mass merchandising areas – (Ed. note: POOR PEOPLE, GUYS!) are completely unsubstantiated by any of the sparse quantitiative evidence presented.

    3 – The “study” begins with the supposition that the broader mobility benefits of the proposed bus lane are unfounded, but presents little evidence for why this is the case. It focuses only on the supposedly detrimental effects of the bus lane on commerce along a specific stretch of Post Oak Blvd.

    If nobody else is interested in spending a few minutes of their life reading this thing, let me just run the dog whistle through a filter for everyone: the bus lane is going to bring all the poors to Post Oak. This is because the majority of moneyed folks moving to boomtown Houston for jobs live outside the city center and need to be able to drive right up to whatever retail spot their heart desires. If you make that inconvenient, all the sudden Post Oak becomes Discount City. Now, I’m not saying that’s WRONG, but that’s an OPINION, and to present such as some kind of scientific finding is beyond reprehensible.

    Ultimately, this is just a fight among rich people over other people’s tax money. If this is the best the no-bus crowd has got, though, I shudder to imagine their vision for the future.

  • I agree with the business owners and don’t care how hard these clowns try to sell this deal, the concept
    is ill-conceived – it’s a poorly-suited solution to a non-existent problem. Metro’s demonstrated ineptness and inability to execute will destroy Post Oak and only add to the congestion with more of their covered wagons. These non-elected Uptown District “officials” are aroused at the thought of blowing this huge wad of cash of other peoples money – a true waste. Do something useful.

  • Over $350 M for the benefit of whom? Post Oak Blvd is not even on the TXDOT 100 most congested streets. It’s 610, San Felipe , Westheimer and Richmond.$350M would put a double decker on 610

  • This is all actual text from the “Harvard-trained world-renowned” authority which apparently proves that the anti-transit radicals are right about Uptown BRT:

    “What is most relevant to the average Houstonian: UK or London? Where is Glasgow? In the UK or in Ireland? What is the second city of Mexico? Which is the capital of Italy: Florence, Rome or Milan? For a Russian with a serious health condition, where is the health care capital of the US? In NYC or in Houston?”

    “The Dedicated Bus Lane lines (DBL) are a specific case of the Bus Rapid Transit lines (BRT), where the buses operate in their own/separated lanes. However, these bus public transport bus lines are referred commonly and in scientific literature as BRT lines. So, in the report, we referred to the Uptown Project as the Uptown DBL Project, but when we talk about other cases or make theoretical references, we use the term BRT lines.”

    “In our opinion the anticipated impact is that Post Oak Blvd and the entire Galleria area will sustain serious and permanent damage. Post Oak retail will be forever damaged if the Uptown DBL project is implemented.”

    “Finally, the retailers sponsoring this study are correct in recommending more responsible Houstonians as well as Post Oak Blvd stakeholders be allowed input. We strongly agree, that Houston City Hall must seriously evaluate the dire consequences of destroying an area that today does not present mobility problems.”

    “The irrreversibility of the negative impact to Post Oak Blvd. if City Hall decides to pursue the Uptown DBL Project will be severe and the overall damage done to the Houston brand will be significant.”

    Harvard is slipping you guys.

  • Rail destroyed every business on Main Street. The same will happen on Post Oak

  • Rail did not destroy every business on Main Street. Blocking effective high quality transit on Post Oak is currently reducing future profits of businesses on Post Oak.

  • 2 more things:

    1 – I see no value in the Main St. comparisons. A rail line is a very different thing than a bus driving by every so often.

    2 – The idea that Post Oak is some kind of paradise right now is laughable. It’s a nice enough drive, but it is a fairly inhospitable pedestrian experience. I don’t see how the proposal will substantially change any of this.

  • “Rail destroyed every business on Main Street. The same will happen on Post Oak”

    I can’t tell if you’re satirizing the anti-rail folks or if you actually meant this as a sincere argument.

  • I challenge anyone to demonstrate how, with all the left turns (which by the way, are being consolidated into signalized crossings regardless of BRT or not) on Post Oak, car mobility will be significantly impacted post-construction. If the medians were being widened just to plant more landscaping with essentially the same design, would people still be complaining? Or is there something about buses that people just can’t handle?

    I suppose you could just run commuter buses down the outside lane instead. But then how many people complain that “buses interfere with traffic”? And there is no question, NONE, that the office workers in Uptown deserve quality commuter bus service, and double-decking all the freeways won’t remove that need.

  • I don’t blame them for not wanting dedicated lanes down the middle of Post Oak. The area doesn’t have the grid of Downtown, and we all know the car is king. I’m not even for light rail going down Post Oak. It should go under it (not on or above). If any district in town can afford it is Uptown. I know that’s a foreign concept for this city, but it’s a small stretch of the line that could be underground and everybody wins.

    It’s what cities do in density. Shocking.

  • Sure, it was painful, but Main Street is way better now than before rail. Lots more dining, bars, pedestrians, and general stuff going on.

  • I wonder what the percentage of bus riding folk can even afford to shop or eat on Post Oak?

  • Yall sound like a bunch of educated idiots. The specs of mass transit are all proven.
    1-Build a high frequency route with great infrasructure, and beautification ex. Red Line (Houston), Health Line (Cleaveland), Hiawatha Line running 15 min or better and the ridership along that route will more than double. Theres proof here in houston the route 15 that served fulton served only 2500 a day with hundreds of stops, while the jorthline extension severs over 8,000 a day with 8 stops!
    2-Said Route will provide a tremendous economic return in developement and infrastructure, while only costing the public a nominal fee. Proof- every BRT/Light Rail line in the US!
    3-Public/Privite both win.
    What do people not get i just dont see what yall are not understanding!

  • ““Uptown is a Houston masterpiece. Why do they want to ruin it?”

    Because they can…. it’s Houston after all … land of NO zoning!
    Besides I have no objection of letting these people sit in traffic is they so want, but remember, in a few years that might equate to quite a long time :D

  • Stop with the Main St. rail comparisons. Main permanently lost a lane in each direction (down to just one lane when the project was completed), and had sections shut down for decent periods of time for construction. I know the section of Main that runs through midtown was sketchy at best, and it’s MUCH nicer now. The economy of this area was not as healthy back then, either. Post Oak is not losing any car lanes, and will still be drive-able during construction. I’m sure that there will be lane closures during construction, but not days of total closures that rail construction required. The Uptown business owners don’t want their image of bus-riding people in their area, unless they’re there to clean their offices or work in the restaurants. Giving people the ability to get into Uptown without driving could (could) alleviate traffic on 610, 59, Westheimer, and Post Oak. I could see myself using it to get to the Galleria instead of wasting time sitting in traffic and parking/leaving.

  • Less than 500 people a day ride a bus to Post Blvd according to Metro. Uptown predicts 14100 in 2018 will be riding this bus. The last commuter bus fro Katy/290 was discontinued in January due to low ridership and that bus Te 285 as it was called transferred at the NWTC just like this one is going to do. $350m for 1.7 miles is more than Metro spent for rail I thought the 2003 referendum voted rail down Post Oak

  • To be fair, if you’re a small business owner why would you not be against rail? They’re obviously not compensated for their lost business during construction phases and yes, the rail on main st. did kill a bunch of businesses (though certainly not all of them). I remember main st. being a wasteland through midtown for many many years after the rail line until the economic good times rolled in. Additionally, you can’t cite rail as the driver for economic activity along main st. as nearly every other major thoroughfare in the central parts of town has seen similar levels of investment. The money was going to come regardless and was all tied to Houston’s good fortune, not rail.
    That said I have nothing for or against rail on Post Oak, the entire area is a blight on Houston and is to be avoided at all cost unless you live/work there.

  • BRT I should say, too early to make the cognitive switch from main to post oak.

  • @kjb434, that word, recover, I don’t think it means what you think it means.
    main street had no local business for the light rail to drive out when it was being built. What little business there was in midtown and downtown along the light rail was impacted less than freeway construction impacts those local businesses. farther out, in the med center and out to the stadiums it’s the same tale. none of the museums were negatively impacted, nor was the zoo. the hospitals along the LR line were in no worse shape after the construction than before.
    and yes, now that we are 12 years later, midtown and downtown are 10 times better than before, directly adjacent and within a block or two of the light rail, for the entire length of the line. Take your inaccurate quips somewhere else. light rail has been the greatest boon of the area it traverses than anything else this city has done.

  • Buses (rolling trash cans) are SH!T and this BRT horror show is BAD for Uptown!!! Whose dumbass idea is this?!
    They are trying to completely F@CK UP Uptown ‘Big Time.’ Poor Houston, cursed with dumbass hillbillies in leadership. SMH.

    If Houston doesn’t have the balls to bring sleek modern rail to Uptown, just leave it be…leave well enough alone. But don’t do this BS just to say you’ve done something. Wait for rail or leave it as it is.

    Since the sh!t heads are itching for something to do…take the BRT money and use it instead to fix/repair Houston’s raggedy-ass streets/roads. Houston and NYC are tied for 1st place for American big city with the worst streets/roads…they are absolutely GD MF horrible. Do that instead, and leave Uptown alone…its fabulous as it is without a parade of rolling trash cans making us a laughing stock of cosmopolitan hillbillies. Damn, what a stupid country-ass idea.

  • Just for grins I drove Post Oak this AM From On Post Oak at 610 to Richmond and Post Oak and back again 10 minuets
    The only congestion on Post Oak is sometime in the evening when cars are trying to enter 610 from Westheimer, San Felipe and Post Oak
    BRT has never been tried down a major retail street in USA IF Uptown Development is wrong Say goodbye to retail, thousands of jobs and millions in sales tax DOLLARS. These guys are paying $50 rents. No way they can take a hit

  • One man’s masterpiece is another man’s traffic cesspool.

  • What so few people remember about the Main Street line is that they tore up the entire corridor at once for fear of losing their federal funding, instead of doing it in sections. And thanks to Tom DeLay, they indeed lost $65M and had to proceed with local funding. Here’s an interesting 2009 article about it:

    Yes, it was the death knell for some businesses who had to deal with months of construction closures. However, I don’t think any Main St. business today can deny that rail has been a boon for them. Main St. was pretty sad before rail came along. People mostly used it to get in and out of downtown.

  • Honest truth, you need to sit down and take a few deep breaths.
    First there is no comparison to Main Street and what happened when they built the rail here.
    There were two other much larger projects going on at the very same time and they all contributed to the problems they faced.
    The Cotswald project which rebuilt every east west street from Texas Avenue to Commerce street.
    and every North south street from Smith to Caroline were also being rebuilt at the same time.
    Most of the businesses that closed were clubs and bars and that was due to the cyclical nature of the industry, and poorly run establishments that really weren’t going to last anyway.

    Development along Main street has been a total success. Remember we were in a recession for 8 years, and before that landowners had unrealistic expectations for the value of their land for the first five years.
    I defy anyone to drive down Main Street and question how much improvements and development has occurred.
    Now there are several new skyscrapers, hotels, restaurants, high rise residential development and mixed use residential projects going up as we speak.
    The best example of how the Uptown BRT/rail line would help is in the Medical center.
    They were faced with the same issues. Gridlock, poor circulation and many more people needing to get into the area than could be facilitated. Now the employees of many of the hospitals park in outlying lots along the rail line and they commute in leaving many parking spaces and freeing up the streets for the patients/ customers.
    The same would be the system for Uptown. The park and rides on Katy freeway and 59 would be used for parking and the BRT/Uptown rail line would be the vehicle for the uptown employees to get to work after parking in the commuter lots. This would keep traffic down a little and allow for the customers to come in and take advantage of the area.
    As things stand now and as they get worse which it inevitably will, with the influx of new residents to Houston you won’t even be able to drive in Uptown much less park and shop.
    It will choke on its own success. No one will want to sit in traffic jams all day to shop in Uptown.
    Don’t be on the wrong side of history, and listen to the man who created the galleria in the first place. Gerald Hines is an advocate for mass transit. he knows better.

  • @HonestTruth if trolling, congrats. It’s a good troll. Well thought out but no real purpose to your rambling.

    BRT would be fine, especially if it was a BRT lane that could easily be switched to rail in the future. Additionally, I believe the uptown project is being run by Uptown Development Authority, ie. all of the money in that TIRZ is reinvested in that zone.

    Also, i’m biased. I take a bus to work everyday, so i don’t really think they’re rolling trash cans, but thats just me. I think about all the people that work on post oak, that literally can’t go anywhere for lunch because traffic is so bad. Any solution right now is better than nothing.

  • Like many parts of Houston, Uptown will ultimately choke on its own success. I say leave it alone and let the market dictate. When traffic comes to a standstill on “beautiful” Post Oak, businesses will close anyway because eventually it will suffer from the same “too much traffic and problems parking” syndrome that killed downtown in the 1960s.. They will reap what they have sewn. Their energy would be better used to come up with a way to mitigate the effects of construction and build the best system…..but of course, that would take ACTUAL THINKING…..something that is missing in our business community that only focuses on what’s best for “me”. That is, after all, why they exist in the first place. As for the Red Line and Main St……if you have been in Houston long enough, you will remember that Main St. didn’t have a thriving business community to begin with before rail went in. There was very little to loose. Also, the rampant private sector speculation on land when the Red Line was being developed resulted in land values that were too expensive to develop and rents to high to pay in that existing market. Buildings were bought and emptied in anticipation of redevelopment. Metro really over-sold development potential in the short term.

  • I lost 30 minutes of my life reading the ‘study’. Basically, it is a debate style argument where he throws a bunch of poorly substantiated claims hoping to tip some scale in the reader’s mind towards his argument. He saves the weakest point and most critical issue to page 39 of 41 where he claims METRO’s simulations showing travel time benefits of the project are incorrect. He has no empirical or mathematical support for his claim other than his opinion that METRO’s forecasted ridership looks too high. I don’t know what the basis for METRO’s ridership forecasts are but it seems like they have a track record of being conservative so at the end of the day I think Hamlet summarized this report up by saying, “Words, words, words.”

  • Houstonians simply do not and will not ride the bus at a rate to justify this project. The End.

  • Personally I thought they might try to negotiate the LRT down to BRT, which they did. I also was not surprised when they tried to negotiate “true” BRT (you know what I mean) down to pseudo-dedicated bus lanes. But now they are negotiating it down to literally nothing? To preserve what, exactly?
    Maybe the best thing is to bite the bullet, let them take it down to nil, and then put the LRT right back on the table, making sure it is “shovel ready” for the epic stimulus/spending infrastructure fiscal bill that I am certain is rapidly coming down the pike.

  • I also don’t buy it that one-in-a-million luxury shopping experiences will just be casually eschewed by high street shoppers looking to avoid spending an extra 5 min. in traffic or looking for parking. This is especially true considering many of such shoppers will literally have had spent hours on a plane traveling to Houston to shop.

  • Less than 500? Are you kidding? I’ve been on a #33 post oak bus with 90+ people on it, followed by another bus completely standing room only, and shockingly FULL OF PROFESSIONALS like myself going to their jobs as it makes far more sense than paying $60-90 a month to park in a parking garage. These so called arguments are total nonsense, likely thousands use Metro daily this route is one of the more congested and tardy routes in the city, their on time percentage is one of the lowest due to heavy ridership and traffic. Businesses are xenophobic and paranoid for no other reason than their own personal greed.

  • Y’all need to check out Eugene (Oregon) if you want to see what Post Oak will look like. Las Vegas and Cleveland have BRT, but the lanes are just plain concrete because LV is an arid wasteland and CLE spends half the year buried under lake effect snow. Eugene’s year-round humidity averages slightly higher than Houston’s, so they can run the same grass+wheelpath setup that is planned for Post Oak. It’s damned attractive… moreso than our LRT track slabs.

    Understandably, the upstanding folk of Uptown aren’t going to trumpet the similarities between their bus line and a lefty Oregon college town that reeks of cannabis from three miles away. But that’s what it is. So if you’re anxious about Post Oak, go check out Franklin Boulevard on Google Street View, and have your fears assuaged.

  • Create dedicated lanes that would go unused the vast majority of the time. Brilliant!

  • Giving rail (built between 2001-2004) the credit for the current state of Main St. downtown, which it seems we are limiting to about a 4 block area, fails to account for the fact that Main St. in that area thoroughly sucked between about 2008-2012. For Those with short memories, there was a lot happening downtown before the rail came in, and a lot of it happening on and around Main St. It was a time when even Warren’s (which I realize is not on Main) had to have a doorman for God’s sake.

    The construction of the rail was a fiasco which drove out a number of businesses that were just as the area was getting some traction as a real destination and neighborhood (those of us here at the time will remember all those blue sandwich board signs saying “The Hub is Open!”, etc. that the City gave to those businesses in the hopes people would cross six lanes of mud on a foot wide plank to get there). Shout out to places like NoTsuOh who made it. Once rail was done, the clubs swooped in on the carcass and made it D-Bag zone of the moment until that moved to Washington. Then it sat decrepit until the same kinds of folks who were there pre-2001(Little Dipper, OKRA, Bad News Bar) moved back in because the rents were unbelievably cheap. The crowds are now following.

    Does the completed rail hurt Main St.? Of course not, and neither will a completed bus lane on Post Oak. Does it help those businesses? Maybe marginally. I don’t know who takes the train from their house to businesses on Main. They drive over and park a block away.

    The point is that construction was a disaster and went on in front of those places for years. Hopefully they learned their lesson. As someone mentioned above, the new construction goes in segments and seems to be much better. I think we all agree we don’t want to see the whole of Post Oak look like this….×540.jpg

  • Whatever the pros and cons of this project might be, I can say with certainty that I am stupider for having read that poorly-formatted, gramatically-incorrect “report.”

  • So is it just me, or is most everyone agreeing that rail has been a publicly funded investment for the primary benefit of landowners and those living in the corridor? Tons of other streets in Houston have seen very similar increases in sales and property tax revenues that didn’t require $100MM’s of taxpayer money to fund.
    Topic needs to focus on mobility improvements as I know I certainly don’t like the idea of paying a high sales tax rate for the sole benefit of those living next to Main St. and commuting to the downtown/MC districts. That proves the opposite of the point trying to be made. Someone compile the information and clearly lay out how BRT/rail increases ridership in ways that typical buses can’t.

  • Honest: I take the rail often to med center / herman park area / downtown. I’m just curious why you believe rail is so much better than buses? Once inside, is there really that much of a difference? One is on a track and one isn’t. Beyond that, they have more in common than not.

  • So Metro and Culberson just came to terms. One of these terms is no rail west of Shepherd. I assume this is to protect Uptown from the Downtown riff raff. Shame. That route would be the most useful.

  • “Honest: I take the rail often to med center / herman park area / downtown. I’m just curious why you believe rail is so much better than buses? Once inside, is there really that much of a difference? One is on a track and one isn’t. Beyond that, they have more in common than not.”

    If you frequently take both, you will know there is a huge difference. Trains speed up and slow down smoothly; buses are at the mercy of the driver’s foot. If your driver likes to punch the brake, you are in for a very lurching ride. Other than that, it’s kind of like the difference between flying in your friend’s propeller plane and flying in a Boeing jet. Less shaky, better ride.

  • Please, “it’s kind of like the difference between flying in your friend’s propeller plane and flying in a Boeing jet” That is certainly embellishment. I find trains more palatable myself but I have ridden METRO buses for years (16 +) and also ride a bit on the train. Other than the ease of stepping on and off the train with my bike when I have it, I don’t find the two all that different from a comfort standpoint.

  • Cody: Mass transit consists of much more than buses…there is also park/ride, light rail, commuter rail, subway, etc. Buses already meander thru their various routes in Uptown…more buses (BRT) is not the answer. That’s over-kill, moreover, highly inappropriate. You don’t see ridiculous BRT along Wilshire Blvd from Beverly Hills to Beverly Center…you don’t see it along Michigan Avenue…you don’t see it along Fifth/Madison/Park Avenues. Not that I want Houston to be any place but Houston (we love Houston)…it’s just that Houston can do much much better than BRT for Uptown. Houston owes it to itself to do better than this. No sane community/society would run a parade of nasty belching buses thru their most prestigious district. Only in Houston would such a piss-poor idea be proposed. And it must be defeated. Contemporary sleek modern light rail would be awesome for Post Oak/Uptown…or run it under Post Oak as a subway (giving us transit on and under Post Oak). But BRT along Post Oak and Uptown is #BadNews.

  • @ Honest Truth: Have you actually been on Michigan Ave.? Buses everywhere!

  • Mike: I don’t take both to be honest. I only take rail as that serves me pretty well for when I don’t feel like putting up with traffic or parking. I’d rather take rail than a bus but I think that’s more of a mental hangup that most people have. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with admitting that.
    Honest: What if the buses were new/modern and electric or NG?

  • I just spent $200 at lunch on Post Oak. I don’t think I saw one bus rider in the place eating.

  • @ Local Planner What do you mean buses everywhere…do you mean BRT everywhere on Michigan Ave. (Chicago)? If so, you’re incorrect. There is no BRT on Michigan Ave., Wilshire Blvd, or Fifth/Madison/Park Aves. I assure you of that, having spent a great deal of time in each related city at each place. Those prestigious districts have bus service just like Uptown. But unlike Uptown, those prestigious districts also have rail as an alternative, which greatly helps lessen traffic congestion in those busy districts….not more buses (BRT).

  • Honest Truth: Wilshire misses Beverly Center by a half-mile, but it does have BRT – the 720. Beverly Center itself also has BRT, the 705 on La Cienega. LA is probably the most BRT-centric city in the US right now, even if their implementation doesn’t quite measure up to our Central and South American neighbors (e.g. Bogota, Curitiba, et al).

  • Cody: It’s not about whether the buses are new/modern and electric or NG…Houston has some of those, and some nasty ones too. It’s about Houston needing more alternative modes not more buses (BRT). Rail moves more people, more efficiently. MetroRail will be very successful in Uptown…much more successful than ridiculous BRT. Socially, rail has a universal appeal. Buses, not so much. Take New York for example, people from ALL walks of life use rail in NY: the student, the billionaire, the thug, the tourist, the poor/middle-class/rich/wealthy, the homeless man, the police, the millionaire, the bag lady, the executive, the socialite, security, the mayor, etc…everybody uses the rail either regularly, frequently or from time to time, because it’s efficient, effective, and convenient…much more than BRT. Buses do not have the same appeal, at all. Many of the same people won’t go near a bus. Lynn Wyatt, Becca Thrash, and Diane Lokey Farb wouldn’t touch a bus, but have surely used rail before in NY…who hasn’t? Similarly, the University line along Richmond to Uptown along Post Oak (essentially connecting Downtown to Uptown) has a universal appeal that BRT can’t match. I can imagine ‘ladies who lunch’ taking MetroRail from the Galleria station in front of Neiman Marcus, 2 or 3 stops to Uptown Park for lunch and more shopping…I can imagine Uptown executives taking MetroRail Downtown for a meeting…I can imagine the convenience of living Downtown and working Uptown and vice-versa, and using MetroRail to commute. But I can’t imagine such with ridiculous waste-of-money BRT.

  • @purple city – I’ve been to LA many, many, many times and the buses are rolling trash cans. You are lucky not to get mugged waiting for one. How many women feel safe riding the train out there? Great place to get robbed.

  • Purple City: I understand all that, but what LA has is not akin to what they’re trying to foist onto Post Oak. The plans, especially design, are much different…not the same and not good for this prestigious district. Perhaps elsewhere in Houston, not Uptown. Moreover, LA also has extensive light rail and subway. Houston, not so much. Again, it’s an increase in alternative modes that’s needed in Houston, not more of the same…in the wrong place.

  • @ Honest: So having regular buses everywhere in a fancy district is just fine, but BRT (especially as nicely streetscaped as what the Uptown District proposes) is somehow…mortifying? I’m having trouble seeing your logic here. Regarding “sleekness” you do realize that BRT vehicles can look just like trains, except without rails and the overhead wire?

    @ lhd: Given that the BRT is primarily for commuting outer suburbanites, who definitely don’t tend to be poor, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a bus rider eating lunch in a nice Uptown restaurant, provided that you actually implemented good quality commuter bus service.

  • BRT is not the same as a city bus. If you’re in Boston ride the Silver Line sometime – it’s slick, fast, and convenient. Years ago there was an endless fight about how some of the then low-income areas along its route felt like they were getting 2nd class treatment getting BRT instead of a regular light rail or subway, but if you look at how it worked out, it’s excellent.

    But let’s face it, Uptown wants to provide the minimum transit for the help to get there and the assumption is anybody not driving shouldn’t be there. I work in that area, if it is a Houston “masterpiece” it’s of the dystopian variety.

  • The biggest difference with rail and buses is that the rail comes really regularly. if the train is supposed to stop every 6 minutes, I see a train every 5-8 minutes. buses, there is less regularity than, well, there isn’t much that is less regular than a bus. if the schedule says every 15 minutes, you can count on it being there somewhere around 20-40 minutes. after the last bus pulls away.
    buses skip stops, trains don’t.
    buses will go different routes when the driver feels like it, trains don’t.
    yes, I’ve seen plenty of this happen.

  • @Honest Truth,
    So you’re saying we need to build more rail so that the wealthy socialites won’t have to sit in the nasty buses where the dirty poor people have sat? Got it. Well, at least you’re honest.
    Something tells me that those socialites are being driven everywhere in private cars anyway.
    Buses are simply cheaper to operate, faster to implement, and more flexible than light rail. If you need to change a bus route, you just do it. Put up temporary signage until the permanent signs come in, notify people via social media, and you’re done. If you need to change a rail line, good luck with that; it takes a referendum and years of construction.
    Most of the places in Houston where people want rail to run already have buses, and the people who moan about a lack of transportation aren’t riding them. We shouldn’t be wasting money on rail until there is proven demand, proven by buses that are crammed full to standing room only of the sort of people who clamor for rail.

  • Honest Truth has it wrong regarding the University Line serving Uptown. For at least the last ten years the plan has been for all U-Line LRVs to continue to Hillcroft TC, with Post Oak being a separate line. The most recent schematic track alignment at Post Oak/Westpark doesn’t even allow for Greenway-to-Uptown without reversing direction. To get from Downtown to Uptown on LRT you would need to transfer *twice* – Red Line from Downtown to Wheeler, U-Line from Wheeler to Bellaire TC, Uptown Line from Bellaire TC to Uptown.
    Contrast this with a BRT guideway. With BRT, you could conceivably run the plan I suggested to Christof two years ago; have every other BRT skip Northwest TC / Hempstead and instead scoot in on Woodway/Memorial. Downtown to Uptown, direct, door to door… in comfortable seats. Let’s see your light rail do *that*.

  • GoogleMaster: No, you’ve misunderstood. Re-read it in its ENTIRETY for comprehension and understanding. I believe it said ALL walks of life…not just the socialite.

  • @Honest Truth,
    I did read in its entirety. That’s how I encountered the bit about “Buses do not have the same appeal, at all. Many of the same people won’t go near a bus. Lynn Wyatt, Becca Thrash, and Diane Lokey Farb wouldn’t touch a bus…”
    The three ladies you mentioned are certainly socialites, and presumably wealthy as well, by parentage or marriage or both. And it sure sounds as though you’re arguing for rail for the reason that people don’t want to ride the buses.
    In my mind, “I don’t wanna” isn’t a good enough reason to spend all that money.

  • Purple City: It’s the Uptown Line I’m referring to along Richmond and Post Oak. That should clarify it for you.

  • Honest Truth: At no point does the Uptown line operate along Richmond. It *crosses* Richmond, at a near right angle, near the Chick-Fil-A.

  • Purple City: If it *crosses* Richmond it’s, in effect, *operating* there. But why are you trying to argue over irrelevant semantics. Everybody else understands. What’s your problem? I don’t argue with contentious people (fools). I could argue with you that the line does in fact operate on Richmond because it *crosses* it…but that would be petty irrelevant semantics. Fools and children do that. I don’t.

  • GoogleMaster: Right, “in your mind.” Fair enough. That’s what’s in your mind. But in my mind, you’ve got a bad understanding. We’re both right.

  • I’m joining this discussion pretty late, but a key thing that seems to be missing from ( many) people’s understanding here is that the BRT line along Post Oak is conceived as a way to more swiftly transport suburban communters into the Uptown/Galleria area. It joins together the Northwest Transit Center and a not yet built Westpark Transit Center that would be termination points for Park and Ride buses coming in from Cypress, Katy, and Missouri City. Then those riders would then board a BRT bus that travels up and down Post Oak to get to their office. I haven’t read anything that says METRO is planning regular bus routes from Acres Homes, or Gulfton, or the Fifth Ward into Uptown. So those scary poor people will not be inundating the Hermes store, or trying to eat at Caracol. Nor would it transport River Oaks matrons to Neiman Marcus. At the end of the day, it’s not the worst idea of getting suburbanites to ditch their cars and commute in on the Park and Ride coaches. I do think the price is pretty steep, considering the reconstruction of IAH Terminal B two years ago came in at just under $150 million. It seems METRO pays a helluva lot for concrete in this town.

  • These –ahem– studies are the standard fare trotted out by those who think busses and mass transit going through their neighborhoods will wreak all kinds of disruptive havoc (that’s code for “we don’t want those ‘other’ people here.) They forget that there are plenty of low-wage workers already in the area (who’s cleaning those office buildings, BTW ? — as just one example.) and mass transit generally meets their needs. The middle class — if the use Metro at all — generally don’t spend much time on the regular routes and confine most of their trips to the Park n Rides, with the occasional business type on the rails, but usually only during office hours. These so-called “studies,” are not studies in any legitimate academic sense. They’re just a platform for racial ranting dressed up an civic concern, with some statistics cobbled together and tossed in to give it the sheen of professionalism and disguise their true stance. Ug.

  • Honest Truth: Your post from May 19, 2015 at 9:13 pm refers to “the University line along Richmond to Uptown along Post Oak (essentially connecting Downtown to Uptown).”
    Far from semantics, this demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of METRO’s rail plans. There will be no train connecting Downtown to Uptown. There may be a train connecting Midtown with a sea of cheap apartment complexes including none other than the world-renowned LANTERN VILLAGE. Your hypothetical racist upper-class lady will not ride this train, because the riders west of Timmons will look like the type of people who live in Gulfton and Sharpstown garden apartment complexes.

  • Downtown Chicago is well served by buses, commuter rail and the El, but the Michigan Avenue shopping district which is basically analogous to Post Oak is pretty much served by bus only . (I grew up in the south suburbs and I’ve worked on North LSD and in River North.)