07/21/14 1:30pm

Light Rail Station at Palm Transit Center, Houston

There’s still “some uncertainty” over the exact schedule, but all the pieces needed to allow Metro to open Houston’s second and third light-rail lines won’t be in place until late December, according to reports delivered to a committee of the transportation organization’s board of directors last Friday. Previously, an opening date sometime this fall had been projected for the Southeast and East End lines (though the far eastern end of the East End line won’t come on line until a newly planned overpass is built under over the Union Pacific East Belt freight rail line between the future Altic and Cesar Chavez stations). Delays in the delivery of trains aren’t the sole reason for the late openings, however.

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Waiting for the Trains
12/18/13 12:45pm

Installation of Red Line Signage, Preston Station, Main St. Line, Houston

For 10 years, you’ve known it as Houston’s only light-rail line, so what did it matter that we called the Main St. line? But in advance of 2 separate advance lines opening up next year, it’s got a color too: The Red Line. You can see workers installing signage with the “Red Line” designation in the photo above. When was that photo taken?

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Metro’s New Colors
11/05/13 3:45pm

There’s been a Metro train siting at the new Quitman station of the North Line extension, just south of the train’s turnoff from North Main, reader Joel Balderas reports. Unlike earlier appearances, the train appears to be operating under its own power. Here’s the photo evidence:

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07/24/13 10:00am

WHY NOT BANISH CARS FROM MAIN ST.? Monday morning’s fatal collision between the bicycling Rice University architecture student and a southbound Metro train seems to have occasioned the folks at Houston Tomorrow to wonder at the best uses for Main St.: Blogger Kyle Nielsen shows — with a rented B-Cycle and a tape measure — how little room there is for a motorist to give a “vulnerable road user” the 3 ft. now required by the city for “safe passing” and suggests that the Downtown corridor should be closed off, once and for all, to traffic: “It seems to me that it would enhance cyclist and pedestrian safety, encourage the type of walkable retail and bars/restaurants that Downtown needs, decrease motorist frustration at being stuck behind a bicycle, and enhance motorist and transit safety by eliminating the motorist [illegal] left turns that still hit the Metro rail cars sporadically.” [Houston Tomorrow; previously on Swamplot] Photo: kylejack

06/12/13 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE TRAIN WILL GET YOU TO THE AIRPORTS — SOMEDAY “Rail to Hobby and IAH is still in the long term plan, though, given the uncertainties of funding, there’s no way anyone can give a date. Hobby is likely first in line, since it’s closer and there’s a lot more population nearby that would also benefit from the connection. And the first step is there — get on Harrisburg at the end of the east end line and just stay on the same lane and you’ll end up at the Hobby Airport parking garage.” [Christof Spieler, commenting on What Southwest Wants To Make Hobby Airport Look Like]

05/28/13 5:15pm

The very first train graced the tracks of the North Line light rail extension earlier today — though this was only a test, says Metro’s Christof Spieler. That explains why you can’t see in this photo taken near the Burnett Transit Center north of Downtown any overhead wires — the train was being towed by a diesel tractor. (Diesel tractor not pictured.) And it explains why you can see that foam bumper: That, says Spieler, was meant to catch anything built too close to the tracks. More test train should be running all by themselves this fall, he adds, and full service is scheduled to go in December.

Photo: Christof Spieler via Swamplot inbox

04/25/13 3:45pm

METRO’S NEW TRIP-PLANNING APP You can now download T.R.I.P., a trip-planning app that’s all Metro’s own. The Write on Metro blog first mentioned the app in October 2011, reporting that a launch was expected later that winter. Of course, that delay isn’t mentioned in today’s press release announcing that the Transit Route Information and Planning app, a screenshot of which is shown here, is up and running, ready to provide schedule and route information based on the user’s location, predict “to within 3 minutes” arrivals of the next bus or train, and generate routes. And it’s free. [Write on Metro; Ride Metro]

11/19/12 2:55pm

It’s either a store with small display cases or a home with really big curio cabinets. Fully-fenced and mostly burglar-barred, the shape-shifting property fronts the rebuilt roadway and drainage improvements of Fulton Street in Pine Grove, east of I-45. Metro’s Red Line extension plans its future Northline Transit Center just past Crosstimbers, 3 blocks north of the storefront-residence. Earlier this week, the mixed-use property reappeared in the MLS listings with a new agency and price, $99,900, after a 2-month market breather. That’s about twice the price of its sale for $45,500 in 2009 — but significantly lower than the $135,000 sought in a year-long listing that expired down a bit ($124,900) just this past September.

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10/15/12 5:06pm

NEW METRO TRAINS GETTING BIKE RACKS Metro is showing off the first of 19 new California-made Siemens H2 S70 trains it’ll be adding to its light-rail fleet. The first new cars in 9 years are updated versions of the line’s original 18-member fleet, with one notable difference: Metro will be outfitting them with 2 bicycle racks each, at the front and rear doorways. Photo: Metro

10/01/12 9:34am

Courtesy of a reader wielding a camera along Harrisburg Blvd., here’s a tour of a few standout elements you can expect to encounter in a stroll along the path of Houston’s new East End light-rail line, now that sidewalk coordination work between CenterPoint Energy, Metro, and the Greater East End Management District has been completed.

“Most of the poles,” the reader reports, “are now in the center of the sidewalk leaving 24 inches to squeeze by on either side.” Or maybe a bit more:

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09/07/12 9:30pm

A SPECIAL KIND OF LIMBO FOR METRO’S UNIVERSITY LINE Have plans for a light-rail line along Westpark and Richmond from Hillcroft to Eastwood been dealt a deathblow? In a story aired this evening, Ted Oberg claims Metro “recently took that project off the table” — and that “nothing will be built until at least 2025 if Metro gets its way.” But transit agency spokesperson Jerome Gray says the patient is still alive: “The Metro Board has not scrapped plans for the University Line,” he tells Swamplot. “While work has slowed down Metro has not pulled this project out of its rail expansion program. . . . Metro will proceed with rail expansion as funds become available.” [abc13] Map: Metro

08/28/12 11:22am

How far along is construction on the 3 rail lines Metro is building? A little more than a year ago, HAIF user ricco67 took a video camera along on drives following the paths of each soon-to-be rail route, and posted the results. With the completion of a video taken alongside the East End Line construction from Downtown to the Magnolia Transit Center posted yesterday (above), you can now spot-check progress in updated tours of each of them.

Ricco67′s update showing construction on the Southeast Line dates from last month:

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07/05/12 10:49pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: LIGHT RAIL FOR THE PEOPLE “One very interesting upshot to delaying Uptown and University is that it heads the ‘LRT is elitist’ argument off at the pass. If you open the E, SE, and N lines without Uptown and University then you’ve just created an LRT system that predominantly serves black and hispanic neighborhoods. Possibly the first such new-start system ever built in [the US and Canada]. Opposition to the ‘white man’s train,’ whether it takes a grassroots, Los Angeles Bus Rider’s Union form, or whether it’s simply a talking point for people who will always think rail is a ‘boondoggle,’ is thus impossible. Considering that H-town will be minority-majority by the 2020 census, I think it’s kinda cool. And I’m an elitist white dude.” [KHH, commenting on Light Rail Scorecard: 6 Miles Down, 9 To Go, Culberson Blocking Goal]

07/02/12 5:07pm

LIGHT RAIL SCORECARD: 6 MILES DOWN, 9 TO GO, CULBERSON BLOCKING GOAL Metro says it’s now laid 6 miles of track for the 3 light-rail lines its working on — the new East End and Southeast Lines and the North Line extension. And construction is now under way on 10 of 24 new stations. All is on track for a 2014 opening date, including $200 million of federal funds for 2 of those lines, approved by a vote in the House of Representatives last Friday. Also approved within the same bill, though: Congressman John Culberson’s ban on federal funding for both the Uptown Line and the long-delayed University Line. A House-Senate conference committee will determine if the funding block remains in the bill’s final version. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Metro