The Rent-to-School-Rating Correlation; Metro’s Wish List


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14 Comment

  • Re: Metro’s Project List Includes 90A Rail Line, Airport Rail Service, etc.
    It is nice to hear that Metro has finally woken up from its 13-year nap (since the 2003 referendum) to realize that commuter rail and service to one/both airports may be a good thing.
    It is regrettable that they didn’t start this project 5 years ago so that we might have finished the airport rail in time for the second Super Bowl to be held in this city. (First one was done in time for the 2004 Wardrobe Malfunction Super Bowl.)

  • Metro has a bus to the airport, though calling it ‘express’ seems a bit of a stretch. I assume it runs on the HOV lane and is not often stuck in traffic. However trains are much sexier and more attractive to the upper- and chattering classes. They also get to spent billions of dollars in other people’s money, an irresistible prospect.

  • I am pretty sure that NYC had naysayers when they proposed their first subways …. now look at them.

  • I look anxiously to the day I can look out my window on Post Oak Boulevard and watch the empty busses drive down what was once a tree filled median.

  • Rail transit to airports has generally been a loser. TCRP studies have shown that tthose connections carry a vanishingly small percentage of airline passengers and that the vast majority of users are airport employees who formerly road a bus to the airport.

  • I tend to agree. Airport rail, while it sounds good in theory, may not be the best approach in practice, especially given the existing parking infrastructure at IAH. It is just too convenient to park in Covered Parking at EcoPark, especially if you’re with luggage. Instead of this approach, I’d suggest that a higher priority gets placed on enhancing our ‘grid pattern public transport’. An idea to do exactly this was floated some months ago and advocated the joining of our Red Line light rail with the galleria via Westheimer using BRT on a dedicated lane. It would be tight, but it could be made to work I believe. That then frees resources for a public-private partnerships to address commuter transportation options from the suburbs to the inner-loop. Examples of this could be a possible 90A rail line to Missouri City and/or a rail to Katy on the existing Westpark Tollway easement.

  • The way I remember it, Metro didn’t “wake up from a 13-year-nap” — they basically blew their whole capital budget building the stunted rail system we have now. We’d be in a much better position if we had built out lower-cost bus rapid transit instead to cover more of the city. One of the best things to come out of last year’s bus system reimagining was Metro’s 160/161/162 frequent express service that connects downtown to Memorial City. We should have more service like that connecting Houston’s scattered activity centers together.

  • I don’t see how airport rail would be any more successful than the former airport express bus from downtown, which was shutdown due to low ridership even after they cut the fare from $13 to $4.50 each way.

  • The New Metro will continue to make the same mistakes regarding rail. The two new east lines, Purple and Green, seem to be a waste. I ride them occasionally and the trains are nearly empty. The lines don’t serve any density areas outside of the CBD and UH. If the Purple Line could revitalize the area surrounding UH, it would it’s saving grace. But, I haven’t seen a significant amount of rejuvenation adjacent to the light rail.

    Metro will spend millions on studies and drag their feet on this commuter line. They’ve had their chances elsewhere, 290 and I-10, but did not take the opportunity. All it takes is a politician to torpedo a rail project. Thanks Bob Lanier, Tom DeLay and John Culberson for hampering Houston’s rail plans.

  • Quantum, the rail access to the airport is not for locals, but for those visiting town. Lack of rail access to the Galleria, downtown, or the Med Center from the airport is unbelievable to me. Most get rental cars as a taxi from the airport cost about the same as a day or two of a rental. Uber may have changed this, though.

    It takes time (a decade or two) for the rail projects to revitalize an area. See Wilson & Clarendon Blvds in Arlington, VA. They were lined with used car dealerships until about the time the DC metro hit its 25th birthday.

  • qqq, thanks for the reply. I believe that bus from the airport would serve visitors to our city well, if it is well designed. Let me explain. Consider, for example, the bus from Montreal’s Pierre Trudeau airport into the city. This is a great transportation system and I believe it’s worth noting why it’s a great system. I’d argue that its strengths are: (1) the information desks inside the airport pointing tourists to where they can purchase their fare card and board the bus, (2) the high frequency of bus departures, (3) the ‘express’ route into the city, (4) the strategic stops in the city, and (5) the price. A frequent bus from IAH or Hobby into Houston stopping only at the Galleria, Med Center, Downtown transit center, and some Downtown hotels may do the trick. Rail from the airport would be good as well, like the RER in Paris or the BART in San Francisco, but it would be very expensive to build. In short, I guess I’m proposing a less expensive alternative that has frequent service, runs in dedicated lanes, and provides good service.

  • The area around UH is seeing a lot of development action, though it falls under radar of this audience: Aspen Heights, Village at Palm Center, new public library branch, several other UH residential projects. So I think the purple line will accompany development in this area.

  • @ qqq: If it takes 25 years for fixed-guideway transit to influence development patterns and generate transit-oriented development, then one has to consider a counterfactual scenario. What would’ve happened without the transit being there? Was the neighborhood simply in the path of development? Would the municipality have been subject to the same forces of demand and simply used *their* zoning policy (which Houston can’t do) into whatever happened to have been the most convenient place for it? What was the *net* benefit? I think that if you start asking questions like that, then the effectiveness of public transportation as a policy tool to influence land use patterns becomes a rather specious prospect.
    You have to ask the same questions about Midtown in Houston, I think. Midtown was already getting multifamily mid-rises before the light rail was installed, and for years development occurred along both sides of the light rail without actually being light-rail-adjacent. More recently, land in Midtown became more scarce and what some people are calling transit-oriented development has finally come to Main Street. But was that something that happened because of rail, incidentally, or perhaps even *despite it*? The empirical evidence isn’t perfectly clear, but doesn’t strongly support an argument that the Red Line caused TOD in Midtown. (However, you could easily argue that the Red Line caused TOD in the central business district.)
    Likewise, with the area around UH. It has to be borne in mind that UH is in the middle of a strategic expansion. The student body at it’s main campus is at about 43,000 students now, up from about 33,000 fifteen years ago. They’ve also been very actively pushing the on-campus housing, trying to make their satellite campuses and UH-D into their catch-all commuter-schools. The neighborhoods nearby were undoubtedly going to feel the effect, and besides that were going to be squeezed by gentrification to their west and the recent boom years more generally. Actually though, I would imagine that that will have a deleterious effect on ridership figures. Rice University has never been a major contributor to ridership on the Red Line; but the high rate of transit ridership that comes out of really poor minority neighborhoods is quite important to METRO and was critical to the Purple Line having received any federal funding at all.

  • Another GREAT study correlating that people with more money live in nicer areas! Groundbreaking stuff. Makes you wonder, if you live closer to the sun, will you be hotter?