Missouri City Rail Route: To Bellfort or Not To Bellfort?

A public meeting at the Together We Stand Christian Church tonight is the third of 4 Metro has scheduled to discuss the possible route of a new 9-mile light-rail leg connecting Missouri City to the southernmost stop on the existing light-rail line, roughly paralleling US Route 90A. Metro isn’t anticipating construction of the extension before 2017, but there are a couple of kinks to consider: The main difference between the 2 route alternatives being considered is the northeast end of the journey. The first alternative (above) jogs off 90A to follow Bellfort into the existing Fannin South rail station, while the second (below) takes the Holmes Rd. route in:


Both alternatives include an optional jaunt up Hillcroft and along Airport, and both of them show stations at the Chimney Rock and Post Oak intersections. Trains running on the line would continue to Wheeler Station in Midtown.

Maps: Metro

21 Comment

  • As I recall, the plan calls for the line to run on the already present commercial line. This will cause the train to have to wait for and share the track with freight trains, which do not run on a schedule. The consequence of this plan is that the train passengers will not be able to rely on the train to get them anywhere on time. This experiment has already failed on the Sunset Limited Amtrack lines in Mississippi. It ended post-Katrina after serving many years as a unridden money pit for the state.

  • Ben recalls incorrectly. This proposed line would run on completely new track, though largely parallel to the existing Union Pacific railroad adjacent to US 90A. Light rail vehicles cannot operate on freight rail track– freight trains are self-powered while light rail vehicle are powered by overhead lines.

  • Interesting, going to Bellfort might generate more ridership.

    I hope that METRO puts all of their resources into constructing the University and Uptown Lines before this line though.

  • Freight trains DO run on schedules.

  • Greg – I’m happy to hear the plans changed. When I first heard about this in a HGAC meeting about 5 years ago the plan was to share the line.

  • Pye – google seems to think freight trains DO NOT run on schedules http://www.google.com/search?q=freight+train+schedules&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari
    I love you for commenting though.

  • I am all for more light rail, but light rail works best on shorter routes. Wouldn’t a line to Missouri City be a better fit for commuter (heavy) rail? Light rail shouldn’t venture all the way out to the Beltway and beyond. It’s why I’d support a line to Hobby but not one to IAH.

  • They’re using the light rail car so they can travel right into the med center. It’s a result of all the comments from last years public meetings where people wanted that instead of having to transfer at Fannin South. I’m impressed they’re actually going all the way up to Wheeler station w/o a transfer.

    I live off of S. Post oak so as happy as i am to have a rail stop within walk or quick bike ride i think less stops between Missouri City and the med center would make more sense. if they keep the light rail cars then maybe as the area builds up they can have express services vs one that makes more stops.

  • I’ve ridden the DART train from Plano to downtown Dallas on a few occassions, and loved it. If we had a choo-choo train like that, I might be willing to move to the ‘burbs (might). A light rail line to Missouri City is a fantastic idea… and a line to Katy and the Woodlands and Humble and Pearland should follow suit. As for a line to IAH? It is a big “no duh”- there should absolutely be a light rail line each of the two airports to eachother and to downtown.

  • I’m down in Westbury having abandoned Montrose and this line would be a boon for this area – and for me! Overall it would provoke a tremendous boost to the area. Remember that Metro already has a “test” line that approaches the area. The right of way is there, but ignore that kink onto W. Airport – just do the main line! Ridership would be tremendous coming out of Westbury!

  • @mel – I’m sure METRO would love to accommodate your commuter rail wishes, if you’d just contribute the necessary $3 billion dollars or so to make it happen.

  • this would be wonderful if it happens. the light rail would actually get used by people other than vagrants and Reliant Stadium spectators. i suspect that there would not be enough capacity in the trains to handle all the peak ridership comfortably, but that’s a good problem to have and we can deal with it then.

  • And we all know that google and yahoo and wikipedia are always right.

  • htownproud, you can’t be too proud of your city with comments like these “this would be wonderful if it happens. the light rail would actually get used by people other than vagrants and Reliant Stadium spectators.” I’m sure there are quite a few people in the Med Center would take issue with you calling them vagrants and spectators after all the schoolwork they’ve done to practice medicine. You speak like someone that has never set foot on the train.

  • #11, we collect tolls to pay for roads… why not do the same for a danged train! I want a commuter rail, lots of commuter rails, and am willing to pay my part. Even if I never actually use it (I doubt that my part of town will ever get a commuter line), the city will benefit.

  • Mel,

    If you really want to pay, be prepared to pay way more per trip than you do on a toll road. Possibly $50-$60 for a round trip per day. There is a reason why rail is subsidized on an order of magnitude larger than ANY road or airline.

    Greg and Ben,

    You are both correct. The original plan was a heavy commuter rail to use the existing tract. Our freight rail system is way too busy and does run on a schedule. It’s not a set schedule like a commuter rail would. It’s a planned schedule based on planned shipments from the paying freight customers. Toyota does have a set schedule for shipping vehicles out of San Antonio to the Port of Houston to overseas. They do have planned deliveries to a cargo ship that the freight rail puts on their calendar. Yes, freight rail is scheduled and it will always get priority because the rail lines make more money through freight.

    The rail companies in the Houston region have established standards for commuter rail in the region that METRO has to abide by if they want to use existing lines or build parallel lines. The standards are extremely stringent and essentially make commuter rail a dead project.

    METRO is saying that public comment is reason they are switching to a light rail on it’s own system, but it’s really the rail companies giving the middle finger to METRO because they have no interest wasting their capacity for commuter rails. They already have to accommodate the horrible system that is Amtrak.

    Also, the only reason it ends in Missouri City is because they can’t build past this location in Fort Bend County.

  • kjb434,

    Sorry, but what you said is false. Roads are subsidized far more than rail. In fact, most of the Interstate System is 100% subsidized. So explain to me how can rail be more than 100% subsidized?

    Also, where are you getting that $40-$50 number? Because rail requires less operating subsidy than buses, that is a fact.

  • mfastx,

    What you fail to see is that what is moved on those roads per dollar spent makes the tax payers cost well worth it.

    Passenger rail could never move the amount of people that a roadway can. Freight rail has minimum subsidizing mainly paying the private rail companies to get AmTrak on the lines.

  • Is the plan for the city to eminent domain the houses that back right up to the current train when you get down to Hillcroft at South Main/90A?

  • kjb434,

    I still fail to see where you get the $40-$50 number? I don’t understand that analysis.

    That’s fine and I agree with subsidizing highways as much as we do, if not more.

    But I am in favor of subsidizing public transportation as well, as I believe that a good public transportation system helps the city to function better. In my point of view the 1 cent tax is worth it.

  • mfastx, I believe what the previous poster was trying to get at was that if you measure the cost of building a mile of freeway or rail and divide by the number of people that mode transports per day, you can get a comparison cost to the taxpayer. If a freeway costs $25 million a mile to build, yet is used by 175K cars and trucks daily, that is less costly then building rail for say $5 million a mile but having only 6000 people ride it each day.
    I do get upset that IIRC, Metro once owned the right of way along with the freight rail tracks along the Katy Freeway and along Westpark that were ripped out in the last decade. They allowed TXDot to rip out those rails, and expand these roads, leaving no room for future expansion of commuter rail along these routes. That I consider shortsighted.
    Of course, there is always the rumor that for it’s part in chipping in to expand the Katy, Metro required all the overpasses to be engineered to hold the weight of trains should they ever wish to run heavy rail down the current HOV lanes.