Congestion solution, TX Megabus, annexation history, top rankings
Some smaller misc items to share this week:
Finally! Luxury inter-city bus company MegaBus is coming to the Texas Triangle, with service from Houston to Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Galveston, and New Orleans. They pick up right at Polk and Travis downtown. I do think they're making one mistake, though. On the Dallas route, they need a pickup-dropoff point on the far north side (maybe The Woodlands mall or Greenspoint mall?), and on the Austin and San Antonio routes, they need one on the far west side (maybe Katy Mills mall or City Centre?). People living on that side of town don't want to come all the way downtown to just turn around and go the opposite direction, whether picking up or dropping off.
On the NYT list of 32 innovations that will change your tomorrow, Houston's biggest need is definitely #6, widespread adaptive cruise control. Simulations indicate that once 25% of cars have it, congestion could be reduced 20-40%!! That is an incredible improvement, and imagine what it might be once most cars have it?
Heck, there may even be a national cost-benefit case for the feds requiring it just like they do for the CAFE standards (in terms of time and gas saved). It's possible to imagine that Houston may have far less traffic congestion by the beginning of the next decade even without much in the way of substantial capacity improvements, which, sadly, may very well be the case with TXDoT's budget straight-jacket.
Instead of government, the big drivers of growth now appear to be three basic sectors: energy, technology and, most welcome all, manufacturing. Energy-rich Texas cities dominate our list — the state has added some 200,000 generally high-paying oil and gas jobs over the past decade — but Texas is also leading in industrial job growth, technology and services. In first place in our ranking of the 65 largest metropolitan areas is Austin, which has logged strong growth in manufacturing, technology-related employment and business services. Houston places second, Fort Worth fourth, and Dallas-Plano-Irving sixth. Another energy capital, Oklahoma City, ranks 10th, while resurgent New Orleans-Metairie places 13th among the largest metro areas.
Finally, embedded below is a pretty cool history of Houston annexation video. I laughed out loud so hard at the 1836 map note "the freeway network is for reference purposes only - it did not exist at the time." Revised Houston history: "the Allen Brothers discovered the confluence of 3 bayous and a mysterious network of roads created by an ancient civilization (or aliens?), and decided it seemed like a good place to found a city... even though they recognized the long-term inadequacy of the 290 corridor..."
Social Systems Architect, consultant and entrepreneur with a genuine love of my hometown and its people. I cover a wide range of topics in this blog - including transportation, transit, economic development, quality-of-life, city identity, and development and land-use regulations - and have published numerous Houston Chronicle op-eds on these topics. I also co-authored the Opportunity Urbanism study with noted urbanist Joel Kotkin and others, creating a city philosophy around upward social mobility for all citizens as an alternative to the popular smart growth, new urbanism, and creative class movements. I am a native Houstonian, 6th-generation Texan, attended Rice University for my BSEE and MBA, and a former McKinsey consultant and adjunct faculty member with Leadership Houston. I am currently the founder of Coached Schooling, pioneering a transformational new approach for a more effective and engaging 21st-century K-12 education combining the best elements of eLearning, home and traditional schooling. CONTACT EMAIL in no-spam format: tgattis (at) pdq.net - send me an email if you would like to receive these posts via email, or see the Google Groups signup box below.