Sunday, June 03, 2012

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.
  • Texas dominates the Forbes list of best cities for jobs.  Houston is #2 behind Austin.
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..."


At 1:51 PM, June 04, 2012, Anonymous awp said...

Adaptive cruise control will not do that much to reduce congestion as long as the drivers are still in control of lane changes. I would bet the reduction in congestion quoted assumes that away.

At 3:27 PM, June 06, 2012, Anonymous Mike said...

What's missing from this is the story of how leaders of Pasadena, Deer Park, and LaPorte secretly met in Dallas (in the 1960's?) to orchestrate a plan whereby the three cities would simultaneously incorporate, thereby in one fell swoop cutting off Houston's access to the industrial area along the Ship Channel without it being able to retaliate with extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, the related plan to built the Austadena Superhighway, whereby one could drive from Pasadena to Austin on a giant bridge without having to go through Houston never came to fruition.

At 3:19 PM, June 08, 2012, Blogger Anphang said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:21 PM, June 08, 2012, Anonymous Anphang said...

I love that youtube video! Yet another thing Houston's done that I wish Austin would do, too...

Between that, Megabus, and adaptive cruise control (is it just me, or is that what they're going to call autopilot with the driver still fully liable for any damages?), it's enough to feel actual progress addressing our infrastructure issues! Good links, good links.


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