Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Are we the new "It" city? cars shorten commutes, our donut problem, and more

"The metro areas that form the twin pillars of America's knowledge-energy economy continue to rise and prosper, according to new figures on economic growth released this week from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. According to the data, which measured economic output as gross domestic product (GDP), the energy hub of greater Houston showed the fastest growth in terms of economic output last year, while the Silicon Valley tech hub of greater San Jose came in second.
...
Also troubling, the nation’s three largest metro economies all registered below average growth: New York saw a growth rate of 1.0 percent (220th of all metros); L.A had a growth rate of 1.2 percent (204th); and Chicago clocked in at 1.3 percent (201st)."
  • Aaron Renn on the "new donut" in cities with a healthy inner core and outer ring, but a very weak middle ring.  Houston most definitely has a very big issue with this.
  • Mimi Schwartz with Conde Naste Traveler asks "Is Houston the New "It" City?" I'd like to think this blog played at least a very small part in building up our city's self-confidence over the last 9 years.  My favorite excerpts:
"Thirty years ago, the idea of hiring a firm from a smaller city for such a big project would have been akin to wearing a dress made by a seamstress in Lubbock to the opening of the opera. It might work, but then again it might not, and the potential for humiliation wasn’t worth the risk. Now, the fear of humiliation is gone: The award-winning Lake/Flato was simply the firm that best understood the local culture and had the right aesthetic. 
It is this self-confidence that probably surprises visitors most. No one in Houston thought it was particularly remarkable that in 2010 it elected the first lesbian mayor in the country: Annise Parker had been in public office for more than a decade.
...
What may be best about Houston, though, is what hasn’t changed over the years. Its passion and respect for eccentricity remains: An inner-city cottage covered entirely in beer cans is now protected by a nonprofit foundation, and there is even a move afoot to save the Astrodome from the wrecking ball, despite the fact that the world’s first domed stadium long ago outlived its usefulness."
"Dallas-Fort Worth is the best performing U.S. city between 5 million and 10 million population, at 26 minutes. Travel time in Houston, Miami and Philadelphia is almost as short, at 27 minutes. Only the Germany’s Ruhr Valley (Essen-Duisburg-Dortmund) does better than these cities, at 24 minutes. Hong Kong’s travel time is the longest in this population category, at 46 minutes. This may be surprising, since in many ways Hong Kong conforms to current urban planning ideals. It is the densest urban area in the high income world and the largest transit work trip market share.
...
Despite the hostility of planners toward the automobile, the secret lies in automobile access. Generally, automobiles are faster than other modes, such as transit, walking and cycling for trips of the lengths required in modern metropolitan areas. The U.S. also has more dispersed (decentralized) employment, which increases access and shortens travel times. Only 8 percent of major metropolitan area employment is in the downtown areas (central business districts) in U.S. cities."

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5 Comments:

At 10:07 PM, October 05, 2014, Anonymous Rich Robins said...

Dallas commuter times are the best in the nation? Perhaps it's not unrelated to how DFW also has the nation's largest light rail system?

http://www.dart.org/maps/printrailmap.asp

Miami and Philadelphia also do well on that front. Houston's gaining ground:

http://www.gometrorail.org/go/doc/2491/1323787/System-Map

but we need to see about bringing down the cost of light rail expansion per mile. $100 million per mile is exorbitant, and reportedly not in line with more affordable prices in (for example) Eastern Europe.

 
At 10:14 PM, October 05, 2014, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I think in Dallas it's more related to their dispersed job centers than light rail. NYC and Chicago have far more rail, but longer commute times.

 
At 12:40 PM, October 13, 2014, Anonymous Rich Robins said...

Hi Torry:
I had read that DFW has the nation's largest rail system. Perhaps that's excluding subways, which might account for how you're reporting that NYC and Chicago have more rail than DFW?

At any rate, the latest metro rail expansion release delays and cost overruns are making me increasingly want jitney buses to become legalized throughout Houston (instead of merely Washington Avenue). More on that in a more recent post.

 
At 2:16 PM, October 13, 2014, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Yeah, I think they ahve the largest *light rail* system - definitely not more than NYC or Chicago heavy rail.

Jitneys are allowed now in Houston under narrow circumstances. The Wave has expanded beyond Washington. I'd certainly like to see them expand more. Uber and Lyft will be a big boost too.

 
At 11:16 AM, November 12, 2014, Anonymous Larry Morris said...

The rail use in Dallas is actually lower than the national average according to the US Census statistics:

www.towncharts.com/Texas/Economy/Dallas-city-TX-Economy-data.html#Figure24

 

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