Tuesday, June 18, 2019

MetroNext kudos and tensions, HTX traffic is better than you'd expect, road diets kill businesses, the aging affordable housing pipeline, and more

Before getting to this week's items, some thoughts on last week's MetroNext board workshop I attended (presentation slides here).  First off, kudos to Metro (and Chair Carrin Patman) for sticking to its guns on the value of BRT over LRT.  They can build three miles of BRT for the cost of one mile of LRT, getting more service to more areas more quickly and cost-effectively.  People keep asking for fantasyland LRT service everywhere without understanding the economic tradeoffs, and it's good to see Metro have the backbone to say no.

As Dug's Chronicle story mentioned, there was tension on the Hobby line routing between the board and Houston City Councilmember Gallegos.  He doesn't want it to come down 75th Street even though that's the most efficient routing with the best service, including bringing people to a renovated Mason Park (he's worried about right-of-way loss, which Metro thinks would be absolutely minimal if any).  He's insisting on a longer routing that hits the new botanic gardens but misses shopping and restaurants of Gulfgate, which I guarantee generates 100x the trips the botanic garden does. How often do you eat or shop vs. go to tourist attractions? (probably in about the same proportion as you go to work vs. go to the airport!)  Metro's plan includes an autonomous shuttle that would run from a stop near Reveille and Telephone along Sims Bayou to offer connectivity to the botanic gardens at Glenbrook Park, which I think could be an attraction in itself.  It makes total sense.

Moving on to this week's items:
"There’s room for a new politics that recognizes that the path to actual social justice lies primarily in expanding opportunities for a broad range of jobs and housing options. But this can only be done by confronting the current approach to social justice that results in conditions demonstrably unjust."
"The new TomTom Traffic Index puts Houston at No. 204 globally and No. 18 nationally for traffic congestion, as well as No. 2 in Texas.  
In Houston, drivers spent an average of 23 percent extra travel time stuck in traffic last year, according to TomTom. The worst day in 2018 for traffic congestion in Houston: October 31 (44 percent). The best: Christmas Day (1 percent)."

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