Thursday, December 07, 2006

HOV-to-HOT, St. Arnold goes to Austin, and cool stat maps

Time again to pass along the smaller miscellaneous items. These should give you a few interesting reads and things to do over the weekend.
  • Christof has a couple excellent new posts at his blog on Houston's recently completed and very effective HOV lane network, and a followup post on the conversion going forward to HOT lanes, with some concerns (that I share) about how that conversion is done, and a call to action. As I've said before, express bus/van service is far faster and more cost effective than commuter rail in a city of multiple job centers like Houston. Here's one excerpt in particular I liked on HOV buses:
"Those buses — one of the best suburban commuter transit systems in the country — carry about 40,000 people on an average weekday. Non-METRO buses (Woodlands Express, Trek, and intercity services), vanpools, and carpools carry another 80,000. That’s a total of 120,000 daily trips, roughly the same as 24 freeway lanes.

The HOV lanes started as an experiment. Now they’re an established part of Houston’s transportation system. They’ve also helped shape the city: the additional people-moving capacity into Downtown has helped keep Downtown competitive as an employment center (while Post Oak, which is is not as well served and much more congested, hasn’t seen a new office building since the 1980s). The HOVs have also boosted transit use: the HOV lane buses account for 15% of METRO’s ridership, and 40% of Downtown employees take transit."
  • Evan and Kuff are promoting a new blog advocating state law changes to make microbreweries easier in Texas, since 14 of 19 started so far have failed. They're really just looking for the same treatment as micro-wineries, which seems eminently reasonable to me. USA Today recently listed St. Arnold's in Houston as one of ten great microbreweries to visit in the nation.
  • Finally, a real fun time-waster for your Friday afternoon: Neighboroo, which overlays all kinds of statistics on Google Maps, complete with fly around and zoom-in capability. Note the links on the left to choose your stat. Hit the Air Quality link, for instance, and you'll see that Houston is far from alone in its pollution problems. Hit the Home Price, Tax Rates, or Cost of Living links and be thankful you live in Texas. Fun for hours, depending on how many cities you want to zoom in on with different stats. Thanks to Christof for the link.
Have a great weekend.


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