Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ride transit for better hurricane preparedness?

Just wanted to pass along this email from a reader. The Hurricane Dean track forecasts from Drudge seem to indicate we're pretty safe for now, but better safe than sorry. Maybe a good opportunity to try out our extensive express HOV bus options for your commute?

Dear Mr. Gattis,

I wanted to let you know something about what's happening up here in Spring, Texas as a result of the threat of Hurricane Dean. I'm writing to you at 5:00 p.m., Saturday, 8/18/2007. Please be advised that Gasoline stations are already beginning to run short of fuel. My daughter who just left for Kerville for colllege tells me that some stations on FM 2920 are already out of fuel. As well, there has already been a run on the local Grocery stores and our Kroger is out of bottled water.

Based upon our experience during Hurricane Rita, this situation will only worsen during the coming week. Spring/Klein, as your well aware, are far enough north of the Gulf to be mostly safe during a Hurricane and many of us will not be subject to evacuation. However, the shortages will play havoc with gas supplies, water and hurricane preparedness materials and just getting to work this coming week could stretch our dwindling resources.

As a service to your readers and my neighbors, I wanted to remind everyone that as supplies tighten, they might want to consider transportation alternatives for the comming week, if for nothing else but to save gas.

For those living in the general Spring/Klein area, the 204 Park and Ride offers regular service between Spring and Downtown. Those living on the west side of I-45 will find the Kuykendal Park n' Ride convenient and for Humble/Kingwood riders, there is the Townsend Park n'ride. All three locations have buses leaving at 6:00 a.m. Also, the Kuykendahl Park n' ride has the 283 bus which goes to the Galeria area. For those living closer to the Spring Park n' Ride who need to get to places in West Houston, they can transfer to numerous buses from Downtown that go to the Galeria, the Medical Center and points west. For more information, you might want to direct readers to;

I mention this because saving gas and keeping our vehicles safe for the next few days might be very critical. I would add that I know from reading your blog that safety has become a concern of late. All of the Park n' Rides have Metro police watching the lots; Spring and Kuykendahl are limited access and are regularly patroled. As for ticket information, you might want to double check my information, but it used to be the case that people could buy tickets at local Kroger stores. Also, many local employers sell bus passes at a discount so people might want to check with their employers.

Have a great day,
Ed Travis

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At 3:10 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Michael said...

Interesting article today on MSN:>1=10341

Included in this article:
- Houston is one of few cities where commute takes up more than 20% of household costs
- Houston has 63 hours of annual delay per traveler
- Also discusses trade offs of housing versus transportation costs

And the article has a comparison of the transit strategies of Houston vs. Dallas:

"That's what's happening in Dallas. It and Houston have 15% of the country's fastest-growing suburbs between them. Dallas is investing $4.86 billion to expand its commuter rail system, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), which services area suburbs and neighboring Fort Worth. The job is expected to be completed in 2013, and local economists say the city should reap $8.1 billion in increased economic activity over the life of the project. Houston, on the other hand, mainly has focused on road construction and expansion, which isn't expected to pay off as well.

"To say DART Rail's impact has been substantial for the Dallas region's economy would be an understatement," says Bernard Weinstein, an economist at the University of North Texas Center for Economic Development. "It's a trend that's impossible to miss; the local business community certainly hasn't."

At 4:37 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Yeah, they ripped this up on HAIF already:

At 4:43 PM, August 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I call BS on that!

Houston already has an extension commuter system that has some very high ridership numbers. It's a little thing we called a dedicated HOV lane. The function like commuter rail but are much more flexible.

Once the HOT lane configuration is completed on the Katy and future 290 expansion, bus commuter system will be more efficient on those corridors.

I guess since our bus isn't fixed on some type of metal rail, it doesn't count as a commuter system.

At 5:38 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Michael said...

KJB and Tory,

Agree that buses help, as I've said before. But the article still reflects poorly on Houston. And "rip it up" on HAIF? I don't see much worth commenting on there - maybe I missed it. Traffic and commuting in Houston stinks - as the article points out.

If I were the average Joe contemplating a move, I would look at this and say "Hmm, Houston, LA, DC, have bad traffic and high commuting costs". I would say "I am going to lose about 2-3 days per year sitting in traffic". I would probably not realize that Houston has the best bus HOV network in the country, because that is not something other cities use much. That is sort of like saying Houston is a great hockey town because of the Aeros - yeah - they are great, but the IHL is not the NHL. Perception is important, and Houston takes a beating in these types of articles. And, for the most part, deservedly so - no matter how you slice it, we are not too far off from being another LA. And LA is a traffic nightmare.

If I were weighing Dallas versus Houston on transportation - all other things being equal - I would certainly favor Dallas.

At 6:18 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I wrote a long comment, which Blogger lost as I submitted it while they were under maintenance. Arg. Short version:
-commute costs are voluntary because depreciation is the driver, and people could choose to buy cheaper cars (like a Honda Civic or Toyota Prius) to cut their costs in half or more.
-average commutes are longer in transit cities
-we can avoid becoming LA by investing in transportation infrastructure like freeways, which they have failed to do
-people are voting with their feet and moving to sunbelt cities with limited rail transit.

At 7:17 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Michael said...


With all due respect, how has LA not invested in its freeway infrasture? Their highways are 20 lanes, etc.

I consider LA the poster-child for the limits of highway development.

And people are voting with their feet for a variety of reasons, including affordable housing and air-conditioning. Transit is just one factor.


At 9:50 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

The 20 lane ones are in Orange County, not LA - where they have relatively few lanes that are very narrow, I can tell you from personal experience. MaxConcrete can tell you how much of their freeway master plan got canceled - it was very substantial.


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