Monday, April 05, 2010

Tripling the value of the Clear Lake Metro Park-and-Ride

I know I've been a little thin on new content recently, something I hope to rectify soon.  In the meantime, here is a small new 'strategy' for Houston Metro: move the Clear Lake P&R lot from Bay Area Blvd. to the Space Center Houston parking lots.

Here are the benefits:
  • Express commuter buses could now carry passengers both ways with NASA employees and contractors that live up in Houston doing the reverse commute.  They could walk to the NASA campus easily from Space Center Houston (or even take the Rocket Park trams).
  • Tourists to Houston would be able to access our #1 attraction with a single express bus ride to/from downtown (or maybe even Uptown and/or TMC).  This is especially helpful to convention and business travelers that may not rent a car.  And the increase in tourism traffic may also be incentive for Space Center Houston to offer the use of the lot to Metro at substantially discounted or even free rates.
  • Space Center Houston has plenty of empty parking on weekdays *and* has plenty of land for expansion to the west (and some to the east).  From the satellite map it looks like it might even be an expansion vs. the existing Bay Area P&R.  Here's an aerial view of the Space Center Houston parking lot, and here's one for the existing Bay Area P&R lot (use the zoom out button for a better view).
  • It's right where the NASA 1 Bypass freeway spur ends for fast access to/from I45.
  • The Bay Area P&R land could be sold off for a tidy sum.
I think it could be a big boost for the route, commuters, NASA, and Houston tourism.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

UPDATE 6/8/15: Another benefit - how about connecting here to Galveston on Island Transit?

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At 10:58 AM, April 05, 2010, Anonymous !!Dean said...

The downside to parking lots are that they generate heat and contribute to water runoff, two of Houston's most well known issues. So Houston would be wise to avoid building excess parking by implementing ideas like this that re-use (or time-share) big parking lots.

However, in this instance it might be wise to have the bus stop at both parking lots. The google map shows the current BAP&R lot is roughly 80% full (who knows how many years old this picture is). In the coming years as traffic worsens and population increases more people will choose to use P&R. Also, some fraction of people will be more likely to ride a P&R bus once the expansion light rail lines come online and the rail network reaches more destinations.

At 11:18 AM, April 05, 2010, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

That is a good point that, depending on demand, it might make sense to have two P&R lots out there. And I totally agree on reusing existing parking lots.

At 11:40 AM, April 05, 2010, Anonymous Tracy Bush said...

Very good idea. Hopefully the bypass connection to 45 North will be finished soon to fully help your idea. There is a large mixed use development in Nassau Bay that would benefit as well.

At 11:42 AM, April 05, 2010, Anonymous kjb434 said...

Google aerial images for Houston are never more than 2 years old and generally not more than 1. Comprehensive aerial coverage of the region (HGAC area) is done ever year in the Fall/Winter period. Aerials are processed and made available the the next Spring.

The other big advantage to the the Space Center parking lot is that it has good access to the NASA Road 1 Bypass which can cut off some time from buses having to run down busy surface streets.

At 3:28 PM, April 05, 2010, Blogger JC said...

The availability of reverse poutes on the Park-and-Ride could make this thing happen. The fallacy that everyone lives in the suburbs and works downtown still has the transit planning folks in its grasp.

At 4:03 PM, April 05, 2010, Anonymous Andrew said...

Great idea Tory!

I think - as you've mentioned before - the best logical extension of this idea would be to focus on making hubs at key destinations throughout the region and offering express bus service between the hubs. The space center is one of the most obvious prime locations for such a hub.

At 7:03 PM, April 05, 2010, Blogger Alon Levy said...

Moving the park and ride should be a no-brainer. I'm not sure about having buses stop at two park and rides - if it involves a major detour, or if it requires splitting the route into separate Space Center and Bay Area buses, it might actually cut ridership.

At 10:44 PM, April 08, 2010, Anonymous Evan said...

Tory for Council!


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