Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Global and racial Houston, top rankings, good govt, healthy housing, and more

Another week to clear out the rapidly growing list of smaller items:
"Sometimes it’s hard to remember what good government looks like: government that disciplines itself but looks to the long term; government that inspires trust; government that promotes social mobility without busting the budget."
"Zachary Neal found that although America's largest cities once had the most sophisticated economies, today that honor goes to cities with many connections to other places, regardless of their size... The rise of commercial aviation, high-speed rail, the Internet and other technological advances have allowed smaller cities to compete with urban powers such as New York and Chicago, Neal said."
And finally, kudos to the Houston 311 service line, especially the traffic light synchronization group.  Lately I've put in a couple requests to them that have been fixed very quickly, with very professional and friendly follow-up phone calls explaining what was found and fixed.  Color me impressed.

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At 10:03 PM, September 28, 2010, Blogger Alon Levy said...

The Austin commuter line sucks in more ways than speed. Even the local nobody-ever-rides-buses blogger, M1EK, thinks it's stupid; he'll tell you an urban light rail version would've worked much better, but was overruled for political reasons.

At 8:07 AM, September 29, 2010, Blogger M1EK said...

Alon, that's a ridiculous characterization of me - you'd know that if you'd ever bothered to read my blog.

The point I make on HT is that you can't attract significant numbers of choice commuters with more buses -- at least, not more such people than you already have (as long as you don't have trivially low levels of service). It's a constant struggle for light rail to argue against the "well, why don't you just run more buses to show us there's demand for rail" argument; which is where this comes from; but...

I do have a whole category on my blog sarcastically called "Empty Buses".


At 5:35 PM, September 29, 2010, Blogger Alon Levy said...

I don't think it's ridiculous. You have repeatedly said that buses can't attract choice commuters and light rail can.

But that's not the point. The point is that the Austin commuter rail is horrific and should not be taken as a data point arguing that buses are better than trains.

At 9:18 PM, September 29, 2010, Blogger M1EK said...

No, Alon, I've said if you want to attract new riders, it's going to take trains - in most US cities anyways. Existing bus lines obviously have tons of riders - a few even choice commuters; but most of the people who would be willing to ride buses are already doing so, save degenerate headways in some spots.

And even taking your more recent formulation, "choice commuters won't ride buses" is still a long ways from "nobody ever rides buses".

At 2:30 PM, September 30, 2010, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I think Houston has shown, very successfully, that choice riders will ride park-and-ride express HOV buses for their work commutes.

At 8:43 AM, October 01, 2010, Blogger M1EK said...

Tory, that's a very small subset of bus services - and the same thing is true here, for a limited subset of choice riders (those who have expensive or inconvenient parking - i.e., their choice to drive isn't as easy as it is for most of us).

The people making the bus vs. rail argument in most other places Alon has seen me argue back are arguing for normal city buses or at best BRT (not express-direct like in Houston or Austin but rather buses with varying degrees of priority that operate stops along their whole route).


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