Monday, December 12, 2011

290 rail, IAH A380, city GDP, H-town Hackerspace, K12's future, and more

OK, the smaller miscellaneous items just keep stacking up:
  • Check out TX/RX Labs, Houston's Hackerspace.  I just think it's awesome that Houston has something like this.  Very cool and expanding fast.
  • Peter Wang writes about a nightmare traffic experience at CityCentre for a holiday party, noting that New Urbanist/"Livable Center" developments in Houston will still need to accommodate large volumes of cars at peak periods since we just don't move that many people by foot, bike, or transit (like classic "old urbanist" cities would).
  • IAH is getting Airbus A380 service, and is just the sixth U.S. city to do so!  (on Lufthansa from their Frankfurt hub) I remember meeting an airport official a few years back that was skeptical about IAH getting A380 service (or, more importantly, needing to pay big $ to upgrade the airport to accommodate it), but I think the global energy boom is changing the equation.
  • Don't hold your breath on 290 commuter rail says Bill King after a thorough analysis.  Here are the scary numbers:
"But even taking the report's ridership projections at face value, the real stumbling block to this project is the cost. Without the link to downtown, the start-up capital costs are estimated to be $290 million, with an annual operating cost of more than $6 million. This equals a capital cost of $96,000 per rider and an annual operating cost of more than $2,000 per rider, a level that is clearly not viable
If one assumes that somehow the inevitable neighborhood opposition to an extension through the Heights could be overcome, and a link to downtown completed, the report projects the total capital costs would be $544 million with annual operating costs of $21 million. This would still be about $50,000 in capital costs and more than $2,000 in annual operating costs per rider."
"Metro service today has 5-minute intervals between buses and goes nonstop to downtown. The proposed commuter rail line would have 20-minute intervals and stop at 10 stations, then require a transfer to a bus to get downtown."
  • A WSJ profile of the world's most fabulous airport in Singapore, including rooftop pool, butterfly garden, and tons of other amenities.  IAH, take notes if you want to be the hub of choice for international travelers...
  • Houston is the country's #5 metro in terms of GDP at $379B, behind NYC, LA, Chicago, and DC, but ahead of SF, Dallas, Boston, Philly and Atlanta.  That makes *just our city* the 31st-largest economy in the world and larger than Austria, Argentina, or South Africa.
  • Forbes “Best State for Business” pegs Texas at No. 6, but No. 1 in the economic climate category.
  • If you want to understand the high-tech future of K-12 education, read this book.  Short, quick, easy read, but one that will amaze you with the potential revolution.  It even has a book jacket endorsement from HISD superintendent Terry Grier (but don't let that stop you if you're not a fan of his).  I plan on doing a future post with a more detailed book review, but wanted to get it out there now in case anybody's looking for a little holiday reading material for when you're traveling or stuck at the in-laws'...  ;-)

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At 3:13 AM, December 13, 2011, Blogger Rail Claimore said...

This was meant to be posted here instead of in your last post, sorry about that. If you can delete my comment in the previous post, that would be great.

ATL will be the 7th airport to get A380 service (or 7th market, as I think both JFK and EWR are getting A380 service for the NY market). They're extending their longest runway to accommodate it, and the new international terminal opening up this spring is built for it. Supposedly AF and KE want to serve ATL with the 380, and that makes sense considering both airlines are Skyteam partners with DL and already have 2X daily service to the city.

This will mean that all 7 of the biggest international passenger markets in the US will have A380 service, which makes total sense.

At 7:39 AM, December 13, 2011, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

My understanding is that EWR can't handle the A380, and even if they paid to make all of the upgrades, it would cause such a ground disruption in such tight spaces that they've decided it's not worth it (they being the Port Authority, which figures JFK is enough). Of course then you get the problem of UA/CO's EWR hub can't connect to Star Alliance partner Lufthansa's A380. EWR is also an airport with a huge need to maximize the passengers per plane, which is exactly what the A380 was designed for.

I had originally heard ATL wasn't interested in making the upgrades either, but I guess they changed their mind.

I'm surprised no O'Hare service.

At 10:52 AM, December 13, 2011, Anonymous awp said...

Re: City Centre,

The story there boils down to "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded". How is it any different than going to any commercial center during the holidays? The only difference is that you would have to walk across a mile of pavement instead of taking an elevator and walking through a relatively pleasant faux town scape.
Having said that City Center is pretty bad at traffic management on their little quarter mile main drag. Most of the problems are caused by inconsiderate fools who stop in the middle of the road for five-ten minutes to pick up and drop off passengers.
On the other hand both garages are easily accessible to the Freeways and each other without going through that cluster that is the main drag. It is always a pain in the ass to go to shopping centers during the holidays if you don't know the shortcuts and the areas/entrances to avoid.
And finally traffic/parking design shouldn't necessarily be only concerned about the absolute peak of travel/parking demand. It is a tradeoff, traffic/parking infrastructure is expensive and has large opportunity cost in the other possible uses for the land.

At 2:46 AM, December 14, 2011, Blogger Rail Claimore said...

ORD will be getting service after the runway re-aligment project is complete. They're building the first A380 compatible runway right now, should open late 2012 or early 2013.

At 12:31 PM, December 22, 2011, Anonymous Mike said...

You have no idea how satisfying it is that we are economically more significant than Austria. If you've ever been to Austria, they make the people of Austin look humble. They think that the same conditions that produced Mozart produced them. The Viennese boast about their quality of life rankings and tell you facts about Vienna as though you should be taking notes as to what any city should do that wants to be civilized. The Salzburgers act as though Vienna is an unfortunate compromise with the rest of the world. They hate the fact that The Sound of Music was filmed there, since it's so culturally inferior, and will pretend they haven't seen it. If you speak German to them, they will look at you as if they don't understand what you're saying. I could go on...


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