Sunday, February 15, 2015

Texas is America's America, what stupid rail looks like, Millenials love the city and the suburbs, and more

This weeks misc items:
"Transit agencies are spending millions of dollars on new rail infrastructure that is no faster than existing bus service, simply because riders perceive a train as better than a bus. 
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed AirTrain link from La Guardia Airport in New York could be the latest example. It might cost $450 million or it might be more like $1 billion — the M.T.A. head Tom Prendergast wavered between the figures in a public hearing last month — but either way, from most places in New York City, it won’t be faster than taking existing bus service to the airport, because it will run southeast from the airport, away from Manhattan. 
In California, Bay Area Rapid Transit spent nearly half a billion dollars to build a three-mile rail connector to the airport in Oakland, which opened last year; it saves about 3,000 daily riders four minutes over the shuttle bus service it replaced. Atlanta’s downtown streetcar loop was a relative bargain at $100 million; unfortunately, Rebecca Burns, a writer at Atlanta magazine, took it to work for a week and found it was slower than walking. Washington’s shiny new streetcars, expected to serve 1,500 riders a day along H Street Northeast, are slowing the bus service that already serves 12,000 daily riders on that road."
"But in my mind, the biggest asset of Texas is Texans. Having spent a great deal a time there, the contrasts with my adopted home state of California are remarkable. No businessperson I spoke to in Houston or Dallas is even remotely contemplating a move elsewhere; Houstonians often brag about how they survived the ‘80s bust, wearing those hard times as a badge of honor. 
To be sure, Texans can be obnoxiously arrogant about their state, and have a peculiar talent for a kind of braggadocio that drives other Americans a bit crazy. But they are also our greatest regional asset, the one big state where America remains America, if only more so."
"Most Americans are happy with their commutes and would be willing to trade off even longer commutes in order to live in more desirable housing, according to a survey by YouGov. Moreover, the detailed results indicate that these preferences are almost as strong among 18-29 year olds as among older age classes. "
  • Citing county growth, Emmett seeks 'new model of urban governance'.  He raises a lot of good issues in his annual State of the County speech.  He also reiterated support for the ULI Astrodome plan, details of which are supposed to come out in a report soon.  They're hopeful it can be at least partially ready for the 2017 Super Bowl at Reliant, which is aggressive but would be awesome. 
Finally in the funny-but-kinda-pathetic media department, this short piece by Outside magazine on the Astrodome plan.  First, it claims the plan is by "Texas environmentalists" when it was a national Urban Land Institute panel.  Later, it mentions city councilors being split on the plan, when it has nothing to do with the City of Houston - it will be decided by Harris County Commissioners Court.  But then there's the real gem: "Voters narrowly rejected a 2013 referendum to convert the stadium into a convention center, largely due to a $217 billion bond price tag." Lol! Yep, our plan was to spend the equivalent of half of the national defense budget on revamping the dome!  That would be over $48,000 per citizen of the county! (think it would involve a tax increase?) As much as I'd like to see that plan (which I'm assuming involved a new solid gold coating), even I'd vote against that one!  Do they even have editors over there?  Or writers that do any fact checking at all?

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At 6:26 PM, February 15, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any poll that says 59% of people enjoy their commute should be viewed as dubious at best and misleading at worst. Typical antiplanner drivel.

At 2:10 AM, March 13, 2015, Blogger Tony said...

i'm seeing lots of pieces rationalizing against the public good and for private, developer self-interest.

population densification by definition means rail mass transit becomes increasingly logical, cost-worthy, and necessary as a transportation option. unfortunately, the selfish needs of private interests who can never imagine rubbing elbows with a patron of public transportation seem to take precedence. this needs to end.

At 3:00 PM, March 13, 2015, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Take a hard look at the economics of rail - it almost never makes sense, especially in a decentralized city of multiple job centers like Houston.

At 1:31 AM, July 06, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Houston grows and , if we had a rail line, more development along a rail line could occur, if the rail line was privately built and, it would be an option to developers, companies and employees to build/locate and use the rail , and them , if the business is still a distance for walking, possibly a company bus or van to their company's building from the nearest rail station could be implemented. What we need is an option as the population grows. It is not a panacea but it is , in my opinion the quickest, most efficient way to move a great amount of people the greatest distance, as opposed to a bus. As more traffic problems occur, after a few years, those people driving the roads will seek out another option , if offered to them , and, if the option is safe from tension and harassment. The influx of street people taking the rail and depositing /loitering in groups around the rail stations and business /retail venues is the drawback of a public rail system ie Atlanta's Marta. Everywhere that Marta goes, the environment of the rail station and immediate environment changes for the worse...... If the Houston rail does not cater or pick up in areas of inner city poverty , but is created to transport suburban workers to core urban nodes, ie Galleria, Downtown , Midtown , Medical Center and connect from the main heavy rail to light rail to the airports, we'd have a class A rail system. The inner city population could still be served by better bus routes but , in all honesty, people of different economic backgrounds should not have to suffer the social tension encountered in a public rail system or waiting for a train and be harassed by a homeless person or a street thug. That's what I have encountered each time I attempt to take the Metro rail in Houston. Privately owned rail would work

At 1:38 AM, July 06, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, because we have decentralized urban areas of Houston , we should connect them or allow access to them with connecting rail as if they were one big unified area connected by a unified rail system. The Galleria is already inaccessible with nightmarish congestion , and, the most ridiculous thing about it is that more developers are seeking to plant their mega skyscrapers on Post Oak, where more businesses seek to locate , instead of downtown, which creates intolerable driving conditions for their employees and creates a lesser quality of life. No one can admit to wanting to drive to the Galleria area during work hours because that's the American way of doing things. We're going to be losing businesses from companies that want a better quality of life , not a worse one , by locating away from the Galleria. And rapid transit, rail ,privately owned, is the only way out of this.

At 12:58 PM, August 07, 2017, Anonymous Mike Chirlston said...

Houston is a great place. I have had the pleasure of visiting to go stand up paddle boarding and there are some lovely locations. Great people.


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