Monday, July 03, 2017

DART eviscerated, tolls vs sprawl, transit apocalypse, build the Ike Dike, top rankings, and more

After my last post which included problems with DART, a reader sent me this Dallas Observer story that's even more damning of the utter failure of DARTs commuter light rail strategy while subtly endorsing Houston METRO's approach:
"Since the founding of DART in 1983, the city has been shackled to the suburbs in the creation of what has become the nation’s dumbest mass-transit system
Instead of investing money where it could actually make a difference — in the dense, urban core where people might be talked out of their cars — DART has spent billions of tax dollars building a kind of amusement park ride. DART has squandered our resources and our time building a slow-poke, light rail, surface-running system that screws up traffic, takes forever, attracts miserably few riders and, as a result, operates at an ungodly subsidy. Its real purpose has been to serve as an amenity and sales-pitch bauble for suburban apartment developers. ... 
DART, as presently constituted and designed, is a massive failure that sucks up scarce resources we need to spend on smarter things. If DART were a horse, we'd shoot it."
Wow. Doesn't hold back and tells it like it is! It's not all good news for METRO though - scroll down to some of the graph stats that are not so great.

In other news, I find it amusing that anti-toll forces have joined with anti-sprawl forces to oppose new suburban toll roads, like the extension of 249 past Tomball.  In theory, anti-sprawl forces should vigorously support toll roads because they better price somebody's decision to live far out and commute in.  The problem with the anti-sprawlers is that they realize even fully priced with toll roads, people prefer affordable suburban living and will still live out there, so they prefer to kill the roads by any means necessary, even if that means aligning with the anti-toll people, who want the road, they just want it to be free (the opposite of what the anti-sprawlers want!).  The unfortunate bottom line is that the anti-toll crowd has gotten politically powerful enough the politicians have to go with it, but TXDoT and rational officials realize it's not toll vs. no-toll, it's toll vs. no-road, so they're going to keep building them because they keep filling up with demand as fast as they're built!

After yet another story arguing transportation costs should be included in defining affordable housing based on the flawed stat of income percentage spent (i.e. pro-density+transit, anti-suburbs+cars; also here), I posted a comment that got enough up-votes to be the top response:
"Isn't the more likely explanation that people who spend a lot on housing don't have much money leftover for transportation? And those who do have affordable suburban houses have plenty to spend on high-end vehicles? Is it really fair to say a suburban house has a "high cost of transportation" because people are buying high-end trucks, SUVs, mini-vans, and luxury cars, when they just as easily could buy a cheap used Honda Civic or Toyota Prius if they were really concerned with keeping their transportation costs low?"
Moving on to make a dent in the huge backlog of smaller items to share...
"Boasting affordable living costs and a large number of incubators, Houston takes the title as the number one best city for minority entrepreneurs. The city has one of the most diverse populations and its bustling startup scene is full of minority-owned business ventures. It also comes in fourth place for the most economic opportunities for minorities."
Finally, from the Thrillist list of Totally Underappreciated Cities You Should Move To:
Houston, Texas
Texas' most underrated big city does almost everything right.
City population: 2,167,988
Cost of living index: 90 (10% lower than US average)
If you lament your city's poor planning, crumbling infrastructure, and careless corporate community, look to America's fourth-largest city for examples of how all that should be done. Not gonna lie: The traffic can be a drag, and the swampy summers are a slog. But overall Houston has its shit together better than any city its size.
Even though the oil industry isn't the king it once was, health care, construction, education, and tourism are bringing people to Houston by the tens of thousands. With them have come new sports stadiums, new neighborhoods like the artsy EaDo or the hipster-historic Montrose, and a worldly food scene that extends waaaay beyond the usual barbecue and Tex-Mex (though, obviously, both of those are great too). Through public-private partnerships, Houston has developed America's premier museum district, plus stunning urban green spaces like the 160-acre Buffalo Bayou Park, and it's only adding each year. In terms of perceived "coolness," H-Town is still in Austin's overinflated shadow, but in a state this hot, the shade is a pretty good place to be. Improving quality of life while still rapidly growing? Take notes, Austin. -- M.M.

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At 9:32 AM, July 04, 2017, Blogger George Rogers said...

#1 most joyous large OECD City to travel to, take that Paris.

At 9:34 AM, July 04, 2017, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Yes! Lol. Although I have to wonder a bit about any list that has frigid Newfoundland #1... ;-)

At 10:07 AM, July 04, 2017, Blogger George Rogers said...

Visit in the summer.

At 8:41 AM, July 08, 2017, Blogger George Rogers said... Be thankful Houston is not a touristy city.

At 8:45 AM, July 08, 2017, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I saw that! What a mess.


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