Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A simple reasonable home elevation standard, Houston's coolest map, amazing Harvey graphics, DFW+CA rail fails, algorithmic zoning insanity, and more

Before getting to this week's smaller items, two more important items:

First, a random idea on the city's proposed and controversial 500yr + 2ft housing elevation standard, which may raise housing costs substantially in those areas while also devaluing existing housing stock and make neighborhoods look like Galveston beach houses on stilts, even if they've never flooded: why not just make Harvey the standard, since it is a multi-thousand year storm? Don't build anything that would have flooded during Harvey, or any of our other major flood events.  Show that your development wouldn't have flooded, and you're good to go.  Keeps elevations reasonable, especially in areas that didn't flood.  Simple standard, simply enforced.

Second, a bit of a yellow flag from a recent High Capacity Transit task force meeting.  Check out the 17:30 point in the Service concepts video where they aim for an 8-fold increase (from 87 million to 758 million) in transit usage by 2045, with a transit market share increase from 2 to 20% (!). Pretty darn ambitious. I have to wonder where that's realistically coming from, since Dallas, LA and others are losing overall ridership, and that decline may accelerate with coming autonomous ride share technology. I'm skeptical (especially if the assumption is rail), but looking forward to learning more over time and understanding the model.  Maybe this is the potential of MaX Lanes?!  If it's based on solid assumptions, it would certainly be amazing, and something no other American city is doing. Hat tip to Oscar.

Moving on to this week's items:
"That means that the loss in bus ridership was nearly nine times greater than the gain in rail ridership."
Finally, ending with a fun item.  I recently purchased this totally awesome 3D laser-etched multi-layer wood chart of the Houston-Galveston area at an art shop in the New Orleans' French Quarter.  Super-cool and a steal at only $298 (order it online here).  And I don't get a commission - I just think it's cool.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 15, 2018

My interview on Houston's transportation future, our traffic is better and housing more affordable than you think, and more

Apologies for going almost a month without a new post.  The big new item is my interview with KPRC Channel 2 on Houston’s transportation future that finally aired this week, promoting MaX Lanes of course.  I start at the 2:29 point after Kyle Shelton from the Kinder Institute at Rice. On camera is not my strength, but I think it came out ok.  Oddly, they also included a separate 5m video with my complete raw interview (including some stuff that honestly should be outtakes), but the benefit is it includes many more of my points, as awkward as it is.  It was quite loud next to the freeway, and they were yelling questions from a good distance away.  Kyle also has his 26m raw interview video where he makes some great points.

Ok, getting to the backlog of smaller items:
"Any rail system we build will not stop at the corner of McKinney and Main," said Metro board member Christof Spieler. "We are talking about a service that is better than commuter rail."
"Eventually, driverless cars are going to completely replace transit. Until that happens, it makes sense to only spend money on transit buses, which are inexpensive, flexible, can start new service tomorrow, and don’t require 30 years of debt payments. That’s a lesson most major American cities have yet to learn."
"You Can Build Your Way out of Congestion 
Los Angeles is still the most congested urban area in the world, according to the latest INRIX traffic scorecard. However, what is more interesting is that congestion seems to be declining in several fast-growing cities in Texas, thanks to construction of new highways
Dallas is twice as big as Seattle and Houston is three times as big. The Dallas and Houston urban areas are both growing nearly twice as fast as Seattle’s, but Seattle is concentrating its growth in the city while Dallas and Houston allow more people to settle in the suburbs. INRIX found that congestion was worse in Seattle than either Dallas or Houston, which was a direct result of Washington’s growth-management policies. 
Moreover, while INRIX’s congestion index for Seattle — and most other cities — grew worse since last year’s scorecard, the congestion indices for Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso all improved."
              That's enough for this week - more next.

              Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,