Sunday, April 21, 2019

HTX population crosses 7 million milestone, smart growth is dumb about commuting, BRT beats LRT, and more

Happy Easter! This week's items:
  • We're at 7 million people in the Houston metro area folks!  Yes, I realize the official number is 6,997,384 on 12/31/18, but it also says we're adding 229 new residents a day, so we crossed 7 million around January 12th of this year. Still 5th-largest metro in the country behind NYC, LA, Chicago, and DFW, but this should also put us ahead of the combined San Jose + San Francisco Bay Area, which is split by the census into two separate metros for some reason, while Dallas and Ft. Worth are combined into one. Makes no sense to me either.
  • This Grace Rodriguez interview has some good insights on Houston's entrepreneurship scene - both challenges and opportunities. My favorite excerpt:
"The challenge in Houston is trying to be shiny and polished. And, to me, shiny and polished is Dallas. No one in Houston wants to be Dallas. Let's accept the fact that we are an R&D city. We are a city that researches and develops and experiments new things. Let's lean hard into that and not say we're going to be perfect, and if we do that, then the need to try to appear perfect can go away. Being transparent on the things we are trying makes us become a role model for other cities. I feel like the feeling that we have to be polished and perfect for the rest of the world to be interested in us is the biggest hindrance to our progress. I already know the rest of the world is interested in us."
Here's the specific report excerpt with the broader context:
“US cities generally search for the sweet spot in the demand-to-capacity ratio and try not to provide service frequencies that are so high that their vehicles run empty. Thus, since LRT vehicles are larger, in order to justify providing LRT capacities that are similar to a BRT, LRT tends to operate at lower frequencies. As mentioned above, due to the perceived capacity constraint of BRT there are currently no cases in the US where LRT should be favored over BRT.”
Now we just need MetroNext to go from 70% embracing this principle to 100%...
"Building more market rate housing sets off a chain reaction supply increase that reaches low income neighborhoods. Households moving into new market rate units move out of other, lower cost housing, making it available to other households; the propagation of this effect produces additional housing supply in lower income neighborhoods."
"To achieve higher economic productivity, they recommend fostering speedier rather than slower commuting; more rather than less commuting; and longer rather than shorter commutes. 
These policies would expand the opportunity circles of employers and employees, enabling a more productive urban economy. But these are exactly the opposite of the policy prescriptions of smart growth, which generally seek to confine people's economic activity to a small portion of a larger metro area.
A less extreme version of smart growth says that we should discourage car travel and shift resources heavily toward transit. People should be encouraged to live in high-density "villages" where they can easily obtain transit service to jobs elsewhere in the metro area. The problem with this vision is the inability of transit to effectively compete with the auto highway system. 
Simply put, cars work better for workers. A 2012 Brookings study analyzing data from 371 transit providers in America's largest 100 metro areas found that over three-fourths of all jobs are in neighborhoods with transit service—but only about a quarter of those jobs can be reached by transit within 90 minutes. That's more than three times the national average commute time."

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At 7:48 AM, April 22, 2019, Blogger George Rogers said...

We will be 4th when DFW and Houston pass Chicago's population.

At 8:55 AM, April 22, 2019, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

True, but it will still be at least another couple of decades!

At 7:24 PM, April 22, 2019, Blogger George Rogers said...

Depends on how stupid Chicago gets!,amp.html

At 7:24 PM, April 22, 2019, Blogger George Rogers said...,amp.html

At 7:30 PM, April 22, 2019, Blogger George Rogers said...

Or this one

At 7:35 PM, April 22, 2019, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I think this quote has a pretty good summary of Chicago's issues: "The census numbers don’t explain the many reasons why people might move out of the Chicago area — some may have followed their employers, or graduated from school — but in interviews with the Tribune, former residents who chose to leave gave a litany of reasons, including high taxes, government corruption, crime rates, economic instability, long commutes, an overall rise in the cost of living and the weather."


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