Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Metro Web Chat Transcript


  • Please log in to reply
2 replies to this topic

#1 MetroMogul

MetroMogul
  • Full Member
  • 307 posts
  • Location:Westchase District

Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 7:09 PM

The bolded are questions that I asked.....





(12:00:48 PM) John Sedlak:

Welcome to the August Web chat. I'm John Sedlak, executive vice president here at METRO. Look forward to your questions regarding Signature Bus and regionalism.

(12:03:23 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Any comments from Mr. Sedlak regarding the feasibility of a SH6 Energy Corridor QL route and when approximately it could be launched (which decade?) would be appreciated. Especially if BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Chemicals, PDVSA, PGS, etc. are willing to pony up some spare change from their ample profits in the current $100+ per barrel oil economy? Energy Corridor General Manager Clark Martinson is trying to get the 4LW underwritten by the major oil company employers in his district.


A : The Energy Corridor has had a lot of growth in the recent past. And we continue to look at this area for ways in which we can interact with the business community in providing transportation and transit services.



The use of a Quickline route in this area most likely would have to await the introduction of local service and this certainly would be assisted by private sector support. At this time, we do not have any firm dates for that introduction of service but would look forward to direct discussions with the business community in the Energy Corridor.





(12:04:56 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : OK, how about 482 Westheimer QL, 456 Airline QL, 404 Beechnut QL, 485 Antoine QL, 464 Gessner QL?


A : Westheimer route has been identified as a potential Quickline for future Quickline service, as well as Gessner. The other routes, as well as these, will need to await the public's response to our first service which will go into place on Bellaire Blvd.



(12:06:37 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : The new METRO's proposal for commuting rail to Fort Bend County is quite different from the original H-GAC's proposal. The difference is the use of the share of use on the rail line on US-90. Please comment.


A : METRO is not considering a shared use of the existing freight rail corridor within 90-A. This is a very heavily used freight rail line and a shared usage of track would not be possible.











(12:08:37 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Since I can't make it, Here's my question, "Would the real-time bus arrival information from NextBus Inc. (http://www.nextbus.com/)?"


A : One of the key features of the Signature Bus service to be introduced on Bellaire Blvd. would be next-bus arrival information to be displayed on signs at the Signature Bus stops locations. This information will be real time provided by a GPS system tied into the sign system and its software. The company that supplies this equipment to METRO is Init.







(12:11:12 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : When is the 482 Westheimer QL going to launch?


A : Before advancing additional Signature Bus lines beyond those currently under development - that is, Bellaire Blvd, the Palm Center route from the TMC running east to the Palm Center area and the Tidwell Quickline route, which would run from Tidwell Transit Center to the Northline Transit Center - we need to gauge the public's acceptance of this new service.





(12:15:05 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Can you elaborate on the planned Signature Bus lines and when they might be put in service?


A : Signature Bus lines, also called Quickline, is our newest form of transit service first to be implemented on Bellaire Blvd. to serve the Texas Medical Center from the west side of Houston. This new service will use new hybrid-electric buses, on-board security cameras, more comfortable seating, a quieter interior and a significant amount of passenger information to be provided at the stop locations along the route.



This first service will operate during peak hours in the morning and afternoon at 15-minute intervals. The Bellaire route is approximately nine miles in length and will have only eight stops. This will allow buses to make the trip from the west side of Houston to the TMC with significant time savings. Signature Service, also known as Quickline, is identified by banners, roadway symbols and new transit shelters.

(12:15:24 PM) Moderator1 whisper (12:15:24 PM) wakester:

(12:04:56 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : OK, how about 482 Westheimer QL, 456 Airline QL, 404 Beechnut QL, 485 Antione QL, 464 Guessner QL?


A : Westheimer route has been identified as a potential Quickline for future Quickline service, as well as Gessner. The other routes, as well as these, will need to await the public's response to our first service which will go into place on Bellaire Blvd.







(12:17:12 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Mr. Sedlak, at $30.00 per trip, the real people who need the service cannot afford to ride it - the workers that work at the airport. Why cannot it be lowered to around 5 bucks?


A : The new Airport Direct service will be a premium service operating every 30 minutes with service to IAH Bush with a 30-minute trip time. METRO also will continue to operate the 102 IAH route which provides service to employment sites on the airport property, as well as service to Terminal C. The cost of that service is $1.



(12:19:21 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Why has Metro become so conservative when it comes the expansion of bus service? Metro has gone all in on light rail, but new bus service is sporadic and often delayed when it is announced. We only have one signature line when there's demand of at least three. When will this trend turn around, if ever?


A : Although much attention is focused on METRO's light-rail expansion, METRO is not ignoring its major portion of transit service, which is its bus network. New routes in the form of Park & Ride service have been put in place within the past year and with the introduction of the new Quickline service on Bellaire Blvd. we will be upgrading the local network.
















(12:22:42 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : What is the start date for Bellaire QL service? Can we expect to see more press coverage and photos for those of us who don't want to drive down Bellaire to see the new stops and buses?


A : METRO had intended to start a Quickline service on Bellaire Blvd. this week. Construction installation of shelters, equipment and on-going street construction have delayed this start-up of service. We will post information on a new start date as all program elements are completed and taken through start-up testing. We will work with the media to provide announcements on a start date and the locations of stops along the Bellaire route.







(12:25:47 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Also, the 402 - QL Belliare schedule needs to be revised as it has two issues. One, it only has eight stops, but it has the same running time, if not a tad slower than that of the Impossible Dream (the 2 - Bellaire Sunday Schedule) which stops at nearly every posted bus stop. Another issue is that it takes four minutes to get from the Sharpstown to Fondren, but only three minutes from Fondren to Gessner? The route was poorly scheduled, and you can shave at least ten minutes off the running time. Someone should look into that.


A : The 402 Quickline stop locations were identified to connect with other METRO bus routes. The limited number of stops along the route is to improve travel time & reliability. The 402 Quickline buses are also equipped with control devices that will interact with the traffic signal system to allow the buses to have priority movement along the Bellaire route. All of this again is designed to improve trip times and reliability.








(12:27:40 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Why not put the real time bus arrival info on the website & phone for all buses? This will save money then start roll out electronic signs to bus stops at all major intersections.


A : Use of real-time bus arrival information on the 402 Quickline may be a prelude to future use throughout METRO's system and also on our Web site. This demonstration of this technology will be reviewed with the public to gauge its acceptance.





(12:28:22 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Will passengers be able to load baggage underneath the new airport direct buses?


A : Yes. The Airport Direct buses will have luggage storage space.

















(12:29:56 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : I wonder if I can get Mr. Sedlak to disclose which new buses have been assigned to these new routes.


A : For the Quickline service, new hybrid-electric 40-ft buses supplied by New Flyer Corp. will be utilized. For the Airport Direct service, new hybrid-electric 45-ft coaches will be utilized.



.



(12:32:31 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : How will you measure the success?


A : For the 402 Quickline, we will survey passengers periodically to gain their opinion of the service and will monitor ridership as a measure of success. This new route will also provide a faster trip to the Texas Medical Center complex, one of the fastest growing employment locations in the Houston region.



The next component of Signature Service will be installed on Holcombe Blvd. and OST, again serving the Texas Medical Center from the Southeast Transit Center.



(12:34:23 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Some years ago, METRO introduced the Bellaire Flyer Service. It failed and was discontinued. What makes you think this new Signature Bus Quickline will succeed?


A : The Signature Service will use a distinctive bus painted silver with the Quickline insignia applied to it. It will be recognized as a special type of service by not only the bus equipment being utilized but the stops and high level of passenger information being provided. We believe this is a major change from the approach that was used with the Bellaire Flyer Service.



(12:37:00 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : The bus lines for 221 are growing each day. During the mornings, our bus lines reach past the security station and around the corner towards Kingsland.



The trip home is worse. Even though I get on the bus at the second stop (just in front of the Hyatt), it's difficult to get a seat. I've begun walking two more blocks to get to the first scheduled stop ... which means I walk seven blocks to catch a bus in the evenings.



Even then, I've had to stand four separate times in two consecutive weeks on the trip home. I have a picture taken of our bus line this morning that I would love to e-mail you ... if you have an e-mail address. Many thanks! Diane


A : Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your using METRO service and all of the others that are utilizing mass transit as an alternative. METRO continues to monitor its routes and ridership levels and make periodic adjustments to accommodate overloaded conditions. We'd love to see your picture. Go to our blog - and click on "contact us" to e-mail your picture.







Q : Mr. Sedlak , Does METRO have more buses to be put on the very crowded Park and Ride Lots now?



(12:39:15 PM) John Sedlak:

A : METRO has recently added additional buses to the most crowded Park & Ride routes. In the coming year, additional new Park & Ride buses will be received and put into service.



(12:40:09 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Will passengers be able to transfer free to $3.50 routes like the 246 from the airport direct service when using the q card?


A : No. The Airport Direct is a premium service to demonstrate connecting downtown to our major airport with an alternative form of public transportation.











(12:43:10 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : How can METRO manage to keep bus fares so low even with the skyrocketing fuel costs these days...the airlines are really hurting!


A : METRO has been purchasing fuel at lower than market rates to be able to provide the best service we can at a reasonable cost. Fuel is one of our largest budget items, and this year alone, will cost METRO an additional $23 million. Hope fuel prices will come down in the future.



(12:45:00 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Is there long-term parking available for the downtown express bus to IAH? Will Hobby be considered for future express bus service (at a hopefully cheaper price than $15)?


A : The Airport Direct service will depart from the downtown passenger plaza directly across Travis Street from the Downtown Transit Center. We do not have long-term parking space at this site. There are no plans for a service to Hobby at this time, but we will continue to look at this type of service, depending on the public response to the new Airport Direct route.





(12:46:34 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : I think a QL to the Palm Center from TMC TC is useless at this point without the rail link completed (the proposed SE Line). A better test of the QL concept would be along Westheimer from either Wheeler or Downtown TC to connect to a rail line and then make limited stops from there to West Oaks. The 81/82 service is dismal right now with frequently late buses and rampant bus bunching. Also, increasing the frequency of the 81/82 buses would be recommended. Westheimer is one of our premier streets and I definitely think it could support buses running every five to seven minutes.


A : Thank you for your comment regarding service along Westheimer. This particular route is under consideration for a future Quickline service. No dates have been established at this time for such a service.




(12:48:06 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Will METRO consider ordering more articulated buses to put on overcrowded park and ride routes since they can carry more passengers and have a faster unloading time?


A : METRO's new buses for use on Park & Ride routes are the 45-ft over-the-road, hybrid-electric coaches. These coaches have been determined to be the most effective for the Park & Ride service that we operate.





(12:50:04 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : How can METRO justify the $15 fare for the 500 route when this service was provided at the old express rate by the short lived 112 - Bus/IAH Direct a few years ago? This new route stops running at 8pm from Downtown and 8:40 from the Airport, for a $30 round trip the span of service should last at least until 10 or 11pm. You should also consider branch service to the Greenway/Galleria/Uptown area as $15 for a trip to IAH from Downtown on a city bus is pretty steep no matter how you slice it.


A : The Airport Direct service is a demonstration of the new premium route to Bush IAH Airport. Depending upon public response to this service, hours of operation could be adjusted.




(12:53:47 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Mr. Sedlak, I visited Washington D.C. recently and I was impressed at the level of service, and the wide array of riders using their system. Students, seniors, poor, rich - it just seems that everyone benefits from their service. Do you think we'll see that type of acceptance and support for transit in Houston any time soon?


A : METRO is working hard to expand its transit system throughout Harris County with multiple modes. Washington, D.C. metro system that you cite has been under development since the early 60s and has a wide coverage of rapid rail, commuter rail and local and express bus components. METRO's current plans to expand the light-rail system, the consideration of commuter rail in the southwest part of our region and northwest parts of our region, as well as expansion of Park & Ride and local service, will ultimately provide a multi-modal integrated transit system necessary to accommodate the rapid growth within this region.



(12:57:13 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Will service to the 288 south area south of the beltway to the medical center start any time soon?


A : METRO has been examining ways in which we can provide service to a broader region. METRO has entered into an agreement with Harris County to provide service to Baytown and has under consideration, service to Pasadena. The consideration of Park & Ride service along the state Highway 288 corridor to the TMC has been identified as a high priority for future service. Although proposals have been made to the government jurisdictions outside METRO's service area, we have at this point in time, not been able to finalize an agreement for service. We are hopeful this can be done within this coming year.





(12:58:37 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : Speaking of Tidwell TC....why is it there? And so big?


A : The Tidwell Transit Center serves an area of our community that needs improved public transit services. All of our transit centers are collection points for various routes to provide transfer capability at a covered, well-lit facility.



(12:59:58 PM) John Sedlak:

Q : What is a reasonable time-frame we might expect to see additional Quickline service put in place? Within the next year? 2 years? 5 years?


A : We expect to add Quickline service east of the Texas Medical Center to the Southeast Transit Center in early 2009 and from the Tidwell Transit Center to the Northline Transit Center in late 2009.



(1:01:23 PM) John Sedlak:

Time's up. Thanks for the great questions and comments regarding METRO's Quickline Signature Service, its new Airport Direct service and new regional services under consideration. I've enjoyed the Web chat. Look forward to future occasions to do this again.


Well, Sedlak is either a robot or someone Metro should not trust to do these webchats. His responses show that Metro has no concrete plans for expansion of bus service and that human beings CAN be mistaken for humorless chat bots. This is a definite departure from the Pennington web chat on rail a few weeks back and even though Frank Wilson can come off as a jerk, he at least will get to the meat of your questions.
Read my HAIF Blog.......

#2 TheNiche

TheNiche
  • Castaway
  • 14102 posts
  • HAIFing from none.
  •  

Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 8:27 PM

Well, Sedlak is either a robot or someone Metro should not trust to do these webchats. His responses show that Metro has no concrete plans for expansion of bus service and that human beings CAN be mistaken for humorless chat bots. This is a definite departure from the Pennington web chat on rail a few weeks back and even though Frank Wilson can come off as a jerk, he at least will get to the meat of your questions.


Many of the people that METRO has interact with the public come across as exactly this way. I would imagine that they have a political consulting firm that trains presenters on how to handle hard or sensitive questions.

#3 MetroMogul

MetroMogul
  • Full Member
  • 307 posts
  • Location:Westchase District

Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 10:08 PM

I was just very dissapointed; after reading the web chat on rail hosted by Pennington, I expected the same on the bus side of things from Mr. Sedlak. But Mr. Pennington has lots of funding forthcoming for his projects, hence lots to talk about while Sedlak was given the "dull" task of talking about the one or two rehashed ideas Metro has been kicking around to "improve" local bus service. Beyond his few talking points about QL and the "premium" Airport Direct he didn't have much to say and dodged the meat of most quetiosn.
Read my HAIF Blog.......