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Everything posted by JamesL

  1. It could be Charles and Anne Duncan. They recently gave the money for a new residential college at Rice.
  2. http://2035plan.org/index.htm
  3. Keep in mind that the commuter rail isn't entirely a METRO issue. It would extend outside their service area, so either that would have to be expanded or the commuter rail run by a different agency. Right now, HGAC is spearheading the commuter rail, albeit slowly.
  4. While I agree that Houston needs better transit and lots of it, y'all are mixing up two different types of transit. The LA light rail is largely a suburb-to-city system, while this next phase of METRORail is designed to be more of an urban circulator, providing transportation within the city. It is entirely possible that future phases of METRORail will extend to the suburbs along freeways. And note that the Westpark portion of the University will be in its own ROW. As for the "look" of the system, that's just a function of the vehicles. Portland MAX's old cars look more like heavy rail, and they are replacing them with S70 LRVs like ours. As for why Houston is so far behind, ask your present and past elected officials *COUGH* DeLay. And no, I don't work for METRO. This info is out there if you look for it.
  5. Christof's schematic, posted above, shows how the METRO rapid transit system will probably look in 2012. The METROExpress and Airport Direct services are bus routes that operate today. There are no immediate plans to replace them with rail, but I assure you they work well as they are. It's interesting you say that. Even though they are buses, you can still park at Cypress and get most places very easily, provided it is a weekday. The park and ride buses are comfortable and quick and use the HOV lanes during rush hour in the peak direction. The Uptown line will run at street level on Post Oak Blvd. They will probably use the median space and narrow the travel lanes slightly. It will most likely disrupt traffic flow a bit, but on the other hand almost no one presently uses transit in that area and light rail may lure them aboard. I would imagine many Galleria shoppers wouldn't mind parking elsewhere and riding light rail rather than deal with that traffic and parking.
  6. Just a couple of things y'all might have overlooked: -I believe the proposal presently on the table would include stops at the airports as well as the city centers, so an HSR station would be at least as close as the airport for everyone. -Acela is not high speed rail. It can reach 150 mph but doesn't between New York and Washington; average speed is also much slower due to track conditions, train congestion, and stops. I hope what Texas is considering would be true high speed rail: 186-200 mph on its own right of way. This would make a trip of Houston-Dallas distance much faster than an Acela trip of similar distance. A better comparison for the Texas system would be with the AVE or TGV. And for the record, I have ridden: -Cercanias (commuter), Regional, and long distance trains in Spain. -Spanish AVE from Seville to Madrid. -Amtrak northeast regional and Pennsylvanian services. -MTA Metro-North and LIRR, SEPTA, NJ Transit. -Various airport trains and urban rail in Europe.
  7. They would price it competitively. Amtrak charges that because they can get it. The Acela competes with airlines for business passengers. Rather effectively, I might add; they often sell those trains out.
  8. I think we're talking about two projects now: 1) South corner of San Jacinto and Wentworth. Steel is going up and it looks like a CVS-like building. I don't think that's what it is, though. 2) South corner of Main and Arbor. Foundations are just going in.
  9. I'm not talking about Venue. Roadrunner got it right - east side of San Jac - but it doesn't look like townhomes. What's up with all the abandoned ones, anyway?
  10. It can't be a gas station, thankfully. The lot is too small and I didn't see any tanks go in. The foundation excavation is an interesting shape. It looks like the facade will be curved. I don't know if there's a thread for this, but do we know about the steel structure going up by where the light rail crosses San Jac?
  11. I think we'll be like Houston, only better. Definitely easier to get around.
  12. I heard that the present holdup is permission from the power company to move poles and lines. The street can't be widened until that occurs.
  13. I agree with your first sentence, but your subsequent points are not accurate. You are describing a suburban commuter system, which we already have. METRO's Park & Ride buses, which run in METRO HOV lanes on the freeways, provide fast, frequent service between the suburbs and the major employment centers during peak commuting hours. The system works, so there is no immediate need to replace it. The phases of METRORail that METRO is working on now will provide a different type of service altogether. Namely, the light rail will provide intra-city transit among destinations in the most urbanized areas. Most people will reach this system on foot or by bus, so it has to go where the people and jobs are. No one lives in the median of I-10, so even if that were available for rail transit, it would not be the best choice for METRORail as presently conceived. The technology itself can be used for suburban commuter service, so in the future we may see light rail extensions to the suburbs; however, that is not METRO's aim in these first phases of the system.
  14. They will almost certainly open in stages. My bet is on the East End Line (minus Magnolia TC because of the bridge/tunnel issue) and the Downtown portion of Southeast to open first, followed by the rest of Southeast and North. At this point the University Line is the biggest laggard and the Uptown line can't open until after that. I'm more skeptical every day that it will all happen by 2012, though I'm told construction on the Main Street Line only took 3 years, so i guess time will tell.
  15. The main requirement for a quiet zone is four quadrant gates at crossings, i.e. both lanes of traffic (and sidewalks) have crossing arms so idiots can't drive around the lowered gates. And, while engineers would no longer sound the horn routinely, they would still honk away if there were an obvious problem on the tracks ahead, like kids playing or people walking.
  16. This argument has been hashed out a million times before. In reality, it's all about the money. Houston only has a finite amount to spend on transportation and can only get a finite amount from the federal government, so we have to do the best with what we have. See: http://www.ctchouston.org/blogs/christof/2...w-me-the-money/ I know it's from before they decided on all LRT, but the idea is the same. On the contrary, light rail, even at grade, is far superior to buses in most ways. It can carry 200 people per vehicle, or 400 people per train. The traffic prioritization system makes it so they rarely have to stop between stations (except in the TMC with those shared turn lanes; I don't think they plan to build any of the new lines like that). Accidents are few and far between now that drivers get the idea that left turns are illegal on Main St. The streets on which new lines will run will have signalized left turns, likely reducing the possibility of accidents further. In short, you're right; there are ways to build a faster, more convenient rail system. In Houston, though, light rail - at grade, in its own reservation - will give us the best approximation of true rapid transit and allow us to get the most extensive system out of a limited budget.
  17. The lion's share of the old "median" is not being bulldozed. They were even out moving mature trees yesterday. And, as kylejack noted, the road will still go through scenic parkland. Confining the noise and visual pollution of the roadway to a smaller area is certainly not all bad.
  18. The elimination of the day pass has been a point of contention since the Q Card was implemented. It would be pretty easy to simply cap the amount that can be deducted from the card in one day, but as of yet we pay for every ride. That said, transfers within 2 hours of the first tap are free so long as you don't double back on the same bus route. From my experience, I'm fairly sure that going the other direction on METRORail doesn't deduct any more money.
  19. At first I was skeptical as to the necessity of this project, but in the end I think it will really enhance the park. Yes, driving under that tree canopy is pretty neat, but I don't think the drivers doing 50 mph and yakking on their cell phones ever gave a hoot. That fast traffic makes the running path - and I would imagine the golf course, as well - less enjoyable. And in the minutes of one of those hearings it states that there will in fact be a net loss in paved area since capacity will be the same and the crossovers will be eliminated. I, for one, am glad that this is one road project that actually has some conservation value; i.e. it will confine the road impact to as small an area as possible, leaving vastly more contiguous green space.
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