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Everything posted by JamesL

  1. Given their limited budget, what would you cut in order to do those things?
  2. Um, this is a new strategic plan. Section 7 has details of other flex routes: http://transitsystemreimagining.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Service-Toolbox-Chapter-small.pdf Page 17 has details of the proposed flex routes: http://transitsystemreimagining.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Service-Toolbox-Chapter-small.pdf
  3. Local function combined with high speeds is not good. High speed roads with local access are the most dangerous type due to the variation in speed among vehicles. And of course frontage roads are absolutely terrible for anyone not traveling by car. The folks at Strong Towns call these facilities "stroads" because they try to combine the functions of streets and roads and do both poorly. I find their stuff quite compelling. The good times we're enjoying in Texas have postponed the infrastructure liability reckoning for now, but may not forever. http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2013/3/4/the-stroad.html#.U4DDCPldUrU http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/tag/stroads#.U4DDKfldUrU
  4. I'm thrilled with how this project is turning out. If only it weren't sandwiched between two freeways. I think there's an opportunity to turn Allen Parkway into more of an urban boulevard and enhance access from the south. As it stands, there's almost a mile between safe crossing locations east of Montrose. That's not how a city capitalizes on a gem of an urban park.
  5. Looks like less than a 10 minute walk to Leeland station.
  6. From what I saw, the traffic control plans for the two Sunday Streets events so far were well thought out and maintained access where there were no alternative routes available. What I like about these events how they help people see the potential for our streets to be more than just conduits for motorized traffic. They're also a slam dunk for neighborhood businesses. I've walked lower Westheimer dozens of times and still discovered shops I had never seen before last Sunday because normally I'm watching my step on the tightrope of a sidewalk.
  7. You can take a look at how your fantasy plans match up against activity density, the singe most important factor determining the success of transit. Large PDF: http://transitsystemreimagining.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/ActivityBoardingsMapReduced.pdf
  8. Presented this morning at METRO. http://ridemetro.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=823
  9. The draft plan has been released for public input! http://transitsystemreimagining.com/
  10. Pittsburgh, Eugene, Hartford, Houston Park & Ride just off the top of my head.
  11. They still wouldn't be included since they aren't in Harris County.
  12. The whole point of dedicating a lane to transit is to gain speed and reliability. A grade crossing would ruin that. To spend that much money on a corridor with no reliability benefit would be...silly.
  13. I think you have this somewhat reversed. I would say: "The more attractive Houston becomes, the denser and more expensive." Its increasing attractiveness is due to a number of factors including a strong economy and a variety of quality of life improvements. Then the feedback loop kicks in and the denser, fancier developments make it even more attractive and so on. The first thing I'd say about the preponderance of "luxury" developments is that luxury is not a regulated term. Whatever the price point, developers call it "luxury" to make it sound more attractive. Secondly, developers aren't creating the demand for expensive apartments, they're responding to it. As long as there's demand for expensive apartments they might as well build expensive apartments since I'd imagine they're the most profitable. Escalation in overall rent prices and the negative impact on housing affordability are definite concerns, but I haven't seen where the "affordable unit" requirements you mention have solved the problem anywhere. Ultimately, housing prices are due to simple supply and demand. The market will respond to demand if it can. For the city to require affordable units while simultaneously stipulating excessive amounts of parking would be asinine. Right now, to build a one-bedroom apartment of, say, 800 square feet, a developer must build 1.33 parking spaces. Including aisle area, that's an additional 400 square feet or more. So very roughly speaking, that apartment will cost 50% more than if it didn't come with a parking space. Property managers could unbundle the rent for the unit from the rent for the parking space, but right now there's no incentive to do that when the regulations create an oversupply such that the free market price of a space is zero. Developers provide the exact number of windows, closets, toilets, cabinets, and treadmills they think they need to make a project viable. Government-mandated parking is unnecessary and leads to poor urban outcomes and decreased affordability.
  14. I'm really surprised Public Works okayed that. Heck, they required HAWKs along Navigation to cross two lanes of one-way traffic to get the esplanade.
  15. East and Southeast will open for service in September or October probably.
  16. Oh, don't get me started. For all but the sharpest curves (and maybe even those to some degree) the speed limits are set based on passenger comfort, not any safety criteria. Google unbalanced superelevation or cant deficiency if you're interested, but basically the speeds are set to keep lateral forces within an acceptable range. I don't know what maximum underbalance they've set (or even if they set speeds based on rigorous methods) but it seems absurdly low. It's really a double standard when you consider the lateral forces that are tolerated on buses. Greater underbalance and higher speeds can lead to accelerated rail wear, but I don't think this is as much an issue for light rail as it is for railroads. Then there's just the inconsistency with the rest of the line. A few years ago, an operator in training with no passengers took the Fannin-Braeswood curve too fast and derailed. The consultant they brought in to investigate said that speed limits in the area were too confusing and so now the entire segment between TMC TC and Smith Lands is a 15 zone. Meanwhile on the North Line, speed limits change dozens of times a mile and are sometimes different for each track. So are speed limit changes "too confusing" for operators or aren't they? Perception is reality for many people, and when they ride or see the train crawling down Braeswood and being passed by cars going 25 they perceive it to be slow. That's not good for METRORail's image. Plus, running this segment at its former 25 or 30 mph could probably squeeze a minute or two out of a round trip which adds up to huge savings in operation costs over hundreds of trips per day. While we're at it, let's talk about train horns. At intersections protected only by red traffic lights, the trains glide through noiselessly unless the operator sees a hazard and sounds the bell or horn. But, in the spirit of the FRA horn rule, light rail trains blast their horns at all intersections with gates, bells, and flashers. But wait, these gates provide complete closure of all lanes and the bells make plenty of noise. This is enough for FRA quiet zones along the Terminal Sub here in town. Still, METRO blasts trackside properties with horns 21 hours a day whether or not there's a soul or a vehicle in sight. This seems like a deterrent to development along the rail line. I sure wouldn't want to live in those apartments at Braeswood & Greenbriar or those townhomes at North Main & Boundary.
  17. If by angle you mean superelevation (banking) then the answer is two parts. 1. They are superelevated, at least slightly. That curve will be good for 10-20 mph I'd guess; I haven't looked that closely. 2. Where they aren't supervelevated, or only have 1/2 inch or so, it's because they are crossing traffic lanes and the city doesn't like the unevenness. Seems silly given how uneven those roads were before (e.g. North Main) but that's Public Works for ya.
  18. You just described a few ideal scenarios. The point is to not spend millions expanding parking lots but still take cars off the road. You may be underestimating how much parking spaces cost. Starting on page 32. http://ridemetro.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=785&meta_id=9750
  19. You wouldn't spend a few hours of staff time to examine alternatives before spending millions of capital dollars? And I don't understand your second point. Building more spaces costs METRO money. Running more buses costs METRO money. People carpooling is something they encourage through vanpools and park & pool lots.
  20. First, the Katy Managed Lanes are owned and operated by HCTRA. METRO excludes single occupant vehicles from HOT lanes during peak hours in order to keep average speeds at an acceptable level. Second, as stated in the article, the board directed staff to explore this issue, not to implement any changes. Third, the idea that METRO is trying to "make more money" is absurd. Just the operation of Park & Ride buses is subsidized to the tune of $9 a ride on average. That doesn't count the cost of buying, building, and maintaining the parking lots. This issue came up because major costs are going to be incurred to expand and/or relocate Grand Parkway P&R because it's over capacity. Capacity at Cypress and West Bellfort will also have to be addressed soon. You all rail about how METRO is bad with money and then get bent out of shape again when they STUDY how to go about Park & Ride expansion most cost effectively. It's certainly not a given that the cost of using the service would go up due to a parking charge. Board Member Spieler has floated the idea of simply unbundling parking and fares like WMATA and other agencies do. This would basically mean that instead of parking for free and paying a $4.50 fare from, say, Kingland you would maybe pay a $1.25 fare plus $3.25 to park. This provides an incentive to access the bus in ways other than driving and parking so METRO doesn't have to expend its limited capital budget on building new spaces. It only makes good sense.
  21. Already do. Southwest Freeway HOT lane. Alternatives considered, for your reading pleasure: http://www.ridemetro.org/CurrentProjects/Archives/2010/FEIS%202010/University-Corridor-FEIS-Vol-1-Pt2.pdf Competing for federal funding means optimizing cost effectiveness, or cost per rider, and that's what they did.
  22. Yeah, except for those hundreds of million of dollars they don't have it would hardly cost a thing.
  23. That makes no sense. Today you've got three travel lanes in each direction plus an esplanade and sidewalks. Looks like a 120' right-of-way through the residential area. One lane each way plus rail is about a 48' section. Add 12 for sidewalks. Where did the other 60 feet go?
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