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Over Crowded Park And Ride Buses.


ricco67

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On this week's "move it!" there has been quite a few people complaining on how the P&R buses (busses?) are beyond standing room only, but that relief will be on the way this summer with an additional 50 buses that are due to arrive.

The thing I have noticed when I'm trapped on Louisiana street during rush hour as of late, is the amount of people that are trying to "slug" onto private cars on their way home has been increasing since October and the lines are definitely longer than they used to be.

While the article only focuses on one route, I wonder how prevalent this problem is with the other P&R's destinations.

On an interesting side note, I've ran into a number of people from out of town that find it curious that the professionals actually LINE UP to get on the bus, I guess this is not a common practice in other cities.

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The fact that relatively speaking METRO's Park & Ride service is as successful as it is makes me wonder why there isn't more of a push for commuter rail. I would think it above light rail would gain the support of suburban to city commuters (which seems to be the case).

it is the total trip time that would hurt ridership. having to switch to another mode of transportation to get to your ultimate destination would most likely add time.

sound like METRO is monitoring demand and trying to respond appropriately by shifting less utilized resources to higher demand areas. plus the 50 add'l buses will pickup the shortfall.

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yeah i understand why metro wouldn't want to push too much towards an organized "flexible car pool" approach, where people in their own cars can pick up riders going the same route (less people taking the bus, less money) - but it would be nice to see the city push for something like this. every so often i go home to see my parents in clear lake after work, but the traffic is obviously not great. i sometimes try to see if i can get a Park and rider to pick up, but i also don't like trolling in the bus lanes with the window open. it would be great if there was almost a common spot for this...

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Actually, it is a fairly common thing to find. All you have to do is know what to look for.

I occasionally pick up a slug when I find myself on the wrong side of the traffic commute and happily pick up people. The only awkward time for me is when I find a single female and ask another female to join us.

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The only awkward time for me is when I find a single female and ask another female to join us.

That can be awkward, red wine helps...giggidity giggidity!!! (inside joke from another thread)

On topic...I think the park and ride is great, and really just as good or better than rail in most cases for getting to a destination, but they should look at improving getting on and off the HOV lane (ie have HOVs lanes directly to all park and ride locations) and improve flow on the lane. It can be very frustrating sitting still on the HOV lane for 30 minutes due to traffic...maybe make the HOV lane bus only...or increase the amount of passengers for use (ie 4)...

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That can be awkward, red wine helps...giggidity giggidity!!! (inside joke from another thread)

On topic...I think the park and ride is great, and really just as good or better than rail in most cases for getting to a destination, but they should look at improving getting on and off the HOV lane (ie have HOVs lanes directly to all park and ride locations) and improve flow on the lane. It can be very frustrating sitting still on the HOV lane for 30 minutes due to traffic...maybe make the HOV lane bus only...or increase the amount of passengers for use (ie 4)...

LOL.

Well, I-10 actually has a limit, but I hardly see it (or any other rules) enforced on that HOV lane.

it is my hope that eventually the HOV lanes will figure out some way to increase traffic, but they need an exit for enforcement so they can kick people off.

Another thing is a MINIMUM speed should be imposed on there. As I have discussed on another thread, I get a little irritated when someone goes 50 on HOV and traffic is doing 60 on the main lanes.

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The fact that relatively speaking METRO's Park & Ride service is as successful as it is makes me wonder why there isn't more of a push for commuter rail.

Why spend a large chunk of change to provide a duplicate service with steel tires instead of rubber?

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Why spend a large chunk of change to provide a duplicate service with steel tires instead of rubber?

I think that is the issue here...but the allure of rail for everyone is the speed and isolation from traffic disturbance. I think buses work just fine, but keep them seperated from other traffic as much as possible to limit delays and you have the best of both worlds...Houston just needs to work on the "keep them isolated from traffic delays" part....

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Why spend a large chunk of change to provide a duplicate service with steel tires instead of rubber?

Well duh...you save tons of money on tire replacements if you use steel.

But seriously, buses aren't immune to traffic backups. Trains are.

Edited by jm1fd
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On an interesting side note, I've ran into a number of people from out of town that find it curious that the professionals actually LINE UP to get on the bus, I guess this is not a common practice in other cities.

People lining up for the bus was one of the weirdest things I noticed when I moved back to Texas from Boston 10 years ago. There, you staked out your spot at the bus stop or light rail platform and hoped that the train or bus would stop with the door directly in front of you. And if it didn't you just pushed your way into the crowd that formed wherever the door did stop. There were more passengers than seats and it was every man for himself.

When I first saw it I thought lining up was rather naive and small-townish, but now I think it's quite civilized and polite. No one in New York or Boston or anywhere else would even THINK about lining up, nor would they think it rude or untowards to push their way in front of someone who had obviously been standing there longer.

Edited by cottonmather0
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interesting side note, I've ran into a number of people from out of town that find it curious that the professionals actually LINE UP to get on the bus, I guess this is not a common practice in other cities.

A sociologist could have some fun doing a compare and contrast between Park & Ride patrons and the 'regular' METRO users. At crowded stops like Louisiana/McKinney which serves the 221, 222 and 228 P&R routes everyone lines up single file in numerical order, 221 on the left, 222 in the middle and 228 on the right. Woe betide some newbie who just wanders up and tries to hop on out of order!

Even at less crowded stops like Louisiana/Texas there's an informal hierarchy where each of the six or so patrons knows who's been there the longest wating and they get on first, followed in order of 'seniority' even though no words are exchanged.

At the terminus, SRO riders get off first as their reward for having to stand the whole way home, followed in order from the front of the coach, left-right-left-right and the whole bus empties out in about 40 seconds flat! Emergency airplane evacuations should go so smooth!

IMHO, P&R riders are busy professionals and like routines; having a standard operating procedure means one less thing to think about. Also, you're likely to see the same people over and over - you don't want to become known as "the jerk who tries to get off first"! :P

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There, you staked out your spot at the bus stop or light rail platform and hoped that the train or bus would stop with the door directly in front of you. And if it didn't you just pushed your way into the crowd that formed wherever the door did stop. There were more passengers than seats and it was every man for himself.

It depends on the bus stop. The Eastex/Humble/Kingwood stop under the Humble Lofts has no room for lines but it's still very orderly.

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People lining up for the bus was one of the weirdest things I noticed when I moved back to Texas from Boston 10 years ago. There, you staked out your spot at the bus stop or light rail platform and hoped that the train or bus would stop with the door directly in front of you. And if it didn't you just pushed your way into the crowd that formed wherever the door did stop. There were more passengers than seats and it was every man for himself.

Sounds great. :rolleyes:

I guess this is what we have to look forward to here also if mass transit becomes more adopted in Houston. It kind of makes me wonder why people are so excited about having a crowded urban core with mass transit from all over the region leading to it. I don't look forward to jostling with strangers to get on a bus or train.

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^^Maybe you should read his second paragraph.

trains are affected by traffic otherwise they wouldn't be stopping in between stations.

Not commuter trains. They can hold more passengers than buses (and they can also be double-decked). Commuter rail can be added (and still keep some buses).

Edited by Trae
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Not commuter trains. They can hold more passengers than buses (and they can also be double-decked). Commuter rail can be added (and still keep some buses).

Right. We're not talking light rail, we're talking commuter rail. Real live big passenger trains that hold the equivalent of 20-30 busses at a time and run on dedicated railroad ROW away from automobile traffic.

And while I like the orderly lining up to get on the bus, I think mass transit otherwise in Houston - in particular the lack of true commuter rail and the short-sightedness of removing railroad tracks along already crowded thoroughfares to add more car lanes is terrible (thanks, John Culberson!).

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I don't look forward to jostling with strangers to get on a bus or train. me neither

I think some part of the 'train bias' lies in the perception of the rider demographic. As I stated above, the P&R clientele is different from the regular "guess-why-the-other-passengers-aren't-allowed-to-drive-cars" METRO patrons. If that's the case, then some of the rationale against buses in dedicated guideways goes away. Separate from other traffic, plus the option of travel on city streets for the last/first mile obviating the need for a modal change.

In re. jostling, Houstonians generally pride themselves on being freindly and polite (comment I heard from a member of the NFL's Superbowl committee in 2004, "Wow, everyone's so damn nice!). Not sure if it's Southern hospitality mixed with Texas openess (my opinion), or if everyone's just not sure who's packing and it's R.A. Heinlein's "An armed society is a polite society."

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On an interesting side note, I've ran into a number of people from out of town that find it curious that the professionals actually LINE UP to get on the bus, I guess this is not a common practice in other cities.

I think it's an anomaly in Texas, but from what I've observed and taken part in, this sort of thing is commonplace in New York, Chicago, and to my recent surprise, Phoenix.

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Meet some new people and get out of your bubble. :)

my bubble is surprisingly large. we met someone tonight who was describing how christ church cathedral brings the homeless in (him) and allows them to shower and wash their clothes in CCC's new facility on the weekends.

:lol:

My thoughts exactly. Everytime someone posts about rail, I imagine musicman throwing objects at his computer screen, then walking onto his porch to yell at the neighborhood kids. :D

i'm not that bad....yet!

Edited by musicman
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On different points :

Overcrowded P & R buses :

- On the 290 routes this is a big problem (at least the 214 and 217). I catch the bus at the NWTC, so I get it after it after it has left downtown. The 217 (Cypress) has always been packed. Usually requires standing and sometimes you can not even get on because people are standing all the way to the door. Lately the 214 (1960) bus has become an issue even though those buses run about every 5 minutes during peak time.

People lining up to get on the buses :

- I use P & R and local buses (33/35/49) and I have notice that people act the same for local as they do for P & R buses. They line up and the NWTC to get on and when you get to the NWTC it is a wait your turn to get off.

"slug"s :

- Although Metro does not seem to interfere with the practice, I don't think they are happy about it. I would also say it has less to do with crowded buses and more with people saving a couple of bucks. I have seen where the bus in the morning is not close to being full but people still line up for a free ride. Also, the last two P & R lots have setup where you use the Q-Card to park for free otherwise it cost to park. I wonder if this is how they are looking to stop it. Right now it only verifies that you have money on the Q-Card but I could see them deducting from the Q to park and then the bus becomes a transfer.

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On different points :

"slug"s :

- Although Metro does not seem to interfere with the practice, I don't think they are happy about it. I would also say it has less to do with crowded buses and more with people saving a couple of bucks. I have seen where the bus in the morning is not close to being full but people still line up for a free ride. Also, the last two P & R lots have setup where you use the Q-Card to park for free otherwise it cost to park. I wonder if this is how they are looking to stop it. Right now it only verifies that you have money on the Q-Card but I could see them deducting from the Q to park and then the bus becomes a transfer.

I dunno if they do it to save money. My coworkers get free bus passes and still ride as slugs.

Is being a slug unique to Houston? I have to think it is but don't know for sure.

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I dunno if they do it to save money. My coworkers get free bus passes and still ride as slugs.

Is being a slug unique to Houston? I have to think it is but don't know for sure.

From what I understand, Houston was a little behind when it came to slugging. Other cities have been doing it for several years before it became common here.

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The best use of slugging was on the HBO show "Curb Your Enthusiasm". Where the guy was late for a Dodger game and picks up a hooker so that he can drive in the carpool lane. That was also the show where a guy that was accused of murder was able to show that he was in the background and was set free.

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Another thing I noticed related to the politeness of Houston transit riders (and I don't know if this is common elsewhere) but when people get off the bus most tell the driver "Thank You". It probably annoys the driver after the 20th person says it.

Well I notice on my bus rides home in San Francisco most people usually say when there is hardly anyone on the bus. Usually it's a "Thanks and enjoy your night."

Edited by WesternGulf
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I'd love to hear some Slugging horror stories. There has to be some out there.

Only one I have heard is my coworker getting into a car and the guy drove like a bat out of hell.

I'm curious about the role of race in slugging. I've heard that black people have trouble getting cabs. Is the same true in slugging? Do drivers of one race tend to pick up slugs of the same race?

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On an interesting side note, I've ran into a number of people from out of town that find it curious that the professionals actually LINE UP to get on the bus, I guess this is not a common practice in other cities.

I'm sure yall have seen this in foreign countries as well, but when I tried ordering at Goody's in Greece, there were zero lines. People just crowded around the counter. It made a lot of sense :blink:

Sorry to get off subject

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lol.

I must say, this P&R culture is very interesting to read. Keep it coming!

I'd also like to hear more about this 'slugging.' How do you know who's going where? What are the conversations in the car like? (EDIT: memebag's link gave a great explanation. Although I think it's weird how there's not really any conversation.)

Edited by lockmat
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Well, on the west side, there are stands at the P&R's for "slugs" (I forgot what it says) and people are lined up and the cars follow a route TO the line.

You roll up, say your destination (downtown, Galleria, Medical center) and people hop in.

The conversation depends on the personalities involved. Sometimes its rather friendly, sometimes its like you're all just riding along with strangers. Believe it or not, I get a client or two this way when the topic comes up. :D

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Well, on the west side, there are stands at the P&R's for "slugs" (I forgot what it says) and people are lined up and the cars follow a route TO the line.

You roll up, say your destination (downtown, Galleria, Medical center) and people hop in.

The conversation depends on the personalities involved. Sometimes its rather friendly, sometimes its like you're all just riding along with strangers. Believe it or not, I get a client or two this way when the topic comes up. :D

Thanks, what's the topic/job? May I?

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