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musicman

Study recommends rail on US 290 and Texas 3

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A regional commuter rail study unveiled today recommends starting with a "baseline" system of five lines, but none providing direct service to Sugar Land, The Woodlands, Kingwood or Bush and Hobby airports.

Alan Clark, who heads transportation planning for the Houston-Galveston Area Council where the plan was presented, said conflict with heavy freight rail operations would prevent commuter rail to those destinations in the near future.

The five recommended lines are:

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Why Tomball? I know coming from the east side of 249, the only way to get there is 2920 and 1960, neither of which are good for traffic.

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Why Tomball? I know coming from the east side of 249, the only way to get there is 2920 and 1960, neither of which are good for traffic.

A study I saw last week suggested that the Woodlands/Conroe corridor would be the 2nd or 3rd most cost effective route of 17 or so "spokes" coming out of downtown. I am surprised that it did not make the top 5, though I suspect it has to do with the fact that, with I-45 and the Hardy Toll Road, that corridor has more transportation options than the routes listed.

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It looks like this study is looking for "low hanging fruit". They propose adding commuter rail traffic to existing rail lines that aren't congested. The Woodlands and Sugar Land are higher up on the tree.

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It looks like this study is looking for "low hanging fruit". They propose adding commuter rail traffic to existing rail lines that aren't congested. The Woodlands and Sugar Land are higher up on the tree.

I agree, but I think the Tomball route would be a boon to those that are "trapped" in the back of the woodlands. Tomball will continue to grow and I'm sure the HP center and Willowbrook mall doesn't help traffic matters very much and this would be a great way to bypass those.

Texas 3 would be a great commuter route, but I have concerns about traffic along the rail line, though.

I'm pretty "eh" on the other sites.

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They need a line out to Katy. I think it would have one of the, if not the highest ridership among all other lines.

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I agree, but I think the Tomball route would be a boon to those that are "trapped" in the back of the woodlands. Tomball will continue to grow and I'm sure the HP center and Willowbrook mall doesn't help traffic matters very much and this would be a great way to bypass those.

Texas 3 would be a great commuter route, but I have concerns about traffic along the rail line, though.

I'm pretty "eh" on the other sites.

That UP probably run 2-3 trains a day tops down that line. There is grass growing in between the tracks, the speed limit is only 30 mph and while its a more direct connection between Houston and Galveston; both UP and BNSF use the old Santa Fe route much more. With track upgrades and minimal station facilities, you could run commuter trains practically overnight on the line with almost no disruption to traffic.

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They need a line out to Katy. I think it would have one of the, if not the highest ridership among all other lines.

Right along the Westpark, hitting West Houtston, Royal Oaks, Katy, and all point Sugarland. Seems like it would be a no brainer.

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It looks like this study is looking for "low hanging fruit". They propose adding commuter rail traffic to existing rail lines that aren't congested. The Woodlands and Sugar Land are higher up on the tree.

Bingo. And the Westpark corridor probably isn't on there because it doesn't physically exist as a railroad track anymore.

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So let me see if I have this right.

Someone commuting from Cypress to Downtown would take the commuter rail to NW TC, Uptown Line to Westpark, University Line to Wheeler Station, then the Red Line to downtown. Uh-Huh. :wacko:

that's how the "i only ride rail folks" would do it (i won't mention any names), but most would hop on the P&R bus and go downtown.

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that's how the "i only ride rail folks" would do it (i won't mention any names), but most would hop on the P&R bus and go downtown.

Yeah, but that would be an improvement over the current service how????

Right now, a Cypress resident could take the P&R all the way downtown with just a stop (not a transfer) at the NWTC.

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Yeah, but that would be an improvement over the current service how????

Right now, a Cypress resident could take the P&R all the way downtown with just a stop (not a transfer) at the NWTC.

The park and ride works great on 290, but needs some improvements like more buses, extended HOV lanes, and perhaps some direct lines that do not stop at the NW transit center. If adding cost effective rail lines could get them out of widening 290 for a few years after the Txdot accounting screw up, that could help as well. I am envisioning a future where people really don't want to use cars to commute every day, and all Houston's mega freeways are empty. 290 traffic is light on the weekends. SRO on every single bus from Cypress these days...

It looks like the study is also targeting high growth areas anticipating future demand. Cypress is growing with Bridgeland, Fairfield, and Towne Lake. Tomball and the back of the Woodlands are growing quickly with the New Village in TW (Creekside Park??), not to mention Magnolia. Also, isn't most of the growth on the south side of the city out in Pearland?

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The park and ride works great on 290, but needs some improvements like more buses, extended HOV lanes, and perhaps some direct lines that do not stop at the NW transit center.

Those solutions are a heck of a lot cheaper than adding a duplicate service rail line. I'm all for putting rail out to Cypress, but shouldn't we get an improvement in service for the extra cost?

If adding cost effective rail lines could get them out of widening 290 for a few years after the Txdot accounting screw up, that could help as well.

The 290 widening IS on hold. Very little engineering work is happening on that project these days.

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Those solutions are a heck of a lot cheaper than adding a duplicate service rail line. I'm all for putting rail out to Cypress, but shouldn't we get an improvement in service for the extra cost?

The 290 widening IS on hold. Very little engineering word is happening on that project these days.

I agree, the system as it is proposed in this report taking 3 different light rails that stop at red lights and wait in traffic like the red line, would be a nightmare. That is why I say spend the money to improve the park and ride, or build commuter rail to ape the current park and ride system, i.e. go directly to downtown with a stop at the transit center for those who need it to transfer to the uptown line. Out of a bus of 80 people on a normal day on the 217, probably 6-10 get off at the NW transit center to catch the uptown/greenway or the medical center bus.

As crazy as it sounds for someone who lives in Cypress, I am glad the 290 widening is on hold, everyone use public transportation!!! Cars are soooo last century...

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So let me see if I have this right.

Someone commuting from Cypress to Downtown would take the commuter rail to NW TC, Uptown Line to Westpark, University Line to Wheeler Station, then the Red Line to downtown. Uh-Huh. :wacko:

No. The commuter rail goes all the way to the Intermodal Station Downtown (near that Hardy Rail Yards site). It would go inside 610 and run in the Heights. Then they would take the Red Line into town. Where did you get that other stuff from?

Edited by Trae

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So let me see if I have this right.

Someone commuting from Cypress to Downtown would take the commuter rail to NW TC, Uptown Line to Westpark, University Line to Wheeler Station, then the Red Line to downtown. Uh-Huh. :wacko:

Dont forget that only 8% of the Houston workforce is located downtown. Currently, the P&R solution serves them well.

What about the other (larger) percentage of workers that work in other locations such as Greenway plaza, Galleria, TMC, etc that will now have an option they do not have today.

What about the reverse commuters who cannot use the P&R today, but could possibly use the commuter rail?

Dont assume this is being designed to only serve one purpose.

Edited by Mr. Chenevert

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No. The commuter rail goes all the way to the Intermodal Station Downtown (near that Hardy Rail Yards site). It would go inside 610 and run in the Heights. Then they would take the Red Line into town. Where did you get that other stuff from?

I'm referring to the OP which listed:

U.S. 290, with a passenger terminal and maintenance facility near Metro's Northwest Transit Center. This would connect to Metro's planned Uptown light rail line.

I'm aware that this is not what METRO shows in their plans.

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No. The commuter rail goes all the way to the Intermodal Station Downtown (near that Hardy Rail Yards site). It would go inside 610 and run in the Heights. Then they would take the Red Line into town. Where did you get that other stuff from?

From post #1 of this thread.

Edited by Mr. Chenevert

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I'm referring to the OP which listed:

I'm aware that this is not what METRO shows in their plans.

Also doesn't say it won't go Downtown (like from METRO maps I have seen). It will just be a major transfer point.

MS022108_Summary_.194783.jpg

Dont forget that only 8% of the Houston workforce is located downtown. Currently, the P&R solution serves them well.

What about the other (larger) percentage of workers that work in other locations such as Greenway plaza, Galleria, TMC, etc that will now have an option they do not have today.

What about the reverse commuters who cannot use the P&R today, but could possibly use the commuter rail?

Dont assume this is being designed to only serve one purpose.

You can't serve everybody with a commuter rail line, but you can serve a lot of people. For those that work in Uptown, take the Uptown Line. For the TMC, you can always take the Red Line.

Houston just seems behind so many other cities in the rail department like: Dallas, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, San Francisco, Atlanta, DC, Baltimore, NYC, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Philly, St. Louis, and Denver. Look at what they have, and compare them to ours. Pathetic.

Edited by Trae

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Dont forget that only 8% of the Houston workforce is located downtown. Currently, the P&R solution serves them well.

What about the other (larger) percentage of workers that work in other locations such as Greenway plaza, Galleria, TMC, etc that will now have an option they do not have today.

Currently, P&R users can get off at the NW TC, which is where the OP proposed the commuter rail ending. What options would this give them that they do not have today? Keep in mind I'm not referring to the light rail lines, just this commuter line.

What about the reverse commuters who cannot use the P&R today, but could possibly use the commuter rail?

I may be reading the bus schedule wrong, but it appears that "reverse commute" P&R service is available, just not in the HOV lane, and it appears limited to "express" service without the NW TC stops. So you may be right that rail would add some additional service.

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What about the reverse commuters who cannot use the P&R today, but could possibly use the commuter rail?

Why can't reverse commuters use P&R? I used to take the P&R busses from downtown to Clear Lake and Greenspoint.

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No. The commuter rail goes all the way to the Intermodal Station Downtown (near that Hardy Rail Yards site).

trae forget intermodal. METRO has at this point cause there's no agreement to use UP's tracks.

Yeah, but that would be an improvement over the current service how????

Right now, a Cypress resident could take the P&R all the way downtown with just a stop (not a transfer) at the NWTC.

concur but your transit advocates will say "it gives us another option" or "I will never be caught on a bus", etc.

The park and ride works great on 290, but needs some improvements like more buses, extended HOV lanes, and perhaps some direct lines that do not stop at the NW transit center. If adding cost effective rail lines could get them out of widening 290 for a few years after the Txdot accounting screw up, that could help as well. I am envisioning a future where people really don't want to use cars to commute every day, and all Houston's mega freeways are empty. 290 traffic is light on the weekends. SRO on every single bus from Cypress these days...

cnote....how often do you think a train will be running down this proposed commuter rail line? most likely less frequently than P&R service is now.

That is why I say spend the money to improve the park and ride, or build commuter rail to ape the current park and ride system, i.e. go directly to downtown with a stop at the transit center for those who need it to transfer to the uptown line.

You want cost effectiveness yet your proposal would sure require a big budget!!

Out of a bus of 80 people on a normal day on the 217, probably 6-10 get off at the NW transit center to catch the uptown/greenway or the medical center bus.

it's about serving the maximum amount of people at a minimal cost, not about making your ride 2 mins shorter.

What about the reverse commuters who cannot use the P&R today, but could possibly use the commuter rail?

commuter rail, as proposed, goes one way, how will this help reverse commuters?

Houston just seems behind so many other cities in the rail department like: Dallas, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, San Francisco, Atlanta, DC, Baltimore, NYC, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Philly, St. Louis, and Denver. Look at what they have, and compare them to ours. Pathetic.

behind what? please be specific? sounds like some is plagiarizing a list of cities with light rail and has no actual knowledge. it's not like you haven't done that before..this week.

Edited by musicman

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commuter rail, as proposed, goes one way, how will this help reverse commuters?

Are they going to melt down the trains once they get into town? That seems very inefficient.

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Are they going to melt down the trains once they get into town? That seems very inefficient.

nah ~8 hrs later they go back.

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Are they going to melt down the trains once they get into town? That seems very inefficient.

You beat me to it! LOL

Why can't reverse commuters use P&R? I used to take the P&R busses from downtown to Clear Lake and Greenspoint.

They dont drive on the HOV lanes, which kinda detracts from the whole point. Commuter rail would be just as fast coming or going.

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Currently, P&R users can get off at the NW TC, which is where the OP proposed the commuter rail ending. What options would this give them that they do not have today? Keep in mind I'm not referring to the light rail lines, just this commuter line.

You are right. Both commuter rail and light rail need to be built to be effective.

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cnote....how often do you think a train will be running down this proposed commuter rail line? most likely less frequently than P&R service is now.

You want cost effectiveness yet your proposal would sure require a big budget!!

it's about serving the maximum amount of people at a minimal cost, not about making your ride 2 mins shorter.

Why can't they run as often? Or less often but carry more people?

Also, I gave the cost effective solution of improving P&R service, but if you didn't want to widen 290 (a multi billion dollar proposition), use some of that money to build a decent commuter rail line that could hook up to the light rail system at multiple points, Uptown line and Red line.

The NW station takes longer than 2 minutes, but even so, there could be certain buses that skip it, and certain buses that stop. Even if it is only a couple buses in the morning and evening. Metro does similar setups on other 290 buses like the 214, some go to multiple P&R's some don't.

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Why can't they run as often? Or less often but carry more people?

the latter.

Also, I gave the cost effective solution of improving P&R service, but if you didn't want to widen 290 (a multi billion dollar proposition), use some of that money to build a decent commuter rail line that could hook up to the light rail system at multiple points, Uptown line and Red line.

when you say build a decent commuter rail line, are you talking about obtaining land too? how is that cost effective?

The NW station takes longer than 2 minutes, but even so, there could be certain buses that skip it, and certain buses that stop. Even if it is only a couple buses in the morning and evening. Metro does similar setups on other 290 buses like the 214, some go to multiple P&R's some don't.

there could yes. either way if you drove does the bus still beat your time?

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Houston just seems behind so many other cities in the rail department like: Dallas, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, San Francisco, Atlanta, DC, Baltimore, NYC, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Philly, St. Louis, and Denver. Look at what they have, and compare them to ours. Pathetic.

Yep, and it is very much ahead of so many other cities in the moving-people-with-cost-effectiveness department.

Commuter rail is duplicative to P&R, is wasteful of precious right of way and trackage rights, and as it is currently planned is less flexible and does not necessarily result in time savings. Just what is the point?

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behind what? please be specific? sounds like some is plagiarizing a list of cities with light rail and has no actual knowledge. it's not like you haven't done that before..this week.

Those are a list of cities that all have rail transport (more than Houston). Whether it be light rail, commuter rail, or heavy rail. Houston is behind with only seven miles of any kind of rail transportation. That is pathetic.

And about the plagiarizing thing, I have known him for over three years and he didn't mind when I asked. Should have kept in quotes.

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What mass transit does Pittsburgh have?

The incline doesnt count as mass transit. Its a tourist attraction. Sure, some people actually do use it to get to work, but only because its a novelty.

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What mass transit does Pittsburgh have?

The incline doesnt count as mass transit. Its a tourist attraction. Sure, some people actually do use it to get to work, but only because its a novelty.

Pittsburgh has light rail. Even parts of it are in a subway.

Yep, and it is very much ahead of so many other cities in the moving-people-with-cost-effectiveness department.

Commuter rail is duplicative to P&R, is wasteful of precious right of way and trackage rights, and as it is currently planned is less flexible and does not necessarily result in time savings. Just what is the point?

Commuter rail can save time. It isn't like you have to eliminate the P&R buses, too, while having commuter rail. Both can coexist. Also, those cities I mentioned have light rail, subway, heavy rail, and commuter rail (some don't have each and every one of those though). All have more miles of track than Houston.

We can't just continue to widen freeways and build tollways down the middle of them. That is just stupid and costs more money to use.

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the latter.

when you say build a decent commuter rail line, are you talking about obtaining land too? how is that cost effective?

there could yes. either way if you drove does the bus still beat your time?

I think for the most part we agree on this issue as we have debated it before in a different thread but to your points...

At the time I leave in the morning (about 6:30) the P&R saves no time at all. My P&R really only saves time during peak hours around 7 am and 5 pm. I don't think people ride the bus to save time, it is about saving money and maybe the environment for some people.

I havent seen any information about how much it would cost to put in commuter rail into downtown with stops to link with the uptown and red lines, but if you could do it for less than the cost of widening 290, then yes, it is cost effective.

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Commuter rail can save time. It isn't like you have to eliminate the P&R buses, too, while having commuter rail. Both can coexist. Also, those cities I mentioned have light rail, subway, heavy rail, and commuter rail (some don't have each and every one of those though). All have more miles of track than Houston.

If P&R and HOT lanes are used effectively and in combination (as is planned for the Katy Freeway), it is very difficult to conceive of how commuter rail could be anything more than duplicative, more expensive, slower, and less flexible.

Considering how much mass a commuter train has, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it used more energy per passenger mile and polluted more than busses, too.

We can't just continue to widen freeways and build tollways down the middle of them. That is just stupid

What magnificent powers of reasoning! :wacko:

Edited by TheNiche

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Those are a list of cities that all have rail transport (more than Houston). Whether it be light rail, commuter rail, or heavy rail. Houston is behind with only seven miles of any kind of rail transportation. That is pathetic.

it's funny how many other cities are clamoring to discover why our park & ride system is so successful at a far less cost. doesn't sound pathetic to me.

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While I can't argue that here may be no time savings today with commuter rail on some of these lines, has anyone thought about if the projections are true and there's 9 million people living in Houston in 27 years? I'm not so sure that build-as-we-go piecemeal approach will continue to do us too well. The aggressive freeway expansion in the 80s and 90s got out ahead of the congestion, so why can't rail do the same thing? Why can't a robust rail system (yes it may cost upfront) be available to use once people are ready to use it instead of having to wait in a years long process of getting anything built? Is the Eastex a waste of money because it's basically free-flowing in the peak hour? Or is it worth the cost because it won't be congested for quite some time? The Eastex is a case, IMO of planning ahead for congestion that is going to come in the next couple decades. It's the most reliable route to the airport, and if congestion gets bad enough on I-45, could be a plausible alternative for people who don't want to pay tolls to travel northward (cutting over on the free part of the Beltway and then heading north on the less-congested part of 45). The few times a year that I head in that direction, that's the route I take even now, especially if it's near the peak hours.

I just can't understand the knee-jerk feel that rail has to provide time-savings and be the cheapest alternative from day 1. METRORail may seem like a waste to many today, but can it be argued that in 2035 as part of a system in a 9 million person metro,it was money well spent and a bargain pricewise? We won't know the answer to that for 27 years, but given my bias that I'm not afraid to admit as well as the likelihood that implementing infrastructure in the future will cost more in hard and soft costs by then, I would say yes.

Edited by GovernorAggie

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Yeah, but that would be an improvement over the current service how????

Right now, a Cypress resident could take the P&R all the way downtown with just a stop (not a transfer) at the NWTC.

I moved here in 2004 and no new lines have yet been built. It sounds like pixie dust to me.

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Interesting study, and great for discussion, but I don't see anything like this happening here for another decade. Just look at all the roadblocks the light rail lines have to go through.

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... still waiting for someone to show us how commuter rail is an improvement over P&R buses with HOV lanes... (and getting to add pretty colored lines to the fun map on radicalcartography.com isn't good enough... we could make our own fun map showing routes and miles of efficient and flexible P&R bus systems and overshadow every other city in North America.)

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If P&R and HOT lanes are used effectively and in combination (as is planned for the Katy Freeway), it is very difficult to conceive of how commuter rail could be anything more than duplicative, more expensive, slower, and less flexible.

Considering how much mass a commuter train has, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it used more energy per passenger mile and polluted more than busses, too.

What cities?

What magnificent powers of reasoning! :wacko:

Like you have shown any.

... still waiting for someone to show us how commuter rail is an improvement over P&R buses with HOV lanes... (and getting to add pretty colored lines to the fun map on radicalcartography.com isn't good enough... we could make our own fun map showing routes and miles of efficient and flexible P&R bus systems and overshadow every other city in North America.)

It is another added use to our transportation system. You can have it, as well as P&R going together. Works in other cities.

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... still waiting for someone to show us how commuter rail is an improvement over P&R buses with HOV lanes...

I think we have a great HOV system... but if you really want someone to show you why commuter rail is better... try

here for starters. Sure seems like a better experience to me.

(and getting to add pretty colored lines to the fun map on radicalcartography.com isn't good enough... we could make our own fun map showing routes and miles of efficient and flexible P&R bus systems and overshadow every other city in North America.)

This was in response to someone questioning the validity of Pittsburgh having a line or not. I remember having seen this graphic and wanted to share. It was not to make any point for or against rail... it's strictly a fascinating graphic comparison for overall system.

Plus : Those are complete transit system.. including heavy and lite rail, along with dedicated bussways, peoplemovers, & trolleys.

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I really like the idea of rail to Galveston and would like to see this pursued independently of the other commuter rail proposals. It would serve not only commuters, but weekenders/day trippers to the island, plus be a major part of evacuation planning.

Edited by crunchtastic

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I keep reading the term "less flexible" by the anti-railers. Would anyone care to explain to me how a 22 lane freeway is "more flexible"?

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Pittsburgh has light rail. Even parts of it are in a subway.

Subway, no, tunnel yes. You see, they have to go through a small mountain and across 3 rivers to get into the city.

They didnt do it for the "cool" factor like you might belive.

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It is another added use to our transportation system. You can have it, as well as P&R going together. Works in other cities.

Yes, I suppose you can have both, but why? You still have not given us any reason why we should prefer commuter rail over the park & ride system. What will rail do that the P&R system doesn't or can't do?

I think we have a great HOV system... but if you really want someone to show you why commuter rail is better... try

here for starters. Sure seems like a better experience to me.

This was in response to someone questioning the validity of Pittsburgh having a line or not. I remember having seen this graphic and wanted to share. It was not to make any point for or against rail... it's strictly a fascinating graphic comparison for overall system.

Plus : Those are complete transit system.. including heavy and lite rail, along with dedicated bussways, peoplemovers, & trolleys.

If so, then the map is completely inaccurate. Houston has dedicated busways all over the place, in the form of HOVs, that should be shown on that map.

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I keep reading the term "less flexible" by the anti-railers. Would anyone care to explain to me how a 22 lane freeway is "more flexible"?

This has been discussed a number of times here. Surely you know better than your question suggests... It is obvious that a "22-lane freeway" is not flexible. But then, nobody is talking about building 22-lane freeways for P&R buses. More importantly, it's the P&R bus system that is more flexible than a commuter rail system, not the particular concrete it is driving on. In the medium to long run, P&R buses and their systems can easily adapt to changing circumstances, by going off the dedicated busway, adding and subtracting stops as demand dictates. Commuter rail, not so much.

Furthermore, on a day-to-day basis, a P&R system can provide better service because of its flexibility by sending one bus with 50 passengers to the Northwest Transit Center while another bus with another 50 passengers can be routed directly downtown, where more than one stop can be made, avoiding further transfers, and another directly Uptown and another directly to the TMC. It is not really possible to do that with commuter rail. Commuter rail will have 200 passengers going to the northwest transit center, where 100 of them get off and transfer to another train or bus to get to Uptown or TMC and the other 100 wait for the train to proceed to its single stop downtown, where most of them will also have to transfer to another bus or light rail.

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