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Metro Changes Rail Plan

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The Metro Solutions initiative on the 2003 ballot did include a list of the rail corridors in its language. DeLay and Culberson made sure of this. However, the vote was an all-or-nothing one; there was one election for the whole plan, not separate elections for each line. So those who argue that the new plan is not what was voted on do have a point, to an extent, although I personally disagree with them. The same corridors are still included in the revised plan, with additions. The main difference is that some corridors won't have light rail transit from the start, but instead will have BRT with the plan to upgrade to light rail in the future.

Anyway, the more I consider the revised plan, the more I like it. Sure, I'd love to have rail on all those routes from day one, but if we can't get that, then I'd rather have this than nothing at all.

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This link contains the ballot language that the voters voted on.


Note that the language includes the term "light rail" and "Metro's rail system". I hate to lawyer this, but it does not promise "rail service", as it does promise "bus service" expansion. In other words, whether Metro intended it or not, the referendum did not approve trains running on the track, only the track itself. I believe it was intentional, but not for the reasons you think. If ridership did not justify the trains, Metro did not have to waste money putting them there. Is it sneaky? Yes. But, this was a politically inspired vote. The lines were laid out to maximize yes votes. Metro needed an escape clause for financial reasons.

The new plan does indeed fulfill Metro's promise to lay track. It merely delays the day that trains run down the track. I don't even agree that Metro violated the intent of the referendum. The bond money may still be spent on the referendum lines. The new money that DeLay and Culberson get approved can go toward the expanded lines.

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good analysis Redscare.

As much as people despise Delay and Culberson (i don't), they do have to admit they came through with this plan. Securing this money was a big feet and will be great for the city.

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Plans are being drawn up right now. I think late 2006 and in 2007 some construction will be going on.

Much of the alignment analysis has been done on the lines especiall the north line and the one a going to UofH. The section of the UofH line from the current Red line to Uptown will be one that needs some confirmation.

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Plans are being drawn up right now.  I think late 2006 and in 2007 some construction will be going on.

I know you said they'd been doing studies north of UofH, but do you/anyone know if they're starting there first or doing the Galleria area first? (As per the expansion maps they have posted in Reliant.)

Wikipedia seems to have some "future" info: "Alternatives Analysis and Draft Environmental Impact Analysis studies are currently underway on four extensions, but only one extension

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neither can METRO. The process they are defining is the final alignment. As soon as that is determined, the plans will move forward. Don't forget, they have to go through some more public meetings also. Especially before construction starts.

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This was in the This Week section of the Chronicle.


I agree that East End should be well served in the plan, especially along Harrisburg.  However, I wish Gilbert Moreno would tone down the "they owe the people in this area a refund" rhetoric.

The Lockwood connector looks useful as well.


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Who says Delay is backing rail? My father used to be a Senator in Oklahoma and this all sounds very familiar.


Delay: "Rail is a bad idea."

Public: "Hey, but we want it, and we elected you, so you get it for us."

Delay: "Oh... alright. I'm at your service."


FTA: "Mr. Delay, these numbers don't seem to be adding up. Can you help us understand them?"

Delay: "Um, well, if they don't they don't. Sorry to have wasted your time. Have a great afternoon."


Delay: "Awe, shucks. Look, the FTA won't approve your request. I was in your corner and did what I could but its those evil, gay lovin', America hatin' Democrats. They killed this."

Delay: "Well, since it looks like rail is out, here's a bus and a track in the road. See? Mass Transit."

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Somebody inform Gilbert Moreno that he already has a "Lockwood Connector:" it's called the 42 Holman! :lol:

Seriously, though, I can't really argue with him when he says that the University Line (or whatever METRO is calling it this week) could do a better job of connecting to the East End. The City of Houston's Major Throughfare Plan calls for punching Wheeler underneath the BSNF tracks and across to Wayside, so why not use the opportunity to extend both road and rail across? The train could then go on to Gulfgate. That's not going to happen, of course, because there's no budget for it, but it makes sense in the long term.

I don't really see a Lockwood Connector running from Harrisburg to Elgin happening, either, for two reasons. First, the Lockwood/Egin underpass at Spur 5 and I-45 is notorious for flooding problems, even in moderate rains. Either a lot of money will have to be spent on improved drainage (pumps, detention ponds, etc.) or service interruptions will be commonplace. Second, I just can't see the University Line running along Elgin. I know the Third Ward rail task force has suggested that it go down Elgin instead of Alabama or Wheeler, but once METRO's consultants run the ridership models for an Elgin alignment, that option will probably get eliminated. Elgin is not an established transit corridor (how many bus routes currently travel down Elgin east of Dowling? If you said "zero," you're correct!), it doesn't serve the UH campus all that well (nothing but parking lots on the north side of campus) and doesn't serve TSU at all.

I think Moreno will have better luck pushing the Signature Express Line from Magnolia TC to Gulfgate. If it goes down Garland, it will follow the route of the proposed Harrisburg extension anyway. Might as well start adding better service to build up ridership now.

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One last thing does taking 7000 cars of the rode clear up trafic in Houston?  Is their a study or fact about this.

OK, so I'm a little late jumping into this, but I just wanted to caution about underestimating the impact of 7,000 less commuters on freeway operations.

Let's say those 7,000 commuters are spread out over three hours (that's probably being generous). That's 2,300 vehicles per hour less on the road. On a four-lane freeway, that's 583 less VPH per lane. On a five-lane freeway that's 467 vph per lane.

Heck, let's say that's 7,000 trips, not commuters. The numbers are still 292 vph per lane and 233 vph per lane.

Either way, even 233 fewer vph per lane is a huge improvement from a traffic flow standpoint. If the freeway is at capacity (but still in stable flow), that can mean a 15 mph increase in travel speeds. If the freeway flow is unstable (i.e. "stop and go"). It can mean going from a parking lot to flowing at a respectable 45-50 mph.

BTW, are people really upset with changes in the plan, or do they just dislike METRO due to past issues? Because it seems to me that the only difference in this new plan is the material of which the tires are made. This can't really be what they're upset over, can it?

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  • 2 months later...


I have an inquiry about the new east-west line (UoH to Uptown). This line will have to cross the UPRR railroad tracts near Richmond, US 59, or Westpark. I'm guessing the LRT will use a bridge to go over the tracks. Going under is problem since there is a drainage ditch that parallels the UPRR tracks.

My worst fear is that the LRT will cross them at grade. This will cause a nightmare if the LRT will have to wait for a freight train.

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Rick Casey at the Chronicle writes a nice piece on the political machinations behind the new rail plan.


And the Chron also does a big story on how BRT works in Las Vegas. If Houston's BRT works as well as it does in Vegas, it may get upgraded fairly quickly. Time will tell.


Here is Denver's rail system now and expanding soon to cover

the whole metro area.


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A Houston forumer at SSP posted some renderings of the bus rapid transit vehicles.



At one time in the late 90's Cincinnati was considering a "Superbus" plan. You know those bendy ("articulated") buses you see every now and again? They would have been like that, but instead of just two segments, they would have been NINE segments long. They're far from street legal, but that didn't matter because they would have run on dedicated private Superbus roads that parallelled I-75 and I-71.

For whatever reason, the plan was scrapped, and I believe Cincinnati is looking at rail for those same corridors. But at least the Superbus would have been different.

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Wouldn't that look wierd to see a train stopped waiting for another train to cross?

Happens all the time with transit systems in other cities. Complexity is the offspring of growth.


This is an area known as Tower 18 where Chicago's Green, Brown, Orange, and Purple lines converge. At one time it was considered the busiest rail junction in the country. Today it probably handles about 500 trains a day. It gets complicated and a little urgent because less than a train's length to the north and to the west the lines cross very very active drawbridges. There's a lot of crappy things about Chicago's transit system, but this is one of the miracles.

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