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Slick Vik

The End of Suburbia

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I'm actually surprised that there haven't been tax credits offered for companies that adopt policies that reduce the impact of commuting already by either allowing people to work from home or by allowing shifted hours.  After all, we really don't have a capacity problem with our existing infrastructure, we have a peak utilization problem that happens for 2-3 hours a day per direction.  If you extend that peak window to 4-5 hours, you essentially double the number of vehicles that you can move.

 

Should be way cheaper than building additional infrastructure.

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Houston is very impressive now. Or was, until the transit dweebs started ruining everything with light rail that just destroys traffic patterns. Many of my regular travel routes were far easier before I had to start figuring out how to get across the stupidly placed light rail lines. My preference would be to rip out all the rail and improve bus service. There is not a valid argument for having light rail in Houston. Plus, the city would be a better place without all the whiny  "walkable this, walkable that" advocates who want to remake the city I've lived in for almost 40 years into something different.

 

I think you're exaggerating the impact one light rail line has made on traffic patterns.  I'd like to see some actual data in regards to actual travel times along light rail corridors for motorists. 

 

It would be a huge waste to rip up the rail now, considering that it carries more passengers than the previous bus line on Main Street, and it carries them at a more efficient rate than buses.  METRO actually subsidizes bus riders more than rail riders. 

 

I agree that Slick seems to have gone off the deep end with his enormous amounts of posts and threads here, but generally I just don't read his posts. 

 

I also think that the "walkable" whining is somewhat silly, but lots of people including myself like to live in walkable neighborhoods, and doing things like improving pedestrian infrastructure is a good thing IMO. 

 

Light rail is not the best form of transportation for such a large and spread out city, but it's better than buses for certain high ridership corridors, statistically speaking.

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I'm actually surprised that there haven't been tax credits offered for companies that adopt policies that reduce the impact of commuting already by either allowing people to work from home or by allowing shifted hours.  After all, we really don't have a capacity problem with our existing infrastructure, we have a peak utilization problem that happens for 2-3 hours a day per direction.  If you extend that peak window to 4-5 hours, you essentially double the number of vehicles that you can move.

 

Should be way cheaper than building additional infrastructure.

Exactly...plus it will allow the suburbs to thrive even more than they do now, especially if more people can stay in the suburbs during the working day. That's more money for local restaurants during lunch and more money left over for other purchases due to reduced transportation costs.

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So, it's settled then. He made it up. :lol:

Must be lots of telecommuters on the board. That one flippant remark got more comments than anything else.

I did not make it up. Also working from home stalls your career. Name on Fortune 500 CEO that works from home. If you really want to move up the chain you can't work from home you have to be at the office to interact with others.

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I did not make it up. Also working from home stalls your career. Name on Fortune 500 CEO that works from home. If you really want to move up the chain you can't work from home you have to be at the office to interact with others.

I understand your point, but I think that it's less relevant today than ever. Simply for the reason that all major companies are dispersed with multiple offices anyway. People have become very accustomed to working with remote employees.

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I understand your point, but I think that it's less relevant today than ever. Simply for the reason that all major companies are dispersed with multiple offices anyway. People have become very accustomed to working with remote employees.

I understand your point but even in that scenario the people usually work in the office anyway. At least from my experience.

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I understand your point but even in that scenario the people usually work in the office anyway. At least from my experience.

A couple of points. First is that many people don't have the desire to be a CEO and would trade that opportunity for the convenience of working from home. Second is that acceptance of working from home varies significantly from company to company. Tech companies in particular tend to be very accepting of it.

Tax incentives usually go a long way towards changing corporate attitudes. If it's profitable for them to support work from home, they'll figure out how to do it.

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I understand your point but even in that scenario the people usually work in the office anyway. At least from my experience.

You should look around for another company to work at. It's liberating to be able to schedule your time to maximize both your personal and professional life without having to fit into an industrial-revolution era time straitjacket.

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A couple of points. First is that many people don't have the desire to be a CEO and would trade that opportunity for the convenience of working from home. Second is that acceptance of working from home varies significantly from company to company. Tech companies in particular tend to be very accepting of it.

Exactly. Once you have more to your life than just work, you get a different perspective on the dog-eat-dog world of managerial advancement.

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Exactly. Once you have more to your life than just work, you get a different perspective on the dog-eat-dog world of managerial advancement.

So you agree with me then, that working from home 100% stagnates career growth.

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So you agree with me then, that working from home 100% stagnates career growth.

Only in certain and jobs and mainly if you're trying to elbow your way up the managerial ladder. If that's your thing, more power to you. Point is, not everyone wants to do that and frequently those that do suffer in other ways.

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So you agree with me then, that working from home 100% stagnates career growth.

Wow, this is even more pointless than most of the conversations that we have, because the original point wasn't even working from home, it was a non-traditional commute pattern. The highways are generally heavily impacted between about 6:30 - 9:00 am in one direction and between 4:00 - 6:30 pm in the other. Any worker that is not in those windows to get to their place of employment is not going to impact transit capacities in current patterns. Work from home, either full time or a few days of the week, work shifts that start and/or end outside of those windows are means to achieve that.

It seems to me that tax incentives designed to support those activities are an extremely cost effective way to minimize capital investments in infrastructure.

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Wow, this is even more pointless than most of the conversations that we have, because the original point wasn't even working from home, it was a non-traditional commute pattern. The highways are generally heavily impacted between about 6:30 - 9:00 am in one direction and between 4:00 - 6:30 pm in the other. Any worker that is not in those windows to get to their place of employment is not going to impact transit capacities in current patterns. Work from home, either full time or a few days of the week, work shifts that start and/or end outside of those windows are means to achieve that.

It seems to me that tax incentives designed to support those activities are an extremely cost effective way to minimize capital investments in infrastructure.

I know people who do this particularly from pearland since they have no HOV

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DC should be the model for Houston they got started relatively late and look at what it has now.

Surely you know better than to tell Texans that they should use Washington DC as a model for anything. ;)

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One light rail has destroyed traffic patterns? There are a number of streets parallel to Main and Fannin that you can take to avoid them.

 

Also, Houston was a city full of streetcars before it was remade into a freeway heaven. People could have been saying the same thing when streetcars were being shut down one after another.

 

And yeah, those people encouraging walking are just dumb. We Houstonians just want to walk to our driveway and from the parking lot to the mall or the office!

 

Parallel isn't the problem. Crossing the rail line is. Most of the trips I make in the vicinity of the northern extension of light rail now require multiple block detours to get across the rail line.

 

To quote my grandparents, who lived in Houston when there were streetcars, "It was difficult to get where you needed to go in any reasonable amount of time"

 

There's very little I feel like walking to from my house. The Timbergrove ball fields are pretty much it. For everything else, I'll drive. I would consider riding my bike some, but the head tube cracked, and Trek hasn't made good on it yet.

 

We have a long driveway, so I get plenty of exercise walking it's length.

Edited by Ross

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Parallel isn't the problem. Crossing the rail line is. Most of the trips I make in the vicinity of the northern extension of light rail now require multiple block detours to get across the rail line.

To quote my grandparents, who lived in Houston when there were streetcars, "It was difficult to get where you needed to go in any reasonable amount of time"

You apparently missed the memo. The streetcars were perfect. Everybody loved them and there were riots and huge protests when they were taken out of the city. The fact that we can't find any record of those protests is just a sign of the scope of the cover-up that occurred, because really, people were outraged.

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You apparently missed the memo. The streetcars were perfect. Everybody loved them and there were riots and huge protests when they were taken out of the city. The fact that we can't find any record of those protests is just a sign of the scope of the cover-up that occurred, because really, people were outraged.

 

I can't believe that someone went through all of the archives and removed all the references to the protests.

 

Of course, I guess my family is probably largely to blame for the demise of streetcars, since my great grandfather sold cars in Houston from 1912-1921. Krits, REO, and Overland.

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I did not make it up. Also working from home stalls your career. Name on Fortune 500 CEO that works from home. If you really want to move up the chain you can't work from home you have to be at the office to interact with others.

 

Not many factory workers telecommute either.

 

There's certain jobs that require attendance.

 

If you're an "analyst level 1" there's probably not much need to work in the office 5 days a week, and it shouldn't hurt your chances for advancement if you perform well and show initiative.

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Not many factory workers telecommute either.

 

There's certain jobs that require attendance.

 

No, but they can shift hours to minimize congestion.  A lot of companies have gone to 4/40 or 9/80 plans to impact that.

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I'm a few years older than your daughter and in my experience seems to bear that out with an average stay at one employer of 3.8 years. Each time I changed jobs, I went either to another part of the city or to another city entirely.

An even more interesting trend for city and transit planning is working remotely either from home or from bare-bones remote offices in the suburbs that don't require people to brave rush hour traffic and thus reduce the need for additional transit improvements. If that trend continues, there might be less demand for centralized environments like downtown and more development of edge cities closer to the suburbs.

 

Thanks for replying to my question with your own real-world experience rather than comparing Houston & other auto-centric American metro areas to "Europe"

 

The point of my question was to elicit some opinions on whether urban planners are "fighting the last war" by pushing for mass transit-dependent development that purports to create a number of "walkable" villages (village is the term for these nodes of dense development meant to attract young professionals used by planners in San Diego CA) that presumably will have a greater sense of community than suburban single family housing.

 

The San Diego example has not been a success, and job mobility among young professionals seems to be factor in that failure to create stable communities. (One example is the University City or "UTC" village that has kind of a Mason-Dixon Line of young professional renters of mid-rise condos, apts, townhouses on 1 side, and older, mostly retired single family homeowners on the other - 1 side highly mobile, transient, and the other going nowhere but "isolated" according to New Urbanists in single family housing.)

 

Slick might say (will say) that if the city of SD just built out a complete rail system in its topographically difficult terrain everything would be ok. Somehow, it just doesn't seem that simple...

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Parallel isn't the problem. Crossing the rail line is. Most of the trips I make in the vicinity of the northern extension of light rail now require multiple block detours to get across the rail line.

 

To quote my grandparents, who lived in Houston when there were streetcars, "It was difficult to get where you needed to go in any reasonable amount of time"

 

We have a long driveway, so I get plenty of exercise walking it's length.

 

1. It's not that difficult to cross the rail line, stop exaggerating.

 

2. Unless you rode the streetcars...

 

3. Walking a driveway is not sufficient exercise.

You apparently missed the memo. The streetcars were perfect. Everybody loved them and there were riots and huge protests when they were taken out of the city. The fact that we can't find any record of those protests is just a sign of the scope of the cover-up that occurred, because really, people were outraged.

 

Watch the movie taken for a ride. Then get back to me. The fact that people actually fell for GM's scam hook line and sinker is pretty sad.

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3. Walking a driveway is not sufficient exercise.

 

I think it really depends on how many times he walks the driveway. If his driveway is 20 feet long, and he walks up and down it 132 times, that's a mile, 660 times is 5 miles. I'd say that's a good enough workout.

 

Maybe his driveway is half a mile long, as he's an 'inner loop haifer' I doubt it, but you never know, then he'd just need to do 5 round trips to get a nice 5 mile walk in!

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1. It's not that difficult to cross the rail line, stop exaggerating.

 

2. Unless you rode the streetcars...

 

3. Walking a driveway is not sufficient exercise.

 

Watch the movie taken for a ride. Then get back to me. The fact that people actually fell for GM's scam hook line and sinker is pretty sad.

 

My grandparents thought the streetcars sucked, and took too long to get anywhere. That's why they bought an automobile. Plus, the streetcars didn't go many of the places they needed to go, like Tomball and Humble.

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The average speed of the streetcars was only 10 mph.

 

The city wasn't very big at the time. And also the cost of riding a street car was MUCH less than purchasing an automobile.

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The city wasn't very big at the time. And also the cost of riding a street car was MUCH less than purchasing an automobile.

 

But those who could afford it, bought an automobile.

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But those who could afford it, bought an automobile.

 

A small percentage. The automobile was considered a flop, even GM knew this, and this is why they undertook the plan of action of making a shell company to buy up streetcar lines, rip out the tracks, and replace them with buses.

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The automobile was considered a flop

The last 90 years of continuous expansion of automobile ownership worldwide belies this in such a way as to make such a statement ridiculous.

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The city wasn't very big at the time. And also the cost of riding a street car was MUCH less than purchasing an automobile.

That is correct. The population in Texas was overwhelmingly rural in those days and as such only a very small fraction of people were even served by streetcar lines. A somewhat larger percentage were served by passenger railroads for long distance travel but, guess what? For most people in Texas if you wanted to go somewhere you walked or rode a horse. It's no wonder the automobile took off like it did.

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A small percentage. The automobile was considered a flop, even GM knew this, and this is why they undertook the plan of action of making a shell company to buy up streetcar lines, rip out the tracks, and replace them with buses.

 

And the overwhelming majority of us will be eternally grateful. Only you seem upset with how things turned out. Of course, this has nothing to do with Houston streetcars, as the streetcar company itself began converting to buses as the city grew too large to continue laying track. GM had nothing to do with Houston's streetcar demise.

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And the overwhelming majority of us will be eternally grateful. Only you seem upset with how things turned out. Of course, this has nothing to do with Houston streetcars, as the streetcar company itself began converting to buses as the city grew too large to continue laying track. GM had nothing to do with Houston's streetcar demise.

 

Who in the end ended up buying the streetcar company? National City Lines, aka GM's shell company. Houston's demise was mostly due to lack of allowance to raise fares to help cover maintenance costs and the stupid rule that required paving of any street track was built on which was and still is a gargantuan cost.

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Actually, the City of Houston purchased Houston Electric's streetcar lines. GM was nowhere to be found.

 

 

While Houston’s population was increasing, streetcar ridership remained stagnant, as more and more people embraced the car. When businesses and other non-residential development began popping up in the suburbs it was clear that people were using the car for more than just their commutes. Houston was already well on its way to becoming the car-dependent city it is today.

 

The official abandonment of the streetcar system occurred in 1940 in a deal between the city and HE. The mayor of Houston had an interest in gaining ownership of the interurban route, most of which was operated by HE. His main motive was a project he had been championing, a proposed multi-lane highway to Galveston (which would eventually become the Gulf Freeway). In exchange for the right-of-way on the Houston-Galveston interurban corridor and $50,000 the city would take on the expensive task of dismantling all of the street rails, making HE’s transition to buses complete. “The death of Houston’s streetcar system was thus, in a very real sense, tied with the birth of Houston’s super-highway system” (Baron).

 

 

 

http://houstontransit.blogs.rice.edu/2011/04/16/who-killed-the-houston-streetcar-part-2/

Edited by RedScare

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Do you know why? GM used banking connections to facilitate the abandonment.

 

Never thought I'd really see so much proof for the old saying, "What's good for GM is good for America".  Thanks for supplying it.

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Do you know why? GM used banking connections to facilitate the abandonment.

 

I'm still failing to see the problem.

 

The nostalgia for the street cars seems to have materialized considerably after the fact.  I really haven't been able to find anything from the time that they were actually being removed complaining about the loss.

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I'm still failing to see the problem.

 

The nostalgia for the street cars seems to have materialized considerably after the fact.  I really haven't been able to find anything from the time that they were actually being removed complaining about the loss.

 

Far from it. People thought buses were actually an improvement in transportation. It is only people who enjoy looking at black and white photos who romanticize the streetcars.

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Far from it. People thought buses were actually an improvement in transportation. It is only people who enjoy looking at black and white photos who romanticize the streetcars.

 

You could say the same about the advent of mass single family housing after WW2. Previous options were CBD tenements or the family farm.

 

Not that the impulse was new. Americans have been drawn to the outer edge of the city since the 1st generation after Winthrop's group settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony & established Boston.

 

It is not really a mystery why affordable, boring, orderly, single family neighborhoods would appeal to working American families, except to Slick & other folks that share his particular vision of what the past must have been like.

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Slick and his fellow new urbanist brothers are so enamored of and so convinced of the perfectness of their vision that they cannot comprehend that anyone ever willingly and knowingly moved from an inner city residence to a suburban one. Because of this, they create numerous conspiracies to make people move to the suburbs, ignoring the main conspiracy...that millions of Americans actually WANTED to move to the suburbs. 

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Far from it. People thought buses were actually an improvement in transportation. 

 

Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Total revisionist history. Watch the film "Taken For A Ride." I think it was on PBS but you can find it on youtube now. 

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Slick and his fellow new urbanist brothers are so enamored of and so convinced of the perfectness of their vision that they cannot comprehend that anyone ever willingly and knowingly moved from an inner city residence to a suburban one. Because of this, they create numerous conspiracies to make people move to the suburbs, ignoring the main conspiracy...that millions of Americans actually WANTED to move to the suburbs. 

 

Because suburbs were affordable, but this was only because of government subsies. If suburbs didn't exist people would remain in cities. It was just an opportunity that made some people and companies very rich. They don't care about the average joe, in fact I'm sure they laugh at the muppets that bought into it and even defend them. 

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It doesn't appear that you care about the average joe, either. You'd rather people have no options for affordable housing just so your fantasy remains intact. I'm no huge fan of the suburbs either. However, I understand that people must live somewhere. Not everyone can afford inner city housing prices as I can. Others do not want inner city crowding like you do. But, rather than allow people the option of choosing where to live, you wish to force then into high density housing.

 

My United States has a Constitution that protects me from your United States.

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Because suburbs were affordable, but this was only because of government subsies. If suburbs didn't exist people would remain in cities. It was just an opportunity that made some people and companies very rich. They don't care about the average joe, in fact I'm sure they laugh at the muppets that bought into it and even defend them. 

 

Are you really arguing that without the so-called government subsidies you keep harping about, every last American would have chosen to live in an apartment in the center of every large city in the United States? That's ridiculous. You are implying that Houston probably would not extend past the Loop, and we would all be happy with out cramped quarters and tiny stores that carry very little in the way of useful products.

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It doesn't appear that you care about the average joe, either. You'd rather people have no options for affordable housing just so your fantasy remains intact. I'm no huge fan of the suburbs either. However, I understand that people must live somewhere. Not everyone can afford inner city housing prices as I can. Others do not want inner city crowding like you do. But, rather than allow people the option of choosing where to live, you wish to force then into high density housing.

My United States has a Constitution that protects me from your United States.

Affordable? Suburbs are a huge drain on resources as has been stated before.

Are you really arguing that without the so-called government subsidies you keep harping about, every last American would have chosen to live in an apartment in the center of every large city in the United States? That's ridiculous. You are implying that Houston probably would not extend past the Loop, and we would all be happy with out cramped quarters and tiny stores that carry very little in the way of useful products.

Billions around the world live happily in apartments you've been in houston too long to understand that

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Affordable? Suburbs are a huge drain on resources as has been stated before.

 

 

Sure, you say it, but that doesn't make it true. You say lots of things of dubious value.

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The streetcars are just another facet of romanticization of downtowns. They were often filthy and cramped, and if the 1920s College Station-Bryan interurban is anywhere close to a barometer, streetcars broke down with depressing regularity.

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