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Metro Next - 2040 Vision

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So I drew up the new routes as I think they could run them and color-coded them

XhKFvpY.jpg

 

Downtown detail:

vtYmJKK.jpg

 

 

It's kind of hard to tell, but I had the uptown line go all the way to the HSR terminal.

 

The IAH BRT line is on larger scale than any of the others, but it also has the fewest stations.  I know that the main stretch down 45 is dependent on the NHHIP design choices, but they could have at least a stop at the rental center (like the light rail will) or something else between Greenspoint and the airport. If there's good connections at Greenspoint TC and there's some added stops along 45, I think it will be fine, but otherwise it might as well just be an express bus.  It also is shown as terminating at the Theater district - I would prefer if it terminated at Central station main, so that you could more easily transfer from the Red line.

 

The red line extensions don't appear to be on the phase 1 plans.  I wonder what the timeline for phase 1, phase 2, etc are.

 

The University Line (blue) is unclear how it gets from Wheeler to UH - the map implies it goes straight through TSU, but I drew it as going around the campus.  There's a lot of connections to park and rides, and it hits almost every other transit line.  This is going to be a key line, and I could see the stretch from West Chase to Wheeler getting packed at rush hour every day.

The eastern section of it goes over multiple rail yards.  Possibly elevated?

 

The purple line only has one extra station before it gets to HOU; maybe they want this to be the express way to HOU from downtown?  If so, I wonder if they will have bypass rails at some of the stations on Telephone RD so that the purple line can go to HOU faster, while the green line is a local train.  

I also wonder how they are going to handle the mess of rails at Griggs/Long/Mykawa.

 

The Inner Katy BRT (pink) looks like it's going to share lanes and platforms with the street going purple/green trains.  It will really increase the frequency going across downtown east/west

 

I'm amused by the name "Lower Uptown" for the new transit center.

 

I didn't draw out the express bus network, but I wonder how Metro will advertise it - with the MetroRail/Rapid system, or with seperate maps?

 

Edit:

Here's a link to an interactive map, where you can zoom in on the lines and stops

https://www.scribblemaps.com/maps/view/MetroNext_Phase_1/MgAYuARyHE

Edited by cspwal
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here's an old light rail map for comparison.  Seems like there are more stops on the BRT alignment.

UlineMap.png

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It looks like the only extra stop on the BRT version of the University line is at Chimney rock - the rest of it is vast extensions of the original line

 

Same thing for the uptown line - the only extra stop appears to be at Westheimer...which is such a no brainier stop I don't know why it was ever not included

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I think I went back and forth with various peeps, including @Houston19514 and I think iah, about lightrail and my automatic disposition towards it, and I gotta say, they helped me rethink it and seeing the maps with the various funds associated with each line really shows that for somewhere like Houston, with so much ground to cover, BRT might be the better option. Cheers to people helping other people see the other side of things. The BRT lines for uptown, inner katy, and IAH look...great! Almost exactly what Houston needs.

 

So Richmond will have dedicated, enforced lanes like Uptown or nah? They have to, right? Otherwise its moreso MetroBoost? 

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I mean, we haven't seen any final drawings (nor do they exist yet) or anything, but that's the idea. Part of the reason for using Richmond is that it has plenty of right of way to use for dedicated lanes.

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What I'm more concerned about for the "University" line (is that going to be it's name?) is once it gets east of Wheeler station - there's less right of way, and the route isn't as clear

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What I'm concerned about is the University line at S. Rice and Westpark. 

 

Bubba's Texas Burger Shack must survive!

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On 2/6/2020 at 1:22 PM, wxman said:

This city, known for its innovation in aeronotics and space along with advanced medicine is so freaking backwards. When will city officials understand that buses are NOT sexy and they have a negative connotation that they serve only the lower classes of people in our city--lone exception being The Woodlands Express.

 

Trains are much fancier, sexier and attractive and the focus should be bringing commuter rail to the main suburban centers like Sugar Land, Katy, Clear Lake, The Woodlands and Kingwood. Buses are a thing of the past. They add to congestion, ride slowly in the fast lanes and are constantly stopping on main thoroughfares like Westheimer backing up cars and traffic to let one or two people off at a time. 

 

To see so much planning and energy being put into a stupid bus is typical government at work. So much money, so much time and so little in the way of moving our city into the 21st century. 

 

The high speed rail is also sort of a joke on Houston's end. The main terminal is in a piss poor location at a conjunction of two major, clogged freeways that is convenient for exactly nobody unless you live in Oak Forest. To stop before even reaching Houston is silly. I mean is it asking too much to at least get it to the Galleria area? It would be best to get it downtown like Dallas. 

 

I was just in Sacramento for a company outing and was heading out with coworkers. No one wanted to ride the bus so we instead walked a few extra blocks to the train station. People really have a stigma about buses. It's the whole reason why LA is trying it's best to convert the Orange Line BRT to LRT (aside from the fact that buses have lower capacity). There are so many buses that have limited capacity (you can't attach multiple buses together), LA had to construct overpasses because buses started to back up. Cities of Houston's size don't rely on buses as the primary transit option but Houston is doing this because politicians screwed the voters and city.

 

People will say "but BRT looks different" but it's not that different. It still looks like a regular extended bus and nothing like a light rail train no matter how low to the ground they try to make the bus.

 

And for those clamoring about Metro's Park and Ride, imagine how much higher the ridership would be if it were commuter rail. You'd have more flexibility with being able to get on at numerous stations and not have to fight freeway traffic to enter the HOT lanes (which causes more congestion). I hated being in the Katy Tollway during rush hour if I was stuck behind a Metro bus as they left lane hog because the HOV side is wrongly to the left instead of the right. Plus it'd be bi-directional and run throughout the day and night versus just a few hours in the AM/PM.

 

On 2/20/2020 at 4:37 PM, BEES?! said:

I'm super pro-rail and pro-LRT, but I am also pretty surprised at just how much cheaper it is to build BRT than LRT. I totally get why, and I'm not knocking LRT, but wow that is pretty nuts, and it really makes a lot of sense why METRO's opting to go this route, and I respect it. I was disappointed that old maps that showed heavy implementation of LRT/heavy rail seem to have been scrapped in favor of BRT and less LRT, but now that I've actually seen the cost, and understand that it's been a huge fight for METRO to even get money for these projects at all, it does seem like BRT will be more bang for their buck, let them move more people, and maybe be able to prove that Houston CAN be a transit-friendly city.

 

Those BOOST lines sound neat, too. Are they currently being implemented around town? I think I saw on one of the bike path threads they were (painted bike lanes and 'floating' bus stops). If that's what the BOOST lines will all be like, that will be awesome!

 

Cheap is nice but give me quality any day. That's what LRT lines are when compared to BRT.

 

The University Line from Gulfton to IAH would be absolutely PERFECT for LRT, as would the Inner Katy line. Those are the only two I think Metro should do everything in their power to convert to LRT instead. Those being LRT would change the landscape of Houston. BRT will be a cool novelty for a little while but you won't ever maximize ridership or redevelopment potential with a fancy bus.

 

People keep saying Houston is so different without saying why. Houston is a city seeing huge increases in highrise and urban living due to many factors including floods, downsizing, popularity of inner-city living in general, etc. Density in the urban area is going up across the board. A bus system is not going to properly support the city. No where in the first world is there a major city like Houston who has buses be the preferred method to rail. At best buses are the complement to the rail system. I have no idea why people think Houston will go against that trend with buses. What makes it special?

 

There is a reason why bus routes are converted to rail if ridership is high enough and some of these BRT lines will jump out the gate with ridership high enough to warrant conversion. Why wait until rail constructions gets even more expensive? Was the lesson not learned in the 1980s, early 2000s, etc.? What is Metro going to due when their pensions are sky high because they need to hire 3 operators vs 1 (3 buses for 1 train capacity)?

 

Houston is doing it backwards but time will tell if ridership holds. City has so much potential but it gets squandered. Where's the ambition?

Edited by Trae
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3 hours ago, samagon said:

What I'm concerned about is the University line at S. Rice and Westpark. 

 

Bubba's Texas Burger Shack must survive!

The University line would run south of Westpark, not north.

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Watching a MetroNext Business Now briefing right now.  Some takeaways:

 

University Line

-- University Line is the "premier project in the program".

-- This is going to be one of the first high-capacity transit projects that gets out the door

-- Planners have already started the pre-project development process.  Heading up to FTA in March.

 

Inner Katy

-- Ties into HSR station and Northwest Transit Center, and Uptown BRT

-- Not just a BRT project. Park & Ride buses from 290 and I-10 will also be able to leverage this investment.

-- Already funded.

-- TxDOT will be doing this project.  TxDOT right-of-way.  Metro will be bringing engineering consultants to coordinate with TxDOT.

 

BRT to George Bush Intercontinental

-- Schedule dictated by TxDOT - Metro will be in inner lanes of IH 45 North project. So, probably a little bit more down the road.

-- Will be having engineering consultant to coordinate with TxDOT.

-- Most is in TxDOT right-of-way

 

LRT

-- First LRT project will be expansion of Green and Purple lines to the municipal courthouse.

-- Relative low cost with tremendous benefits.

-- Will be one of first contracts to come out of the hopper.

-- LRT to Hobby - Hobby will probably not be done immediately because of cash flow.

 

Regional Express

-- Park & Ride - 2-way HOV on all major corridors is the grand vision.

-- Better customer experience at the park & rides.  Perhaps mixed-use development.  Perhaps going vertical.

-- Very soon will be soliciting general engineering consultants to re-imagine.

-- 21 new or improved park & ride facilities. Missouri City will be the first to roll out.

-- Looking for innovations; not just massive parking lots.

 

BOOST and Signature

-- Improving the walk or roll to Metro stops.

-- Improving the bus stops. (Digital signage, next bus arrival, solar lighting, programmable spaces to improve experience for riders.)

-- Improving the ride.  Transit signal priority.

-- 2 BOOST added annually for the next 7 years.

-- Very soon will start demonstration aspects of this on the 56-Airline and the 54-Scott.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Trae said:

 

I was just in Sacramento for a company outing and was heading out with coworkers. No one wanted to ride the bus so we instead walked a few extra blocks to the train station. People really have a stigma about buses. It's the whole reason why LA is trying it's best to convert the Orange Line BRT to LRT (aside from the fact that buses have lower capacity). There are so many buses that have limited capacity (you can't attach multiple buses together), LA had to construct overpasses because buses started to back up. Cities of Houston's size don't rely on buses as the primary transit option but Houston is doing this because politicians screwed the voters and city.

 

People will say "but BRT looks different" but it's not that different. It still looks like a regular extended bus and nothing like a light rail train no matter how low to the ground they try to make the bus.

 

And for those clamoring about Metro's Park and Ride, imagine how much higher the ridership would be if it were commuter rail. You'd have more flexibility with being able to get on at numerous stations and not have to fight freeway traffic to enter the HOT lanes (which causes more congestion). I hated being in the Katy Tollway during rush hour if I was stuck behind a Metro bus as they left lane hog because the HOV side is wrongly to the left instead of the right. Plus it'd be bi-directional and run throughout the day and night versus just a few hours in the AM/PM.

 

 

Cheap is nice but give me quality any day. That's what LRT lines are when compared to BRT.

 

The University Line from Gulfton to IAH would be absolutely PERFECT for LRT, as would the Inner Katy line. Those are the only two I think Metro should do everything in their power to convert to LRT instead. Those being LRT would change the landscape of Houston. BRT will be a cool novelty for a little while but you won't ever maximize ridership or redevelopment potential with a fancy bus.

 

People keep saying Houston is so different without saying why. Houston is a city seeing huge increases in highrise and urban living due to many factors including floods, downsizing, popularity of inner-city living in general, etc. Density in the urban area is going up across the board. A bus system is not going to properly support the city. No where in the first world is there a major city like Houston who has buses be the preferred method to rail. At best buses are the complement to the rail system. I have no idea why people think Houston will go against that trend with buses. What makes it special?

 

There is a reason why bus routes are converted to rail if ridership is high enough and some of these BRT lines will jump out the gate with ridership high enough to warrant conversion. Why wait until rail constructions gets even more expensive? Was the lesson not learned in the 1980s, early 2000s, etc.? What is Metro going to due when their pensions are sky high because they need to hire 3 operators vs 1 (3 buses for 1 train capacity)?

 

Houston is doing it backwards but time will tell if ridership holds. City has so much potential but it gets squandered. Where's the ambition?

 

On the one hand you tell us that "No one wanted to ride the bus" (which was apparently not even a BRT bus, so the story was of minimal relevance) and "People really have a stigma about buses" and BRT is not that different.  But then you tell us that "some of these BRT lines will jump out the gate with ridership high enough to warrant conversion" to rail.  You seem confused.

 

How much higher do you imagine ridership would  be if we had commuter rail rather than Park & Ride?  And on what do you base that?  You have the flexibility argument exactly backwards. Park & Rides serve many different stations.  What is the benefit to an individual commuter to have a particular train stop at numerous stations?  An individual commuter really only needs/wants one boarding station per ride. Any additional stations just lengthen the commute.  FYI, the Katy Tollway is bi-directional and is open 24-7.  The MetroNext vision is for all major freeways to eventually have bidirectional 24-7 HOV or HOT lanes.

 

As for LA's Orange Line, it opened in 2005 and I understand their plan is to convert it to light rail by 2050 -- 2050!! Not bad, if a transit agency can get 45 years of service out of a route and then repurpose most of the infrastructure for another mode of service.  Seems like a pretty good plan.

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52 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

 

On the one hand you tell us that "No one wanted to ride the bus" (which was apparently not even a BRT bus, so the story was of minimal relevance) and "People really have a stigma about buses" and BRT is not that different.  But then you tell us that "some of these BRT lines will jump out the gate with ridership high enough to warrant conversion" to rail.  You seem confused.

 

How much higher do you imagine ridership would  be if we had commuter rail rather than Park & Ride?  And on what do you base that?  You have the flexibility argument exactly backwards. Park & Rides serve many different stations.  What is the benefit to an individual commuter to have a particular train stop at numerous stations?  An individual commuter really only needs/wants one boarding station per ride. Any additional stations just lengthen the commute.  FYI, the Katy Tollway is bi-directional and is open 24-7.  The MetroNext vision is for all major freeways to eventually have bidirectional 24-7 HOV or HOT lanes.

 

As for LA's Orange Line, it opened in 2005 and I understand their plan is to convert it to light rail by 2050 -- 2050!! Not bad, if a transit agency can get 45 years of service out of a route and then repurpose most of the infrastructure for another mode of service.  Seems like a pretty good plan.

 

I was a little exaggerate with the "no one" but do you really think buses are viewed the same as rail? Some of these BRT lines will be replacing highly used bus corridors which is why out of the gate they will have high ridership. But there is a limit to bus capacity, just like there is a limit to light rail capacity, just like there is a limit to heavy rail capacity, etc.

 

The flexibility option is not backwards and there are of course different ways each can be flexible. Sure, you might have to make a transfer (after walking a couple blocks) if it were commuter rail, but that's it. The benefit of having commuter rail stops are:

 

1. More potential for TODs, especially in suburban locations. Do you get this at PnR stations? No. You just have a dead parking lot most of the time.

2. Higher capacity trains. One commuter rail car can hold up to 200 people. Now multiple that by 5 or 7 depending on how many cars can be linked up in the train. What's the capacity of the Metro "Greyhounds"? Maybe 100?

3. Avoiding traffic. Current Metro buses sit in the same traffic as cars and don't have priority other than being in the HOV lane.

 

I'm basing the higher ridership on the fact that Houston has a centralized job core, good usage already with PnR buses, and that rail is more attractive thus bringing more riders. On top of that, the bi-directional travel board would be going on all day during the day and weekends. It's much easier to schedule trips if you're taking a train as there's less variables than with dealing with buses.

 

As for the LA Orange Line, here's a little history. The San Fernando Valley had decent density even back in the 80s when this was first proposed. Initially it was going to be a heavy rail line but there was a very powerful religious group that fought it to the end. So Metro (LA) compromised and built the BRT line. Full conversion is said to take place by 2050 meaning it can happen sooner and it likely will. The reason for that is there are fast-tracked rail projects in the San Fernando Valley (thanks Olympics 2028) and some funds may be diverted to the BRT-to-LRT conversion. Politicians who cover portions of the Valley served by the Orange Line have publicly stated that traffic movement and redevelopment was hindered due to it being a bus line. They see the projects going up along other rail lines, even suburban ones like the Gold Line in the San Gabriel Valley, and want more.

 

Edit: I am curious about Metro's long range plans for the commuter buses. Do they plan to make it like the Silver Line in LA? It's built within the tollway on the 110 Freeway from DTLA to San Pedro/Long Beach area. There are multiple stations in the middle of the freeway throughout that are very similar to rail stations. If Metro were to do something like this for Houston and run the buses longer, I can see it being a big success. But I doubt we'll see the freeways engineered to allow for stations.

Edited by Trae

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3 hours ago, Trae said:

 

There are so many buses that have limited capacity (you can't attach multiple buses together), LA had to construct overpasses because buses started to back up.

 

I personally see this as the biggest issue with buses (BRT, or whatever name they give it).

 

I am so glad my office days downtown doesn't take me down Louisiana in the afternoons. On the days that I have to cross Louisiana during rush hour, it never fails there is a bus that ends up pulling into the intersection in a yellow light, and then leaves most of their ass hanging out in the box which keeps cross traffic from being able to go anywhere.

 

hopefully, the BRT lines that are built prove to be so busy that they need to be converted to LRT immediately, but from looking at the ridership (at least when I see people on the trains) for the green and purple lines? they could be BRT with no problem. I suppose we'll see if in 10 years they still have BRT level numbers?

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1 minute ago, Trae said:

 

A little exaggerate with the "no one" but do you really think buses are viewed the same as rail? Some of these BRT lines will be replacing highly used bus corridors which is why out of the gate they will have high ridership. But there is a limit to bus capacity, just like there is a limit to light rail capacity, just like there is a limit to heavy rail capacity, etc.

 

The flexibility option is not backwards and there are of course different ways each can be flexible. Sure, you might have to make a transfer (after walking a couple blocks) if it were commuter rail, but that's it. The benefit of having commuter rail stops are:

 

1. More potential for TODs, especially in suburban locations. Do you get this at PnR stations? No. You just have a dead parking lot most of the time.

2. Higher capacity trains. One commuter rail car can hold up to 200 people. Now multiple that by 5 or 7 depending on how many cars can be linked up in the train. What's the capacity of the Metro "Greyhounds"? Maybe 100?

3. Avoiding traffic. Current Metro buses sit in the same traffic as cars and don't have priority other than being in the HOV lane.

 

I'm basing the higher ridership based on the fact that Houston has a centralized job core, good usage already with PnR buses, and that rail is more attractive thus bringing more riders. On top of that, the bi-directional travel board would be going on all day during the day and weekends. It's much easier to schedule trips if you're taking a train as there's less variables than with dealing with buses.

 

As for the LA Orange Line, here's a little history. The San Fernando Valley had decent density even back in the 80s when this was first proposed. Initially it was going to be a heavy rail line but there was a very powerful religious group that fought it to the end. So Metro (LA) compromised and built the BRT line. Full conversion is said to take place by 2050 meaning it can happen sooner and it likely will. The reason for that is there are fast-tracked rail projects in the San Fernando Valley (thanks Olympics 2028) and some funds may be diverted to the BRT-to-LRT conversion. Politicians who cover portions of the Valley served by the Orange Line have publicly stated that traffic movement and redevelopment was hindered due to it being a bus line. They see the projects going up along other rail lines, even suburban ones like the Gold Line in the San Gabriel Valley, and want more.

 

You're not making your point very well.  If, as you admit, there is a limit to capacity for every system, perhaps it makes the most sense to choose the one that provides the capacity you need for any reasonable time line, like say 45 - 50 years (see your LA Orange line example).

 

1.  Not sure why there would be more potential for TODs.  I imagine you'll be able to quickly provide me with a long list of all of the TODs you are familiar with at commuter rail stations...  (yes, I'm being sarastic).  In any event, one of the MetroNext visions (which I actually mentioned in my earlier post) is to reimagine our Park & Ride lots with  the idea having them NOT be just giant parking lots.

 

2. Again, let's put capacity where it will serve a purpose.  Is there any scenario where we really need commuter rail cars that hold 200 people?  Rather than providing high-capacity/low frequency service (as commuter rail tends to be), aren't commuter better served by right-sized capacity/frequent service?

 

3.  Ah, yes... Metro buses sit in the same traffic as cars, except when they don't (which is a good portion of the time.) Nevertheless, that is a flaw in the current system, but see the MetroNext plan to fix that.  Of course you ignore the fact that Metro buses also get commuters much closer to their ultimate destination without another transfer.  Commuter rail can never do that as well.

 

If you really think the Orange line will likely be fully converted to light rail sooner than 2050, you don't know how California works (or doesn't work).  😉

 

I asked you earlier how many additional commuters you imagine would use commuter rail.  Of course you don't have an answer.  Here's some useful information to consider:

 

The Southern California Metrolink commuter rail system operates on seven lines with 62 stations and 534 miles of rail in a metropolitan area more than twice the size (both geographically and as to population) of Houston.  Metrolink averages about 40,000 boardings on a typical weekday.

 

Metro's park & ride system covering a smaller area and serving a far smaller population, averages almost 28,000 on a typical weekday. 

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18 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 

You're not making your point very well.  If, as you admit, there is a limit to capacity for every system, perhaps it makes the most sense to choose the one that provides the capacity you need for any reasonable time line, like say 45 - 50 years (see your LA Orange line example).

 

1.  Not sure why there would be more potential for TODs.  I imagine you'll be able to quickly provide me with a long list of all of the TODs you are familiar with at commuter rail stations...  (yes, I'm being sarastic).  In any event, one of the MetroNext visions (which I actually mentioned in my earlier post) is to reimagine our Park & Ride lots with  the idea having them NOT be just giant parking lots.

 

2. Again, let's put capacity where it will serve a purpose.  Is there any scenario where we really need commuter rail cars that hold 200 people?  Rather than providing high-capacity/low frequency service (as commuter rail tends to be), aren't commuter better served by right-sized capacity/frequent service?

 

3.  Ah, yes... Metro buses sit in the same traffic as cars, except when they don't (which is a good portion of the time.) Nevertheless, that is a flaw in the current system, but see the MetroNext plan to fix that.  Of course you ignore the fact that Metro buses also get commuters much closer to their ultimate destination without another transfer.  Commuter rail can never do that as well.

 

If you really think the Orange line will likely be fully converted to light rail sooner than 2050, you don't know how California works (or doesn't work).  😉

 

I asked you earlier how many additional commuters you imagine would use commuter rail.  Of course you don't have an answer.  Here's some useful information to consider:

 

The Southern California Metrolink commuter rail system operates on seven lines with 62 stations and 534 miles of rail in a metropolitan area more than twice the size (both geographically and as to population) of Houston.  Metrolink averages about 40,000 boardings on a typical weekday.

 

Metro's park & ride system covering a smaller area and serving a far smaller population, averages almost 28,000 on a typical weekday. 

 

1. Because TODs most often form around rail stations. I have not seen TODs development around bus stations but let me know if I'm missing something there. Not even LA's Silver Line has TODs.

 

2. Yes during rush hour. Have you seen some of these PnR lots during those times? I admit it's been years since I've seen one but the 99/I-10 lot was my home. You see lines of people waiting for their bus and if it fills up they have to wait for the next one. I have to say it's much easier to go online or pull up the train schedule app and coordinate around that. Then you just adjust the train length throughout the day based on rush hour, special events, etc. It's a set schedule everyday that is more reliable than buses. Take it from someone who has used both systems.

 

3. No Metro buses definitely sit in the same traffic. Countless times I've seen Metro buses fight across 4-5 lanes of traffic on the Katy to exit in order to get to the PnR. Other freeways have concrete barrier HOVs, but again this causes backups as the buses move slower than personal vehicles. Meanwhile, the commuter rail train I ride on in LA goes 70-80 MPH between stops.

 

4. I agree CA is slow but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Orange Line converted much earlier (by 2030) because LA has been awarded quite a bit in federal funding. The Orange Line conversion is one of the higher priority projects.

 

Now about your rail numbers, you have to also consider that Metrolink (which is increasing in ridership) is not the only rail system out here. People also use the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, then there is the Red Line in North Hollywood that acts as a commuter station. You also have the Blue Line from Long Beach and the Gold Line in the San Gabriel Valley that are built like commuter rail systems (especially the Gold Line in the SGV). The Houston PnR is just about the only way people are getting to the jobs within Houston's core via transit.. You also have to consider LA is more decentralized than Houston (like DFW). Houston is built more like Chicago which means building a hub-and-spoke rail system makes even more sense.

Edited by Trae

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It's a few years old, but this is an interesting piece on TOD: https://www.citylab.com/life/2013/09/surprising-key-making-transit-oriented-development-work/6992/

 

TLDR: TOD success comes more from municipal/agency support and incentives than from any particular transit type. Example BRT lines from Cleveland and Pittsburgh are given as success and failures. 

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11 minutes ago, Texasota said:

It's a few years old, but this is an interesting piece on TOD: https://www.citylab.com/life/2013/09/surprising-key-making-transit-oriented-development-work/6992/

 

TLDR: TOD success comes more from municipal/agency support and incentives than from any particular transit type. Example BRT lines from Cleveland and Pittsburgh are given as success and failures. 

 

Not just TODs though but new mixed-use development in general. Which projects are commanding the highest price per sq ft in Houston right now? The ones nearest the current rail lines, with Uptown/River Oaks being an obvious exception due to wealth.

 

A lot has changed since 2013. There are definitely cities out there expanding TOD policies for highly used bus routes (Chicago doing it for two or three lines) but of course those are complement routes to the main rail lines. In order to make it work for a bus line you're going to need high frequency service.

 

I hope Houston is successful going with all these buses versus higher quality rail, but I have my doubts based on perception of bus vs. rail by the general public, the lower capacity, and more variables.

Edited by Trae

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I don't think price per square foot is the only measure of success, but considering that we currently have light rail but not true BRT (at least not operating yet), I'm not sure there's a useful comparison to make right now.

 

But also, some of the best mixed-use developments in the city are nowhere near the light rail. Montrose, the Heights, and everything in between have the obvious examples - think about the various massive developments being built along Allen Parkway. Or even smaller (not technically mixed-use, but less auto-oriented at least) developments like what replaced the Heights Post Office - that was going to be a strip mall but got pushback from the Historic Commission so ended up a lot better.

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2 hours ago, Texasota said:

I don't think price per square foot is the only measure of success, but considering that we currently have light rail but not true BRT (at least not operating yet), I'm not sure there's a useful comparison to make right now.

 

But also, some of the best mixed-use developments in the city are nowhere near the light rail. Montrose, the Heights, and everything in between have the obvious examples - think about the various massive developments being built along Allen Parkway. Or even smaller (not technically mixed-use, but less auto-oriented at least) developments like what replaced the Heights Post Office - that was going to be a strip mall but got pushback from the Historic Commission so ended up a lot better.

 

Midtown, Downtown, and East DT definitely have the most though and that's where the rail is. It'll be interesting to see how it shapes out but I'll bet almost anything that the areas nearest rail corridors will be more desirable in the long run than bus corridors. It's the case in every major city so I don't see Houston bucking that trend (outside of Uptown/RO of course), but I could be wrong.

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Well, that's not entirely true. Pittsburgh is a good example of a bus corridor (the East Busway) that's at least correlated with a successful corridor.

 

Most major cities in this country haven't implemented true, high-quality BRT lines, so it's hard to really predict what kind of impacts Metro's plan will have. I linked the article earlier because it suggested that what really matters is less any particular transit technology, and more the support (financial, regulatory, and otherwise) of as many local agencies, authorities, non-profits, public-private partnerships etc as possible. 

 

Given how Metro seems to be approaching this, the direction the Planning Department has been moving, the mayor's public statements, and the City's recent hiring of a Chief Transportation Planner, I am *genuinely hopeful* that transit and TOD will get that support.

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1 hour ago, Trae said:

 

Midtown, Downtown, and East DT definitely have the most though and that's where the rail is. It'll be interesting to see how it shapes out but I'll bet almost anything that the areas nearest rail corridors will be more desirable in the long run than bus corridors. It's the case in every major city so I don't see Houston bucking that trend (outside of Uptown/RO of course), but I could be wrong.

 

Midtown, Downtown and East DT have the most mixed-use developments in all of the City?  I'm skeptical.  There are mixed-use developments existing and planned  throughout this city, many of them much larger than any of the mixed-use developments in Midtown, Downtown, or EADO. Without trying very hard, I came up with 21 that are no where near any rail line.

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On 2/21/2020 at 1:18 PM, cspwal said:

Downtown detail:

vtYmJKK.jpg

 

 

Wonder if they're going to redevelop the downtown part into an almost central station type area. Would be cool since it's going to be the largest convergence of rapid transit in the area. 

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First bond project announced?

 

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/metro-bus-red-light-upgrade-BOOST-houston-15093723.php

 

Light priority along two bus lines

 

Quote

Metropolitan Transit Authority is set to upgrade a pair of Houston bus routes, hoping that raising the quality of bus service will prove the key to increasing transit use.

 

The 54 Scott and the 56 Montrose/Airline routes will be the first put to the test of as part of Metro’s “Bus Operations Optimized System Treatments” — aka BOOST. The corridors will be decked out with spruced-up bus stops and shelters, bike racks and better sidewalk and trail access where practical. Digital signs at bus stops will give real-time information about when the next bus is coming.

 

Some of the most striking improvements, however, will be less about what riders can see and more about the technology that will provide buses an advantage by communicating with traffic signals. That could in some locations give the bus extra time to make a changing green light, or hurry through the red-light cycle to decrease the time the bus spends at an intersection.

 

“Getting through that intersection, if we can hold the green light a little longer, improves our travel time,” Metro CEO Tom Lambert said.

Less time sitting at stoplights could make transit more attractive.

 

“What they are trying to do is drive bus ridership,” said Jeff Weatherford, deputy director for Houston Public Works, which is working with Metro along the corridors.

 

Construction along the corridors is expected to start in the coming months and take 18-to-24 months to complete, transit officials said.

 

The BOOST corridors are a major component of Metro’s long-range transit plans, the first phase of which voters approved last November, allowing the transit agency to borrow up to $3.5 billion to build $7.5 billion in projects. The remaining money will come from current funds and expected federal contributions, Metro officials said.

 

The Scott and Airline routes were chosen as the first of 17 BOOST routes because both follow bustling commercial corridors, have high ridership — both typically average around 6,000 daily boardings — and development along the routes is walk-able by Houston standards, officials said. Both lines also cross other core routes in the Metro system, such as the Red and Purple light rail lines and the Route 82 Westheimer, Route 2 Bellaire and Route 4 Beechnut bus lines.

 

Compared to the $5.3 billion in bus rapid transit and light rail construction Metro plans over the next 20 years, the BOOST corridors are cheap — $179 million for the 17 lines and enhanced service along Westheimer.

 

Unlike the rail and rapid bus plans, BOOST is less about re-inventing transit in Houston than rebuilding it. Most of the spending is aimed at smaller block-by-block upgrades such as wider sidewalks, bike lanes, accessible and convenient shelters.

 

Those sorts of upgrades are exactly what many riders would like to see. Standing by a sun-faded shelter strewn with trash north of Reed Road around noon Friday, Marguerite Jackson, 58, said improvements are needed along the routes — not just at transit centers.

“People will take care of something that they think is being taken care of,” Jackson said, noting that trash piles up at bus stops where the trash is not picked up. “That’s why some people don’t ride the bus. Unless you have to. They aren’t going to get on something that’s dirty.”

Waiting at the same stop about 45 minutes later, Stephen Hall, 55, also cited cleanliness as a concern, but said he would be more excited if buses could move more efficiently.

 

“If you tell me it’s faster, I say ‘let’s do it,’” Hall said, noting his trip to work along Fuqua requires two lengthy bus trips along busy city streets.

Metro hopes to make trips faster by putting GPS devices or beacons on buses that communicate directly with traffic lights along the route.

“It allows us to take full advantage of what we can do,” said Andrew Skabowski, Metro’s chief operations officer. “It gives you a lot more freedom and a lot more ability.”

 

The beacons, also used by fire trucks and ambulances, alert so-called smart traffic signals as they approach. The traffic signal recognizes the beacon on the bus and knows which direction it is traveling and how far away it is.

 

If the light is green and the bus is on pace to arrive, the signal could keep the green active a few seconds longer to allow the bus to pass through.

 

In the event a bus arrives at a red light, the signal could quicken the cycle so the bus gets a green light a little sooner.

“Both ways, it gets you a little extra green,” Skabowski said.

 

City traffic managers are working with Metro to see how signal prioritization can work on Houston streets.

“We are working them by an intersection by intersection process,” Skabowski said.

 

In many cases, giving the bus priority would be too disruptive to other traffic. At major streets, with multiple left turn arrows and constant right turns, it is unlikely a bus could benefit much without disrupting traffic.

 

“It’s not going to work everywhere, but there are a lot of places where it is going to make a difference,” Weatherford predicted.

The aim, Lambert said, is to make bus service more attractive to riders, both in comfort and time, and to use Metro’s vehicles more efficiently by reducing the time they wait at bus stops and stoplights.

 

In some cases, that also will mean a different place to stop. Typically, bus stops are situated prior to major intersections as the bus moves along the street. The thinking at the time is it was safer and better for traffic and riders to stop before big intersections.

What it led to was a lot of delay at red lights, when a bus stopped and then stopped again at the intersection. That slowed not only buses, but the traffic backed up behind it.

 

By placing the stops past stoplights, perhaps in spots where Metro can carve out a little space to pull away from other traffic, the buses can make better time along the routes and avoid cutting off other drivers.

 

“Cars behind on the rightmost lane also get through to the signal,” Metro board member Sanjay Ramabhadran said.

 

Metro officials are hoping the Scott and Montrose/Airline BOOST routes will help the transit agency learn how to build better bus corridors where practical. That will make the other 15 corridors to come built a little faster, transit officials said.

 

“Once you get these proved out, you can do multiples at a time,” said Metro board member Lisa Castaneda.

 

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That's great that Metro is moving so fast, and it makes me wonder - 

Could part of the Westheimer Signature Service be the Lower Westheimer rebuild? Could this be a way to get that done?

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, Texasota said:

That's great that Metro is moving so fast, and it makes me wonder - 

Could part of the Westheimer Signature Service be the Lower Westheimer rebuild? Could this be a way to get that done?

 

The Signature Service is completely by passing that entire part of the corridor unfortunately. Its going to go from Downtown up onto the Spur to 59, then to Greenway, Then hit Westheimer some time west of River Oaks, and then continue Westheimer all the way to Hwy 6. Montrose keeps getting the shaft when it comes to stuff like this.

 

EDIT: We will get "BOOST" service running down Lower Westheimer. I hope that pushes the Lower Westheimer Reconstruction up the ladder as far as projects are concerned.

Edited by Luminare
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Separating out the 82 and the "signature service" makes sense to me, but calling it the Westheimer Signature Service when it completely avoids the best know part of the street seems ...questionable. 

 

Still, as long as the 82 is getting the BOOST treatment this could still be a way in.

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Was just reading the Walkable Places/Transit-Oriented Development updates after public comments, and they have decided to only include BRT/LRT towards the TOD standards, which is kind of a shame. There are building design standards, but a parking reduction with being on a Primary TOD street or a reduction on a secondary TOD street. Basically means that if there is a BRT station at Richmond @ Montrose then you'll have no parking requirements there, but you would still have full parking requirements for Westheimer @ Montrose. 

 

And taking the 82 might be twice as fast to get downtown versus taking the BRT into Midtown and then switching to the LRT? 

 

Would have been nice for whatever they do to the Half-priced books/spec's/Jack in the Box corner of Montrose/Westheimer to at least have some flexibility. 

 

 

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13 minutes ago, wilcal said:

Was just reading the Walkable Places/Transit-Oriented Development updates after public comments, and they have decided to only include BRT/LRT towards the TOD standards, which is kind of a shame. There are building design standards, but a parking reduction with being on a Primary TOD street or a reduction on a secondary TOD street. Basically means that if there is a BRT station at Richmond @ Montrose then you'll have no parking requirements there, but you would still have full parking requirements for Westheimer @ Montrose. 

 

And taking the 82 might be twice as fast to get downtown versus taking the BRT into Midtown and then switching to the LRT? 

 

Would have been nice for whatever they do to the Half-priced books/spec's/Jack in the Box corner of Montrose/Westheimer to at least have some flexibility. 

 

 

I guess I'm confused as the shame in not having parking requirements??? Isn't that what we want???

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5 hours ago, wilcal said:

First bond project announced?

 

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/metro-bus-red-light-upgrade-BOOST-houston-15093723.php

 

Light priority along two bus lines

 

 

 

New driving strategy...instead of going around buses stay right behind them to take advantage of the signal preference.

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2 hours ago, Luminare said:

 

The Signature Service is completely by passing that entire part of the corridor unfortunately. Its going to go from Downtown up onto the Spur to 59, then to Greenway, Then hit Westheimer some time west of River Oaks, and then continue Westheimer all the way to Hwy 6. Montrose keeps getting the shaft when it comes to stuff like this.

 

EDIT: We will get "BOOST" service running down Lower Westheimer. I hope that pushes the Lower Westheimer Reconstruction up the ladder as far as projects are concerned.

 

Sounds like the signature service is intended to get closer-in (closer than the park and rides, anyway) commuters to downtown faster.  Doesn't Montrose already have fairly good service considering the distance between inner loop destinations?

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3 hours ago, Luminare said:

The Signature Service is completely by passing that entire part of the corridor unfortunately. Its going to go from Downtown up onto the Spur to 59, then to Greenway, Then hit Westheimer some time west of River Oaks, and then continue Westheimer all the way to Hwy 6. Montrose keeps getting the shaft when it comes to stuff like this.

This sounds very similar to if not identical to) the discontinued 53 Westheimer.
I often ride the 82 Westheimer and it's not unusual to wait 20 (or more) minutes for a bus, then have three show up. METRO drivers have told me that the delay is caused by traffic around 610/Galleria area. 
A welcome addition would be a Local that runs from downtown down Elgin/Westheimer and turns around inside the Loop (perhaps at Highland Village), which would avoid that bottleneck and provide service that runs on a more regular basis.

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15 hours ago, dbigtex56 said:

This sounds very similar to if not identical to) the discontinued 53 Westheimer.
I often ride the 82 Westheimer and it's not unusual to wait 20 (or more) minutes for a bus, then have three show up. METRO drivers have told me that the delay is caused by traffic around 610/Galleria area. 
A welcome addition would be a Local that runs from downtown down Elgin/Westheimer and turns around inside the Loop (perhaps at Highland Village), which would avoid that bottleneck and provide service that runs on a more regular basis.

 

I ride the 82 as well, and its actually a good route and is pretty busy, it just needs to be given priority. It goes straight from Downtown, to Midtown, to Montrose, and then to Uptown. The problem child for that route is Lower Westheimer. They can't keep kicking that can down the road. That road is bad, really bad. While I don't think bringing this part of Westheimer down to 1 lane each with a turn in the middle is the best idea, it is better than nothing, and at least the streets and sidewalks will be built to todays standards and work structurally with buses. Houston also has a bad problem with traffic light syncing. With this town its always the little things which then add up to bigger structural problems. In my opinion they need to just rip the bandaid off and fix this area so that Westheimer works as an actual Major thoroughfare that its suppose to be. I would give that area the Commonwealth / Waugh treatment. Designate another road for one direction of track and make Westheimer another. Preferably Westheimer would be West traffic only until you reach Yupon, and then you make Lovett Blvd for East bound traffic. 1 lane going either way just on Westheimer is just not going to cut it with this road effectively becoming a major urban transit route. If you could implement what I've said above then you could bring in dedicated lines for a BRT or LRT. As far as what happens west of Yupon...Man I've been thinking about this one for ages. There would be a lot of disruption either way you do it, but I think finding a way to either use Hawthorne or Missouri St's would be the best bet until you get to Shepherd, and then you would merge them back into a single 4 lane road. Until something like this is done you will never see something robust transit wise for this area because there is just not enough space with current Westheimer ROW unless you go underground.

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Or you just cut Lower Westheimer down to (at most) 1 lane, one-way for car traffic, and reserve the rest of its ROW as dedicated transit lanes. You could take a block-by-block approach like with Main Street, and occasionally have a 2nd lane, or on-street parking, or a loading lane as rooms allows. 

 

Building out a second street through the neighborhood as half of a couplet sounds like an awful, mid-century in the worst way idea. 

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2 minutes ago, Texasota said:

Or you just cut Lower Westheimer down to (at most) 1 lane, one-way for car traffic, and reserve the rest of its ROW as dedicated transit lanes. You could take a block-by-block approach like with Main Street, and occasionally have a 2nd lane, or on-street parking, or a loading lane as rooms allows. 

 

Building out a second street through the neighborhood as half of a couplet sounds like an awful, mid-century in the worst way idea. 

 

I think its hilarious how now everything wrong about anything is because modernism haha. It wasn't the first to do these things, and it won't be the last. The only thing that was different about Modernism was shear scale. I'm not proposing a Robert Moses style speedway directly through the middle of the neighborhood that is 12 lanes wide with monolithic towers flanking them, I'm talking about using a large blvd that isn't being properly utilized, so it can handle a growing infrastructure problem, and its not just with cars, but transit in general. Big ideas or anything of scale isn't some mid-century thing.

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20 hours ago, Texasota said:

That's great that Metro is moving so fast, and it makes me wonder - 

Could part of the Westheimer Signature Service be the Lower Westheimer rebuild? Could this be a way to get that done?

 

19 hours ago, Texasota said:

Separating out the 82 and the "signature service" makes sense to me, but calling it the Westheimer Signature Service when it completely avoids the best know part of the street seems ...questionable. 

 

Still, as long as the 82 is getting the BOOST treatment this could still be a way in.

 

Public Works is participating in BOOST improvements, so you would have to think that Lower Westheimer reconstruction would integrate the two together. I know that I should have that much faith in the system, but I'll keep yelling about it until it happens. Lower Westheimer still on CIP for 2023. 

 

18 hours ago, j_cuevas713 said:

I guess I'm confused as the shame in not having parking requirements??? Isn't that what we want???

 

I was saying that it is a shame that a far superior intersection for walkability and transit times to downtown will still have full parking requirements when a place down the street wouldn't because it has the wrong kind of bus service. However, I've heard hints that Lower Westheimer will be designated under the Walkable Places ordinance.

 

WP will require a Special Parking Area (SPA) to adjust parking requirements, of which Lower Westheimer already has one from 2016, but it didn't actually lower parking requirements, it just added flexibility to centralize garage spaces, put parking lots down the street (like Aladdin), etc. 

 

The SPA process is a giant PITA, especially compared to unilateral designation via ordinance like TOD is doing. 

 

17 hours ago, august948 said:

 

Sounds like the signature service is intended to get closer-in (closer than the park and rides, anyway) commuters to downtown faster.  Doesn't Montrose already have fairly good service considering the distance between inner loop destinations?

 

Yes. It's to provide a faster option to get to downtown from outside 610. Will be interesting to compare the speed of the Uptown BRT to NWTC to proposed elevated BRT/HOV line from 610 to Downtown to the proposed signature bus service.

 

16 hours ago, dbigtex56 said:

This sounds very similar to if not identical to) the discontinued 53 Westheimer.
I often ride the 82 Westheimer and it's not unusual to wait 20 (or more) minutes for a bus, then have three show up. METRO drivers have told me that the delay is caused by traffic around 610/Galleria area. 
A welcome addition would be a Local that runs from downtown down Elgin/Westheimer and turns around inside the Loop (perhaps at Highland Village), which would avoid that bottleneck and provide service that runs on a more regular basis.

 

Yeah, it's a massive problem at rush hour. Bunching is a complicated problem that actually gets worse because of the knock-on effects of more people needing to board and get off as the lead bus is further delayed. Long lines are more susceptible as well. Maybe we'll get a 53 equivalent when BOOST is launched. 

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48 minutes ago, Luminare said:

 

I ride the 82 as well, and its actually a good route and is pretty busy, it just needs to be given priority. It goes straight from Downtown, to Midtown, to Montrose, and then to Uptown.

 

 

 

So I agree with part of what you are saying. 

 

Quote

The problem child for that route is Lower Westheimer. They can't keep kicking that can down the road. That road is bad, really bad. While I don't think bringing this part of Westheimer down to 1 lane each with a turn in the middle is the best idea, it is better than nothing, and at least the streets and sidewalks will be built to todays standards and work structurally with buses.

 

It's certainly the lowest quality section. It's brutal to ride in the 82 and get jostled around.

 

Quote

Houston also has a bad problem with traffic light syncing.

 

I don't know if I 100% agree with that. It's highly effective in Downtown and Midtown for North/South commuters to get to 59, but that results in unsafe driving practices with people speeding considerably. 

 

Quote

With this town its always the little things which then add up to bigger structural problems. In my opinion they need to just rip the bandaid off and fix this area so that Westheimer works as an actual Major thoroughfare that its suppose to be. I would give that area the Commonwealth / Waugh treatment. Designate another road for one direction of track and make Westheimer another. Preferably Westheimer would be West traffic only until you reach Yupon, and then you make Lovett Blvd for East bound traffic. 1 lane going either way just on Westheimer is just not going to cut it with this road effectively becoming a major urban transit route. If you could implement what I've said above then you could bring in dedicated lines for a BRT or LRT. As far as what happens west of Yupon...Man I've been thinking about this one for ages. There would be a lot of disruption either way you do it, but I think finding a way to either use Hawthorne or Missouri St's would be the best bet until you get to Shepherd, and then you would merge them back into a single 4 lane road. Until something like this is done you will never see something robust transit wise for this area because there is just not enough space with current Westheimer ROW unless you go underground.

 

That is definitely a bold plan. I always thought that you leave Westheimer as-is and go one-way on Richmond and W. Alabama, but W. Alabama doesn't get all of the way through to 610. 

 

The traffic on Westheimer really isn't that bad. It only backs up at rush hour and it's free-flowing for the most part even when it's reduce to 1 lane in each direction near Dunlavy. We shouldn't be building streets exclusively for rush hour levels of traffic. 

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I didn't say anything about "modernism" broadly speaking; I was specifically referring to post WWII traffic planing that frequently resulted in "upgrading" city streets into one-way couplets to accommodate the number of lanes that were believed necessary.

 

And you're not talking about "using a large boulevard." Lower Westheimer was built as a residential street (Hathaway) that was gradually expanded to its current, bursting-at-the seams condition. And that's part of why it has remained *relatively* walkable - its scale. 

 

But my larger issue with your suggestion is the prospect of transforming a nearby neighborhood street (like Hawthorne) into a thoroughfare. And just that it solves a problem that doesnt really exist. Cutting down to one lane and moving to dedicated 2-way transit lanes would massively increase the street's capacity through one of the areas in the city best able to take advantage of it. 

 

One of the things people really need to get used to: driving through good neighborhoods is slow. It has to be. Speed destroys neighborhoods.

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14 minutes ago, Texasota said:

I didn't say anything about "modernism" broadly speaking; I was specifically referring to post WWII traffic planing that frequently resulted in "upgrading" city streets into one-way couplets to accommodate the number of lanes that were believed necessary.

 

And you're not talking about "using a large boulevard." Lower Westheimer was built as a residential street (Hathaway) that was gradually expanded to its current, bursting-at-the seams condition. And that's part of why it has remained *relatively* walkable - its scale. 

 

But my larger issue with your suggestion is the prospect of transforming a nearby neighborhood street (like Hawthorne) into a thoroughfare. And just that it solves a problem that doesnt really exist. Cutting down to one lane and moving to dedicated 2-way transit lanes would massively increase the street's capacity through one of the areas in the city best able to take advantage of it. 

 

One of the things people really need to get used to: driving through good neighborhoods is slow. It has to be. Speed destroys neighborhoods.

 

Ok now that we have established that neither of us were or are intending to position ourselves on the extremes maybe now a dialogue can be had here. The reason I said exactly what I said was to see where you are in your frame of mind. Lets dispense with another Robert Moses v. Jane Jacobs battle because none of us are that. I care about this neighborhood just as much as you do, and its why I think there are ways to improve it, just as you would like to see ways to improve it. I will concede that the current plan on the books will be fine for now, but thats only if Montrose remains a mostly single family residential neighborhood...which it isn't. I really could care less about the mobility of people getting from Uptown to Downtown or Museum District to The Heights when it comes to this question, but one can't also deny that Montrose is in a rather unique placement in the city where you have a prominent North/South axis (Montrose Blvd) intersecting a prominent West/East axis (Westheimer Rd) intersecting a prominent Northwest axis just nearby (Commonwealth and Waugh), and once you understand that and then look at the direction the hood is moving towards its going to get rather busy around here. I'm not even advocating for more lanes or more speed for cars. None of that, I'm merely looking at the neighborhood a system within a larger system, and saying...hey this is kind of not working, or its just getting by. The Hawthorne thing can wait because that is another hornets nest all together, but the other part is quite viable. This has nothing to do with a particular "ism" or anything like that. This is me looking at systems and how they work on many scales and saying...this isn't going to work well in the long run for whatever type of mobility we need to find a better solution. Yes the neighborhoods concerns come first, but that doesn't mean that a structural problem doesn't exist. I've looked at this from above, and on the streets themselves, and it could be a lot better, work with the city around it, and be better for the neighborhood. There is a way. Montrose is going to get really big at some point and its probably wise that we start thinking about it.

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...yeah I really didn't say anything about Robert Moses, Jane Jacobs, modernism, or any other "ism."

 

I basically agree with your diagnosis of the infrastructural issue in Montrose; I just disagree with your proposal. The history of couplets is *not* terribly positive, and it's time we start thinking seriously about re-purposing existing infrastructure from low efficiency (cars) to high efficiency (transit). And I genuinely think Westheimer is a good candidate. Montrose (the collection of neighborhoods) has a lot of bypasses - 59, Allen Parkway, W Dallas, Richmond, arguably W Alabama - and Westheimer is much less used east of Shepherd. Thinking of it more like the heart of the neighborhood *and* a high capacity transit corridor makes more sense to me than trying to replicate the theoretical 4-lane road that never really existed.

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One thing I would be in favor of is rethinking Lovett as a proper boulevard and essentially a bypass for east-lower Westheimer. There's plenty of ROW to keep it 2lanes each direction; you might just need to narrow the medians in some places and selectively remove some parking. Now this would of course require two pieces of eminent domain: the long block that is the privately-owned Courtlandt Place (just the street, not the homes), and, on the other end, the lot that Sweetgreen sits on.

 

This would integrate nicely with the removal of the Bagby connector ramp, though it would remain replacing it with a street connection rather than a park.

 

Then you'd probably want to get rid of street parking moving west of that point, so maybe you identify a site or two for public garages. With GFR of course.

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Posted (edited)

Haha, Houston19514. Just trying to find a possible compromise. I do genuinely relish the idea of taking back Courtlandt Place as a public street though. 

Edited by Texasota

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commuters should be encouraged to use Allen Parkway/Kirby to access Westheimer as a through traffic route, rather than taking Westheimer through Montrose.

 

this could be accomplished by making a grade separated through lane on Allen Parkway/Kirby at Shepherd. do this at the same time as you increase to 3 lanes through the River Oaks section (it is 3 lanes on either side of River Oaks, and Kirby is a major thoroughfare, it needs to be built out like one). do all this at the same time you make Westheimer a single lane in each direction, and it just might work.

 

let the richie riches in River Oaks feel some of the through traffic love for once.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Texasota said:

One thing I would be in favor of is rethinking Lovett as a proper boulevard and essentially a bypass for east-lower Westheimer. There's plenty of ROW to keep it 2lanes each direction; you might just need to narrow the medians in some places and selectively remove some parking. Now this would of course require two pieces of eminent domain: the long block that is the privately-owned Courtlandt Place (just the street, not the homes), and, on the other end, the lot that Sweetgreen sits on.

 

This would integrate nicely with the removal of the Bagby connector ramp, though it would remain replacing it with a street connection rather than a park.

 

Then you'd probably want to get rid of street parking moving west of that point, so maybe you identify a site or two for public garages. With GFR of course.

 

Thats basically what I was proposing...

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Yeah I know; I'm just arguing that you don't need the couplet. Lovett has enough capacity on its own, and I think Westheimer west of that *mostly* does as well. 

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Just now, Texasota said:

Yeah I know; I'm just arguing that you don't need the couplet. Lovett has enough capacity on its own, and I think Westheimer west of that *mostly* does as well. 

 

*facepalms*

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Ok, I think you might have been right - we each read what we *thought* the other one was saying into what was basically a general agreement. 

 

What I really latched onto was your referencing Hawthorne - there's just no way to use that (or Missouri or any other parallel street, unless you *maybe* want to mess with Fairview, but I would rather that be used for bike infrastructure) for any kind of through connection without destroying the neighborhood. And just to clarify what I mean by "destroying the neighborhood"  - I actually mean less the buildings than the scale of the blocks and streets. Montrose, as a street grid, is built to an urban scale, and that's an irreplaceable feature. 

 

But even more fundamentally than that, I think we need to talk about replacing existing traffic lanes with transit lanes. And I do think pushing through a parallel street would be fundamentally destructive to the neighborhood. Lovett is a special case because it is already absurdly wide, but there's nothing remotely comparable to that west of its intersection with Westheimer.

 

For cars, I am fully in support of increasing connectivity (as in, transforming Lovett into useable street), but I am actually completely opposed to increasing capacity. Capacity should be addressed by replacing low-efficiency infrastructure (car lanes) with higher efficency (bus lanes)>

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...why not both?

(obviously the answer is money)

 

But seriously, with both you would essentially have an express and a local. 

As defined here they really serve different people. 

 

It will be interesting to see how much variation there is between different BOOST corridors. Maybe Gessner, given its enormous ROW, can get a few more MetroRapid/BRT features.

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