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RECOMMENDATIONS, TWEAKS, ALTERATIONS to Metro Next - Thread

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The goal of this thread is collect and house everyone's recommendations, tweaks, alternations, alternatives, etc... that they would like to see to Metro Next.

 

The current draft which was exhibited this past summer is below:

 

http://ridemetro.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=1651

 

Metro's call for further input on the draft prior to an upcoming referendum in 2019:

 

https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/2018/11/23/312741/metro-moves-to-the-next-phase-in-developing-a-regional-transit-plan/

 

Whether planned or in response to the recent political shift (or both). The winds are changing and with that is a chance to broaden and enrich Metro's vision for their overall goals (2040 vision) and what could be achievable in the upcoming referendum (2019 referendum vision).

I'm curious what the community here thinks is possible. This is without thinking about budgets or costs since we don't know what that could be. Assume for right now you can get what you want (within logical reason of course). What are your ideas or proposals? Light rail? regional rail? BRT? Links to HSR? Connections to Airports? Do you have an idea for an entire system and how it would work or do you just have idea for a small portion? Is this for the upcoming referendum or for what you want in Houston by 2040?

 

Its open forum. Lets try to not stomp on any ideas. Later, if this is a successful thread we can have a thread where we get more critical.

 

I'm partly doing this to get more engagement on this forum, tbh, lately its felt a bit stagnant (with the disappearance of the reaction buttons, etc...).

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METRO needs to stop putting those translucent wraps over the windows and doors of the light rail cars. Although passengers can see out, those who are waiting to board cannot tell which cars are full, which have empty seats, view traffic exiting the car, etc. 
This leads to some cars being underutilized and others overcrowded, also collisions between people exiting and entering the cars.

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Money no object:  There should be grade separated heavy rail everywhere there is/proposed LRT/BRT and where there are commuter buses. 

 

Realistic option:  I'm extremely biased but I think east-west connectors linking the the boulevard project to the red line should be prioritized.   I like LRT but I'll take BRT if it's signaled to make it quicker/equivalent to normal driving and properly maintained.   The plan-A  BRT routes should prioritized over LRT extensions.  Once HSR puts shovels in the ground we should ensure that there are connections to downtown and galleria area through extensions of BRT from Plan-A.  Everything else should be focused on increasing access and availability of current bus network.   I know it's not a METRO thing but last mile using bikes/scooters  makes mass transit more accessible.  Not sure how it would work for Houston but when I rode the bus in Raleigh/Durham  picking up a bike/scooter was convenient to get around the city after getting off the bus.   

 

Bonus: HOU/IAH have express buses that terminate downtown these buses should have a maximum of one stop before reaching downtown.   

Edited by BeerNut

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I've been trying to get around more using the buses and trains, so I have some practical observations:

 - There needs to be much better East/West connection with the galleria.  I think there needs to be LRT/BRT/subway on both Richmond and Westheimer; Richmond could skip a bunch of Montrose to get to Uptown faster, while Westheimer could serve the heart of Montrose.  At the minimum, Westheimer needs to be rebuilt with an eye towards accommodating frequent bendy-buses during high traffic times

 

- Currently, it takes over an hour to get from downtown to Hobby via Metro.  I'm not sure we need an express, point-to-point bus, but some sort of limited service I think should be a priority.  Possibly some sort of limited cross town bus service

 

- the P&R bus system + uber means you can get to pretty much anywhere inside 99 without a car - on weekdays.  During weekends, there is absolutley no service.  I think some sort of modified weekend service would be good, since people still work on the weekends, and there's also events to go to and shopping to do.  The nice buses aren't doing anything anyway, so you would just need drivers to run a couple of routes that hit all the park and rides

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3 minutes ago, cspwal said:

I've been trying to get around more using the buses and trains, so I have some practical observations:

 - There needs to be much better East/West connection with the galleria.  I think there needs to be LRT/BRT/subway on both Richmond and Westheimer; Richmond could skip a bunch of Montrose to get to Uptown faster, while Westheimer could serve the heart of Montrose.  At the minimum, Westheimer needs to be rebuilt with an eye towards accommodating frequent bendy-buses during high traffic times

 

- Currently, it takes over an hour to get from downtown to Hobby via Metro.  I'm not sure we need an express, point-to-point bus, but some sort of limited service I think should be a priority.  Possibly some sort of limited cross town bus service

 

- the P&R bus system + uber means you can get to pretty much anywhere inside 99 without a car - on weekdays.  During weekends, there is absolutley no service.  I think some sort of modified weekend service would be good, since people still work on the weekends, and there's also events to go to and shopping to do.  The nice buses aren't doing anything anyway, so you would just need drivers to run a couple of routes that hit all the park and rides

Well as it stands, I believe the plan for Westheimer is to accommodate buses more. I do agree Richmond Ave could be a direct connector to Uptown with maybe fewer stops. 

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15 hours ago, dbigtex56 said:

METRO needs to stop putting those translucent wraps over the windows and doors of the light rail cars. Although passengers can see out, those who are waiting to board cannot tell which cars are full, which have empty seats, view traffic exiting the car, etc. 
This leads to some cars being underutilized and others overcrowded, also collisions between people exiting and entering the cars.

 

I would add onto this that METRO needs to not over rely on the apps. Apps are not a substitute for proper display boards that signal when the next train or bus will arrive. All light rail stations should have display boards that let people know when the next light rail will arrive and major bus stops at major intersections should have display boards. There isn't a lot of information out there for people to understand when METRO is in service or isn't or if its available or isn't. Plenty of good precedents in the Netherlands, Germany, and even the UK. It not only will make a bigger presence for METRO in a given area, but will make it know when something is happening and more importantly that it is on time.

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Metro does need to get better at having displays at stops - some of the basic signs aren't even legible.  The map case at the Townsen park and ride is so yellowed from the sun that you can't tell what map is even in the case.

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  1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you're riding the rail you pay before you board. If you're riding a bus everyone has to pay as they board. Why not increase travel speed by creating a system whereby bus riders pay before boarding? Make the riding experience/procedure as consistent as possible no matter what type of vehicle is doing the transport. 
  2. Create PPPs to create more density at park-and-ride locations. Instead of expansive parking lots (for the most part), build large parking garages with ground floor retail and hotels and retail above. 
  3. Study the plausibility of making Main Street thru Downtown/Midtown a transit only street (i.e. no more car traffic). Buses and light rail only. Have all P&R buses traveling into Downtown travel on Main--it's very centralized no matter which side of Downtown is your final destination. 

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Right now, I think the park & rides downtown work out pretty well - there's only a few stops and then they go, and they're spread out enough to not have a big back up.  What they could do is have off-board fare collection at the park and ride stops downtown, as well as the park and ride lots.  The current Metro 2040 vision is calling for "BOOST" transit lines with supposedly better service, and off-board fare collection could be part of that too.

 

I like the idea of trying to densify the park and ride locations; they could also try doing that for other transit centers

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Austin has incorporated many of these ideas into their transit system. The MetroRapid lines have limited stops and arrival times continually updated and posted at each stop.
Guadalupe St by UT has bicycle lanes separated from auto traffic. Rental bicycles are conveniently located near the bus stops.

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Would like to see an elevated heavy rail line connecting downtown, midtown, neartown, greenway, and uptown/galleria. 

 

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21 hours ago, felt38 said:

Would like to see an elevated heavy rail line connecting downtown, midtown, neartown, greenway, and uptown/galleria. 

 

 

Yep. TCR Station down Washington to Smith St, then across on Westheimer to the Galleria.

 

This would have impressive ridership and connect all the densest areas inside the loop and just outside of it.

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My opinion: Street-running light rail should be reserved for streets that have important destinations and/or urban, walkable areas. Commuter / light rail lines that extend into low-density suburban areas should run in dedicated ROWs instead of busy streets. And, transit should always be about moving people first, and economic development second.

 

With that said, I'd cut the plan to build the northern Red Line and southern Purple Line extensions.

 

The first Red Line extension is already under-utilized. This second Red Line extension would pretty much add a single park-and-ride.

 

The Purple Line extension would serve a major destination (Hobby), but so would the Green Line extension. Two lines serving Hobby would be a bit redundant with limited funds, and the Purple Line extension would hardly add any new passengers (less than 3,000 a day).

 

I'd rather METRO take that money, and put it towards making the University Line (west of Green Line only) or "Inner Katy" lines light rail.

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You know what should have a light rail. If they're going to put the rail on Shepherd, why not have it go down Shepherd to Kirby, through River Oaks (that might be a problem), down Kirby all the way to meet the Red Line near the football stadium. It would actually be great. It would hit Heights, Washington corridor, River Oaks, Upper Kirby (Westheimer and Richmond), Rice Village and the Stadium. If there ever was a University line, it would intersect with three lines. 

Shepherd + Kirby, that's the route. 

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They need to straighten out the timing on the lights on Binz and the museum district Metro stations so it doesn't clog 6 blocks of east west traffic and Montrose Blvd.

during rush hour. They used to be timed much better.

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The University, Inner Katy, Westheimer, and Gessner brt should all be light rail. I really don't think buses can handle those type of numbers and it makes even less sense for them to be brt when they're being built in the densest parts of Houston. I know someone might bring up the cost to build them and while I can understand that, at the same time we're about to spend $7 billion dollars on a single freeway project alone. If we have enough for that, then we should have enough for rail. I also think Metro should include funding to convert the Uptown Line into Light rail ASAP.

 

The Green and Purple Line should run on the original alignment that was proposed to Hobby Airport. The current paths that they're on right now don't really have much ridership potential and there's already boost corridors running on their paths anyways. I think the red line extension should be dropped for the same reason. 

 

While I do like the plans to have express buses run 24/7 both ways, it seems more like a short-term solution to a long-term problem, especially if more people means that we can expect more cars on the hov/hot lanes. I think Metro should consider building commuter rail to the suburbs (whether it be a part of this plan or another is up to them). Metro should work with other agencies and transportation planners to try and make commuter rail a reality.

 

I doubt all of these could be done, but one can be hopeful.

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