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MetroRail University Line On Richmond


RedScare

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The reason it goes down Richmond until 610 (before the reroute at greenway) is that that route would get more ridership then putting it on westpark. Also the street that would be for cars would be rebuilt as well. If you didn't want to take Richmond take Alabama or westheimer it's not THAT big of an inconvenience.

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I think that the University Line as it is planned now is slow, ruins a road, and has way too many stops. If it's "already voted for" and with the delays, it needs to be scrapped entirely and replaced with a modified plan.

Are you saying votes don't matter? This isn't some third world dictatorship where voting is a mockery.

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How about maintaining the same route but go below grade at Montrose, Shepherd, and Kirby, similar to the Holcomb/Fannin intersection. Not a true subway, but would reduce traffic impacts and increase speed by bypassing these intersections. Any re routing along the Westpark power line easement east of Kirby would require removal of many dozens of homes and businesses, essentially destroying all of Vassar Street, Autrey, Chelsea.

The below grade dips/underpasses at intersections would surely help, but be expensive. Though I think there should be one or two underpasses on the Westpark segment (especially if it jumps over further east like I was saying at Yoakum), at Kirby and again at Edloe for an underground station connecting under 59 into the greenway tunnel system, there are just much more cross streets to deal with on Richmond. Plus Richmond will need more lanes of traffic one day (would slightly relieve thru traffic on Westheimer and San Felipe too). Do you really want to take up all that space with LRT on one of the busier streets in Houston?

The ROW/easement is clear between Kirby and Shepherd.. METRO owns all that land up until Shepherd.

Slick, I'm aware the Richmond route would have a higher ridership. Believe me, I wanted the Richmond line and was pissed about Afton Oaks, but we have to compromise.. And besides there really aren't many large destinations along the route.. The segment between uptown and the main st line should be as quick as possible to transfer people between the large hubs of the city. Not have 12 or so stops and take almost an hour to traverse. Some would say as should build the Richmond line as was planned, and have a faster commuter route between uptown and downtown along Memorial (would be awesome), but given our track record for getting rail built, I think all that is wishful thinking, at least for the immediate future, so iron tiger is trying to get a hybrid line built that can serve both needs (at least that's what I take from it, sorry for putting words in your mouth i.t.)

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Are you saying votes don't matter? This isn't some third world dictatorship where voting is a mockery.

No, he's saying the plan we voted for is clearly not working (Culberson doesn't want rail coming past Shepherd) so we need to scrap it and vote on a new plan that we can make work..

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I seem to recall Culberson being quoted as making a qualified statement that he would support rail in certain places.   Can anyone dig the exact quote up or get him to clarify?  I feel a bit puzzled because I thought that Metro had given in to what he was asking for -- i.e. rerouting it along Westpark before it would pass through Afton Oaks.  More recently, all I've heard attributed to Metro is that they have the University Line on the back burner because of a lack of funding in the foreseeable future.

 

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The reason it goes down Richmond until 610 (before the reroute at greenway) is that that route would get more ridership then putting it on westpark. Also the street that would be for cars would be rebuilt as well. If you didn't want to take Richmond take Alabama or westheimer it's not THAT big of an inconvenience.

"Getting more ridership" is a bit of a smokescreen, since either way down 59 would bring in people (the "Richmond is where the people are" argument is stupid, because if that were true, we'd be cutting swathes though residential neighborhoods). If that power right of way was about 10 meters wider between the edge of 59 and the houses on that side of the freeway (tearing down every house on Vassar and Autrey clearly isn't the best way to do things. The way things are shaping up is basically an extremely expensive bus line east of Greenway Plaza, which I think is not the way to do things.

 

A more worthwhile exercise might be thinking where to find the billions of dollars we need for transit expansion given that General Mobility will hamstring METRO's budget for at least the next ten years.

METRO needs a lot of help. While it's not falling apart at the seams like Portland's transit authority (though arguably you could say that they at least built a competent network beforehand)

 

Are you saying votes don't matter? This isn't some third world dictatorship where voting is a mockery.

No, the public voted. But a vote isn't set in stone--citizens can vote for a public official and get a recall election, cancel an old law, judges can throw out laws, etc. That's the current system, I'm afraid. Or are you in favor of a "the voters made their bed, now they lie in it" situation?

 

The below grade dips/underpasses at intersections would surely help, but be expensive. Though I think there should be one or two underpasses on the Westpark segment (especially if it jumps over further east like I was saying at Yoakum), at Kirby and again at Edloe for an underground station connecting under 59 into the greenway tunnel system, there are just much more cross streets to deal with on Richmond. Plus Richmond will need more lanes of traffic one day (would slightly relieve thru traffic on Westheimer and San Felipe too).

Again, with trying to build below grade underpasses for rail would require so much construction and displacement it would be just as expensive or even cheaper to build underground entirely.

The current plan frankly sucks. You want to cannibalize a street (yes, Richmond would get "repaired"--but that's like saying to get a kidney transplant, you have to cut off two of your limbs), put in far more stops than necessary (and stations are expensive), and get a slow train that probably moves slower than a car on 59 in rush hour (on average). Again, hardly a "world class" transit system. The underground system would satisfy both needs by giving Houstonians a modern light rail system and serve the original route as planned.

 

I seem to recall Culberson being quoted as making a qualified statement that he would support rail in certain places. Can anyone dig the exact quote up or get him to clarify? I feel a bit puzzled because I thought that Metro had given in to what he was asking for -- i.e. rerouting it along Westpark before it would pass through Afton Oaks. More recently, all I've heard attributed to Metro is that they have the University Line on the back burner because of a lack of funding in the foreseeable future.

The image of Culberson as some sort of anti-rail supervillain is an exaggeration, and blocking the University Line was, despite the ways and motives of doing it, was a decent idea, because again--the line is terrible as is, made only less terrible by moving the rail away from Afton Oaks.

What I'd like to know is it cheaper to knock down every house on Vassar and Autrey, or to dig up Richmond to add a submerged line and rebuilding Richmond that way?

Of course, it is budget problems that are limiting METRO, which was probably exacerbated by incompetence.

Yes Culberson recently said he would support the 90A commuter rail line, but didn't want LRT anywhere in his district (which includes the University line west of Shepherd, and the lower half of the uptown line..

What was the actual quote? This is another example of hearsay that promotes the "anti-rail supervillain" idea. Edited by IronTiger
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If that power right of way was about 10 meters wider between the edge of 59 and the houses on that side of the freeway (tearing down every house on Vassar and Autrey clearly isn't the best way to do things.

Again, with trying to build below grade underpasses for rail would require so much construction and displacement it would be just as expensive or even cheaper to build underground

The underground system would satisfy both needs by giving Houstonians a modern light rail system and serve the original route as planned.

What I'd like to know is it cheaper to knock down every house on Vassar and Autrey, or to dig up Richmond to add a submerged line and rebuilding Richmond that way?

What was the actual quote? This is another example of hearsay that promotes the "anti-rail supervillain" idea.

You don't think they can squeeze 2 rail lines under/between the power lines up to Yoakum? Why would METRO bother buying that ROW up to Montrose if they can't fit rail along it?

I don't see why it would be cheaper to build the whole thing underground vs a couple high traffic cross streets, when both ways are essentially the same in the "cut" phase that's part of trenching a line. They just don't fully "cover" the "cut" for underpasses.

Id rather see the Westpark/power line ROW be used for commuter (or at least fast minimal stop LRT) rail, and an under ground line go along Westheimer. Thats where all the new mixed use developments seem to be popping up and it would probably serve even more people than a Richmond line.

I still don't think we'd have to knock down houses, but even if we did that would be cheaper than an underground subway line below Richmond. LRT historically for Houston has been over 100 million a mile. You could probably buy those houses for a few hundred thousand dollars each, and it would be much cheaper to build rail along an open ROW vs down the middle of a street you have to rebuild completely..

Here's the article.. I wasn't trying to paint Culbetson as a super-villain, just putting it how it is in terms of what the quotes/article said..

http://houston.culturemap.com/news/city-life/01-28-14-light-rail-on-richmond-dead-forever-congressmen-crows-over-saving-post-oak-from-metro-destruction/

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You don't think they can squeeze 2 rail lines under/between the power lines up to Yoakum? Why would METRO bother buying that ROW up to Montrose if they can't fit rail along it?

I don't see why it would be cheaper to build the whole thing underground vs a couple high traffic cross streets, when both ways are essentially the same in the "cut" phase that's part of trenching a line. They just don't fully "cover" the "cut" for underpasses.

Id rather see the Westpark/power line ROW be used for commuter (or at least fast minimal stop LRT) rail, and an under ground line go along Westheimer. Thats where all the new mixed use developments seem to be popping up and it would probably serve even more people than a Richmond line.

I still don't think we'd have to knock down houses, but even if we did that would be cheaper than an underground subway line below Richmond. LRT historically for Houston has been over 100 million a mile. You could probably buy those houses for a few hundred thousand dollars each, and it would be much cheaper to build rail along an open ROW vs down the middle of a street you have to rebuild completely..

Here's the article.. I wasn't trying to paint Culbetson as a super-villain, just putting it how it is in terms of what the quotes/article said..

http://houston.culturemap.com/news/city-life/01-28-14-light-rail-on-richmond-dead-forever-congressmen-crows-over-saving-post-oak-from-metro-destruction/

One of the 2 rail plans considered as an alternate to Richmond required expanding the ROW east of Woodhead by tearing down all of the homes, apartments, and school on the north side of Vassar and Autrey, adding a grade crossing at Montrose, and removing the area by the Chelsea Market. There is only about 30 feet from the property lines to the freeway retaining wall, and this space also holds the high tension power poles, local power lines, and buried fiber lines. Besides relocating the fiber, I wonder if additional piers would be required to support the freeway walls (there are already some collapsed sections inside the easement fence).

 

Propery values of the homes on that side of the street are assessed at $55 to $75 per square foot (land value, not including developed property), so market values area about 500k and up these days for the older homes, close to 800k for newer ones along Autrey.

 

I would expect that property values on the south side of these streets would also dramatically fall since, essentially, it would be like living on Westpark. They are currently building $1M+ homes on this side of Vassar. That's a lot of lost tax revenue.

 

Besides all that, Richmond STILL requires to be rebuilt anyway due to its current condition. 

 

And finally, I do call Culberson a villain since he always stated that locals opposed the Richmond rail, but all of the local neighborhood and business associations inside the loop (except Afton Oaks) had publicly and vocally supported Richmond rail. The site richmondrail.org used to have the full listing of associations that supported it, but Culberson chose to ignore these and "protect" the businesses that were opposed.

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"Getting more ridership" is a bit of a smokescreen, since either way down 59 would bring in people (the "Richmond is where the people are" argument is stupid, because if that were true, we'd be cutting swathes though residential neighborhoods). If that power right of way was about 10 meters wider between the edge of 59 and the houses on that side of the freeway (tearing down every house on Vassar and Autrey clearly isn't the best way to do things. The way things are shaping up is basically an extremely expensive bus line east of Greenway Plaza, which I think is not the way to do things.

METRO needs a lot of help. While it's not falling apart at the seams like Portland's transit authority (though arguably you could say that they at least built a competent network beforehand)

No, the public voted. But a vote isn't set in stone--citizens can vote for a public official and get a recall election, cancel an old law, judges can throw out laws, etc. That's the current system, I'm afraid. Or are you in favor of a "the voters made their bed, now they lie in it" situation?

Again, with trying to build below grade underpasses for rail would require so much construction and displacement it would be just as expensive or even cheaper to build underground entirely.

The current plan frankly sucks. You want to cannibalize a street (yes, Richmond would get "repaired"--but that's like saying to get a kidney transplant, you have to cut off two of your limbs), put in far more stops than necessary (and stations are expensive), and get a slow train that probably moves slower than a car on 59 in rush hour (on average). Again, hardly a "world class" transit system. The underground system would satisfy both needs by giving Houstonians a modern light rail system and serve the original route as planned.

The image of Culberson as some sort of anti-rail supervillain is an exaggeration, and blocking the University Line was, despite the ways and motives of doing it, was a decent idea, because again--the line is terrible as is, made only less terrible by moving the rail away from Afton Oaks.

What I'd like to know is it cheaper to knock down every house on Vassar and Autrey, or to dig up Richmond to add a submerged line and rebuilding Richmond that way?

Of course, it is budget problems that are limiting METRO, which was probably exacerbated by incompetence.

What was the actual quote? This is another example of hearsay that promotes the "anti-rail supervillain" idea.

The university line is the critical line because it links the Main Street line to the uptown line and the hillcroft transit center and also has a stop in gulfton the most densely populated portion of the entire city.

It also has connections to two more critical job centers, greenway plaza and the galleria and tsu and UH, this the name university line.

Going down Richmond (part of it at least) was an alternative to highland village but the stores there opposed it and that's where afton oaks came in the picture.

Culberson has gone out of his way to stall the line as long as possible and wrote a sentence in a bill saying federal funding could never be given for rail on Richmond west of shepherd. Tell me that's not childish.

Also originally there was a separate parallel line linking the top station of the uptown line to the red line.

If you seriously think westpark would have more ridership than Richmond, please reevaluate whatever your thought process is.

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You don't think they can squeeze 2 rail lines under/between the power lines up to Yoakum? Why would METRO bother buying that ROW up to Montrose if they can't fit rail along it?

No, I really don't. While two rails could fit, stations are a bit wider, and that's the problem.

I don't see why it would be cheaper to build the whole thing underground vs a couple high traffic cross streets, when both ways are essentially the same in the "cut" phase that's part of trenching a line. They just don't fully "cover" the "cut" for underpasses.

The way I see it, if they built a full underground, they could shift lanes over when necessary without destroying anything on either side, and after the tunnels were built, just put the roads back over it and it's business as normal except a new road on top. With that, the lanes would still be lost, and it would make things more complicated if they want to add left turn lanes. The length that would need to be depressed would still block other intersections and make station placement more problematic. Net gain: 0.

Id rather see the Westpark/power line ROW be used for commuter (or at least fast minimal stop LRT) rail, and an under ground line go along Westheimer. Thats where all the new mixed use developments seem to be popping up and it would probably serve even more people than a Richmond line.

Westheimer would be an even worse idea than Richmond since not only it's still a major road, but the right of way is very low, meaning that even if you were try to dig up Westheimer for a line, it would basically completely close down the road. The businesses of Westheimer would not stand for that at all, and I'm sure that Montrosians (is that the right word? "Montrosians"?) would rally against it. With Richmond, you at least get that median to work with.

I still don't think we'd have to knock down houses, but even if we did that would be cheaper than an underground subway line below Richmond. LRT historically for Houston has been over 100 million a mile. You could probably buy those houses for a few hundred thousand dollars each, and it would be much cheaper to build rail along an open ROW vs down the middle of a street you have to rebuild completely..

Given the land value of those houses, underground for a few miles should be at least semi "worth it". I'm not sure where the cost of LRT comes from: the stations undoubtedly contribute to a bunch of the cost (a reason why those extra stops should be eliminated), and the cars come imported for overseas (a reason why LRT is cheaper in Europe which no one has mentioned). The "pre-existing ROW" also involves basically rebuilding the entire road from scratch and dismantling lines underneath and changing stoplights as well. A true pre-existing ROW, like the Westpark line, would not deal with such things.

Here's the article.. I wasn't trying to paint Culbetson as a super-villain, just putting it how it is in terms of what the quotes/article said.

There are HAIFers that do agree with that image (more than one), but here are the quotes in question.

• "I'm very proud to have been able to protect Richmond and Post Oak from being destroyed as Fannin and Main Street were destroyed,"

That's probably hyperbole there, but Main Street is a joke now with narrow lanes, even a disconnected segment there near the old Foley's, and points north with a six lane road being turned into a two way road with limited places to turn. Meanwhile, the light rail isn't all that zippy either, which still has to stop at stoplights. There's a YouTube video of the new Red Line extension, and even with it sped up several times, it still feels pretty slow sometimes.

• "It's a permanent federal statutory law. So it's a felony if any governmental entities attempt to spend any federal money to push rail on those routes,"

This is another quote in question. Notice that's federal funding--there are lots of issues in America that people will support just not with federal funding. If the state was willing to cough up some dough possibly by raising a bit of taxes (and really, they should), then that would be a different issue and rail gets the green light. Besides, the way he could have phrased it wouldn't rule out under Richmond, now, would it? It wouldn't even cover "parallel to" Richmond.

• "West Park would be perfect. They have the right of way."

This is a point he made and it's true--it wouldn't ruin streets and it does provide a workable plan. It also disproves the "anti-rail" belief. Notice that he never said anything (at least to my knowledge) as "I'll never let rail run in my district" or to that effect. It may be a warped version of "I'll never let rail run through Afton Oaks", but that's not the same thing.

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And one more:
 

One of the 2 rail plans considered as an alternate to Richmond required expanding the ROW east of Woodhead by tearing down all of the homes, apartments, and school on the north side of Vassar and Autrey, adding a grade crossing at Montrose, and removing the area by the Chelsea Market. There is only about 30 feet from the property lines to the freeway retaining wall, and this space also holds the high tension power poles, local power lines, and buried fiber lines. Besides relocating the fiber, I wonder if additional piers would be required to support the freeway walls (there are already some collapsed sections inside the easement fence).

Propery values of the homes on that side of the street are assessed at $55 to $75 per square foot (land value, not including developed property), so market values area about 500k and up these days for the older homes, close to 800k for newer ones along Autrey.

I would expect that property values on the south side of these streets would also dramatically fall since, essentially, it would be like living on Westpark. They are currently building $1M+ homes on this side of Vassar. That's a lot of lost tax revenue.

Besides all that, Richmond STILL requires to be rebuilt anyway due to its current condition.

And finally, I do call Culberson a villain since he always stated that locals opposed the Richmond rail, but all of the local neighborhood and business associations inside the loop (except Afton Oaks) had publicly and vocally supported Richmond rail. The site richmondrail.org used to have the full listing of associations that supported it, but Culberson chose to ignore these and "protect" the businesses that were opposed.


I am not saying that what Culberson did was ethical (he is a politician, after all), and I really don't know if the neighborhoods and businesses really did support it or perhaps that was just speaking loudly ("business associations" is especially questionable, since what an association decides is not necessarily what the bodies want--unions are a great example of that).
 

The university line is the critical line because it links the Main Street line to the uptown line and the hillcroft transit center and also has a stop in gulfton the most densely populated portion of the entire city.

For your demands of "The rail line MUST go in the busiest corridors because that's where the PEOPLE ARE!!", the Gulfton line is still half a mile away from most of the apartment complexes. There's nothing wrong with that, but arguing that this is acceptable while putting the line on Westpark ROW and not Richmond is a travesty that cuts thousands out of ridership is not.
 

It also has connections to two more critical job centers, greenway plaza and the galleria and tsu and UH, this the name university line.

More hyperbole about how it's "critical" it must be done that way. Would people really commute from TSU to Greenway Plaza? Probably not. But I'm not arguing if the line should be built or not, I just think that running it on Richmond is a bad idea.
 

Going down Richmond (part of it at least) was an alternative to highland village but the stores there opposed it and that's where afton oaks came in the picture.

A bad idea versus a worse idea doesn't make the less bad one a good idea.
 

Culberson has gone out of his way to stall the line as long as possible and wrote a sentence in a bill saying federal funding could never be given for rail on Richmond west of shepherd. Tell me that's not childish.

Again, not saying that Culberson isn't ethical, but it's typical politician behavior.
 

Also originally there was a separate parallel line linking the top station of the uptown line to the red line.

I would love to see a commuter rail line go down from Northwest Transit Center downtown, to be honest.
 

If you seriously think westpark would have more ridership than Richmond, please reevaluate whatever your thought process is.


I didn't say that Westpark would have more ridership that Richmond, moving it a few hundred meters wouldn't put a huge dent in ridership, and I thought that the rail would be best if it ran UNDER Richmond.

The question really comes down to this: do you want a world class transit system or do you want the world's most expensive bus?

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No, I really don't. While two rails could fit, stations are a bit wider, and that's the problem.

The way I see it, if they built a full underground, they could shift lanes over when necessary without destroying anything on either side, and after the tunnels were built, just put the roads back over it and it's business as normal except a new road on top. With that, the lanes would still be lost, and it would make things more complicated if they want to add left turn lanes. The length that would need to be depressed would still block other intersections and make station placement more problematic. Net gain: 0.

Westheimer would be an even worse idea than Richmond since not only it's still a major road, but the right of way is very low, meaning that even if you were try to dig up Westheimer for a line, it would basically completely close down the road. The businesses of Westheimer would not stand for that at all, and I'm sure that Montrosians (is that the right word? "Montrosians"?) would rally against it. With Richmond, you at least get that median to work with.

Given the land value of those houses, underground for a few miles should be at least semi "worth it". I'm not sure where the cost of LRT comes from: the stations undoubtedly contribute to a bunch of the cost (a reason why those extra stops should be eliminated), and the cars come imported for overseas (a reason why LRT is cheaper in Europe which no one has mentioned). The "pre-existing ROW" also involves basically rebuilding the entire road from scratch and dismantling lines underneath and changing stoplights as well. A true pre-existing ROW, like the Westpark line, would not deal with such things.

There are HAIFers that do agree with that image (more than one), but here are the quotes in question.

• "I'm very proud to have been able to protect Richmond and Post Oak from being destroyed as Fannin and Main Street were destroyed,"

That's probably hyperbole there, but Main Street is a joke now with narrow lanes, even a disconnected segment there near the old Foley's, and points north with a six lane road being turned into a two way road with limited places to turn. Meanwhile, the light rail isn't all that zippy either, which still has to stop at stoplights. There's a YouTube video of the new Red Line extension, and even with it sped up several times, it still feels pretty slow sometimes.

• "It's a permanent federal statutory law. So it's a felony if any governmental entities attempt to spend any federal money to push rail on those routes,"

This is another quote in question. Notice that's federal funding--there are lots of issues in America that people will support just not with federal funding. If the state was willing to cough up some dough possibly by raising a bit of taxes (and really, they should), then that would be a different issue and rail gets the green light. Besides, the way he could have phrased it wouldn't rule out under Richmond, now, would it? It wouldn't even cover "parallel to" Richmond.

• "West Park would be perfect. They have the right of way."

This is a point he made and it's true--it wouldn't ruin streets and it does provide a workable plan. It also disproves the "anti-rail" belief. Notice that he never said anything (at least to my knowledge) as "I'll never let rail run in my district" or to that effect. It may be a warped version of "I'll never let rail run through Afton Oaks", but that's not the same thing.

the only station i think they should have on the Westpark/power line ROW between Post Oak and Wheeler Station (unless they go down Richmond for a short stretch before cutting over to the ROW west of Montrose, then also have one additional stop on Richmond) is at Edloe/Greenway Plaza (where there is more room to work with btw), and ive wanted that station to be underground all along, connecting into greenways tunnels, so room for the station wouldnt be a problem there. the other stations would be at Post Oak and Hillcroft, where there is plenty of room as well. i dont see the need to take any of those houses out because there is no need to put a station anywhere behind them/along that section. it doesnt make sense, and we both want the route to be minimal stops for faster speeds, so why have unnecessary stops?

yeah Westheimer would be a nightmare.. they could probably keep half the road open and build one set of tracks at a time, but it would be a mess and screw up a lot of business access, ect. maybe a tunnel boring machine would be more appropriate for that line. 

again, i dont see the need to cut and cover or tear down houses when you can just run the rail lines between/under the power lines, and not have any stops along that narrow section. and i meant "true pre existing ROW" like Westpark.. not ROW that previously existed as a median or lanes of traffic that has to be rebuilt. i guess you misunderstood me.

yeah the main street line is pretty slow and i wish they cut and covered the sections through downtown. i do like the little pedestrian plaza at main street square though. heh

and i believe he is basically against any rail in his district. note the Westpark route is outside of his district. cut and cover along Richmond (even in the median) would be just as much of a pain during the construction process as building surface LRT and "negatively affect businesses" like hes arguing.

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Also I'm not seeing the comparison to a bus and light rail at all here.

It's quite easy--supposing that the roads weren't full of potholes and that buses were more modern--what difference would a bus going down Richmond and stopping every intersection, versus tearing up the street for a light rail that takes up a lane of traffic, eliminates cross streets and a lane of traffic, requires its own specialized stations, takes months to build, and barely any faster than the bus since it stops virtually every block for stations/stoplights?

 

the only station i think they should have on the Westpark/power line ROW between Post Oak and Wheeler Station (unless they go down Richmond for a short stretch before cutting over to the ROW west of Montrose, then also have one additional stop on Richmond) is at Edloe/Greenway Plaza (where there is more room to work with btw), and ive wanted that station to be underground all along, connecting into greenways tunnels, so room for the station wouldnt be a problem there. the other stations would be at Post Oak and Hillcroft, where there is plenty of room as well. i dont see the need to take any of those houses out because there is no need to put a station anywhere behind them/along that section. it doesnt make sense, and we both want the route to be minimal stops for faster speeds, so why have unnecessary stops?

yeah Westheimer would be a nightmare.. they could probably keep half the road open and build one set of tracks at a time, but it would be a mess and screw up a lot of business access, ect. maybe a tunnel boring machine would be more appropriate for that line.

again, i dont see the need to cut and cover or tear down houses when you can just run the rail lines between/under the power lines, and not have any stops along that narrow section. and i meant "true pre existing ROW" like Westpark.. not ROW that previously existed as a median or lanes of traffic that has to be rebuilt. i guess you misunderstood me.

yeah the main street line is pretty slow and i wish they cut and covered the sections through downtown. i do like the little pedestrian plaza at main street square though. heh

and i believe he is basically against any rail in his district. note the Westpark route is outside of his district. cut and cover along Richmond (even in the median) would be just as much of a pain during the construction process as building surface LRT and "negatively affect businesses" like hes arguing.

I do think that there needs to be at least one stop before Greenway Plaza, such as at St. Thomas/Montrose. That's why the Westpark line in the narrow section (remember, 59 peels away from the tracks, making such a thing easier) isn't ideal (they could at least add a bike lane to that section).

If the line went under Richmond, it would still affect businesses, but only temporarily. If Richmond was rebuilt with new concrete (no light rail), it would also take a long time. It's worth noting though that the Dallas light rail's tunnels were while almost certainly cut and cover, built underneath a railroad ROW.

If we took a third option and tore out Chelsea Street Marketplace (or whatever those buildings are Chelsea and Montrose) for a station that would link to Montrose and the St. Thomas Marketplace just a few blocks north, dug in that ROW and finally ascended to earth around Hazard Street--it would probably be a mile of underground light rail. Of course, that would also cut out Greenway Plaza, but a walkway over 59 could alleviate that.

It would probably make more sense for the Main Street Line, at least downtown, to be underground, but the tunnel system is a barrier to that. The root problem of the issue is that there's practically no ROW to work with. If the abandoned ROW that gets close to 59 had more easement, then we would not have an issue.

It really would benefit everyone if the line ran under Richmond:

FOR BUSINESSES

The road will still be reduced to one lane with minimal turns, but it's only temporary, not permanent. Richmond gets a rebuild after the process is done. Four lanes, turn lane, median, concrete, something you won't get with that toy train.

FOR COMMUTERS

The light rail you get will be modern, fast, and efficient, without all those noxious stops. Getting from Hillcroft to Wheeler will be an absolute breeze as the rail goes across, over, and under.

FOR THOSE ANTI-CULBERSON FOLKS

The light rail you get will circumvent Culberson: while not ON Richmond, you go UNDER Richmond. And you can maneuver for federal funding because of that!

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It's quite easy--supposing that the roads weren't full of potholes and that buses were more modern--what difference would a bus going down Richmond and stopping every intersection, versus tearing up the street for a light rail that takes up a lane of traffic, eliminates cross streets and a lane of traffic, requires its own specialized stations, takes months to build, and barely any faster than the bus since it stops virtually every block for stations/stoplights?

 

I do think that there needs to be at least one stop before Greenway Plaza, such as at St. Thomas/Montrose. That's why the Westpark line in the narrow section (remember, 59 peels away from the tracks, making such a thing easier) isn't ideal (they could at least add a bike lane to that section).

If the line went under Richmond, it would still affect businesses, but only temporarily. If Richmond was rebuilt with new concrete (no light rail), it would also take a long time. It's worth noting though that the Dallas light rail's tunnels were while almost certainly cut and cover, built underneath a railroad ROW.

If we took a third option and tore out Chelsea Street Marketplace (or whatever those buildings are Chelsea and Montrose) for a station that would link to Montrose and the St. Thomas Marketplace just a few blocks north, dug in that ROW and finally ascended to earth around Hazard Street--it would probably be a mile of underground light rail. Of course, that would also cut out Greenway Plaza, but a walkway over 59 could alleviate that.

It would probably make more sense for the Main Street Line, at least downtown, to be underground, but the tunnel system is a barrier to that. The root problem of the issue is that there's practically no ROW to work with. If the abandoned ROW that gets close to 59 had more easement, then we would not have an issue.

It really would benefit everyone if the line ran under Richmond:

FOR BUSINESSES

The road will still be reduced to one lane with minimal turns, but it's only temporary, not permanent. Richmond gets a rebuild after the process is done. Four lanes, turn lane, median, concrete, something you won't get with that toy train.

FOR COMMUTERS

The light rail you get will be modern, fast, and efficient, without all those noxious stops. Getting from Hillcroft to Wheeler will be an absolute breeze as the rail goes across, over, and under.

FOR THOSE ANTI-CULBERSON FOLKS

The light rail you get will circumvent Culberson: while not ON Richmond, you go UNDER Richmond. And you can maneuver for federal funding because of that!

 

There have been studies saying that the demand on the corridor that is now the University Line would require buses every two minutes. Even the best bus system, bus rapid transit, would still require the street to be torn up with bus only lanes going down the middle.

 

What you're suggesting is to throw out years of engineering and studies that were already approved by the federal government, because you don't like rail going down Richmond because it should be favored for cars. I see that you have a vision but it's misguided because while I and probably most favor rail underground or elevated EVERYWHERE I think that the current plan is light rail because it's cheaper (allegedly) and developers favor it because they can build transit oriented development (which could probably be done with underground too).

Edited by Slick Vik
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There have been studies saying that the demand on the corridor that is now the University Line would require buses every two minutes.

Which studies performed by who?

 

Even the best bus system, bus rapid transit, would still require the street to be torn up with bus only lanes going down the middle.

METRO needs a lot of work, and also, waiting more than 2 minutes for a bus isn't going to kill you, especially if it's sheltered.

 

What you're suggesting is to throw out years of engineering and studies that were already approved by the federal government, because you don't like rail going down Richmond because it should be favored for cars. I see that you have a vision but it's misguided

It's interesting that you can switch positions at the drop of a hat when it favors you, especially in your plans to tear down the Pierce Elevated. It's not just about the cars, I want a good light rail, which you seem to be missing. A light rail that has too many stops and stops at nearly every intersection isn't exactly optimal and makes it more like a bus.

 

because while I and probably most favor rail underground or elevated EVERYWHERE I think that the current plan is light rail because it's cheaper (allegedly) and developers favor it because they can build transit oriented development (which could probably be done with underground too).

I honestly think "transit oriented development" is just a developer buzzword that means "adjacent to mass transit" which could even mean bus, technically. Edited by IronTiger
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I do think that there needs to be at least one stop before Greenway Plaza, such as at St. Thomas/Montrose. That's why the Westpark line in the narrow section (remember, 59 peels away from the tracks, making such a thing easier) isn't ideal (they could at least add a bike lane to that section).

If the line went under Richmond, it would still affect businesses, but only temporarily. If Richmond was rebuilt with new concrete (no light rail), it would also take a long time. It's worth noting though that the Dallas light rail's tunnels were while almost certainly cut and cover, built underneath a railroad ROW.

If we took a third option and tore out Chelsea Street Marketplace (or whatever those buildings are Chelsea and Montrose) for a station that would link to Montrose and the St. Thomas Marketplace just a few blocks north, dug in that ROW and finally ascended to earth around Hazard Street--it would probably be a mile of underground light rail. Of course, that would also cut out Greenway Plaza, but a walkway over 59 could alleviate that.

It would probably make more sense for the Main Street Line, at least downtown, to be underground, but the tunnel system is a barrier to that. The root problem of the issue is that there's practically no ROW to work with. If the abandoned ROW that gets close to 59 had more easement, then we would not have an issue.

It really would benefit everyone if the line ran under Richmond:

FOR BUSINESSES

The road will still be reduced to one lane with minimal turns, but it's only temporary, not permanent. Richmond gets a rebuild after the process is done. Four lanes, turn lane, median, concrete, something you won't get with that toy train.

FOR COMMUTERS

The light rail you get will be modern, fast, and efficient, without all those noxious stops. Getting from Hillcroft to Wheeler will be an absolute breeze as the rail goes across, over, and under.

FOR THOSE ANTI-CULBERSON FOLKS

The light rail you get will circumvent Culberson: while not ON Richmond, you go UNDER Richmond. And you can maneuver for federal funding because of that!

yeah i agree about St Thomas/Montrose/The Menil area having a stop (thats the "additional stop" i mentioned), right before the train jumps over 59 to the power line ROW. but since that would still be on Richmond (we all agree there is no room for a train east of Montrose along the power line ROW.. plus METRO doesnt own that land, so the train would have to at least partially traverse Richmond) you dont have to worry about fitting a station in the ROW. there is plenty of room on Richmond for a station.

yeah, either way the rebuild is going to be a mess (i think its more an excuse for Culberson to use as to why they supposably dont want LRT). and Dallas didnt trench under existing/operating railroad ROW. it was under an old abandoned ROW.

still not sure why we would need a mile of (or any, besides the trenched station at Greenway) underground along the Westpark ROW. a walkway over 59 works too i suppose (vs the tunnel i mentioned going under 59 into the greenway tunnel system), but it would be nice if it were a fancy walkway like the arch bridges further east, and not just some boring long rectangle.

ahh the existing tunnels. youre right, but couldnt we bury the LRT one level below the tunnels?

i agree, underground is the most optimal, but its very expensive (a decision i was forced to face when sketching out my fantasy ideal transit plan for Houston.. i had way too many subways in the plan). utilizing the existing ROW along Westpark would be much cheaper, and could be just as fast.

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I think you're right. One stop at Montrose and Chelsea, which would be a few blocks away from St. Thomas and Montrose proper, West University Place (elevated over Kirby), Greenway Plaza (at Edloe), and then to the west. That hits most of the major destinations on the north side, and utilizing the line, we could extend it all the way out to Greater Katy. See if that affects the Katy Freeway at all.

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Which studies performed by who?

 

METRO needs a lot of work, and also, waiting more than 2 minutes for a bus isn't going to kill you, especially if it's sheltered.

 

It's interesting that you can switch positions at the drop of a hat when it favors you, especially in your plans to tear down the Pierce Elevated. It's not just about the cars, I want a good light rail, which you seem to be missing. A light rail that has too many stops and stops at nearly every intersection isn't exactly optimal and makes it more like a bus.

 

I honestly think "transit oriented development" is just a developer buzzword that means "adjacent to mass transit" which could even mean bus, technically.

 

1. JamesL referenced some studies in an earlier post.

 

2. This has nothing to do with the Pierce Elevated. I understand you want an underground light rail, I think anyone would, but the reality is it's going to be at grade. I don't think it has too many stops and it's not like a bus because it's not sharing lanes with cars.

 

3. Lol. Buses don't create transit oriented development. Hate it or not, but there is a "cool" factor about rail, thus rail bias.

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I do think METRO should be a little bit open minded when it comes to transit. A few years ago it was "light rail, light rail, light rail" and now it's "bus, bus, bus."

I do think a subway should be considered. Even a heavy rail subway, which would require a lot of coming together politically, but would have great short and long term impacts and prepare us well for future growth.

I do not think surface grade light rail and bus only is a good long term solution for a city that's growing as fast as Houston.

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I do think METRO should be a little bit open minded when it comes to transit. A few years ago it was "light rail, light rail, light rail" and now it's "bus, bus, bus."

I do think a subway should be considered. Even a heavy rail subway, which would require a lot of coming together politically, but would have great short and long term impacts and prepare us well for future growth.

I do not think surface grade light rail and bus only is a good long term solution for a city that's growing as fast as Houston.

 

The problem with heavy rail is that it runs huge operational losses if it doesn't get appropriate levels of ridership.  BART and MTA manage to cover between 70%-75% of their operating costs from fares, but most other systems in the US run a very large annual loss with several, such as Los Angeles, Miami, Cleveland, and Baltimore covering 30% or less of their operating costs.

 

That's not including the construction and interest costs which are obviously a lot higher.

 

The only cities that have had any significant investment in heavy rail in the last 10 years are markets where there was already a large heavy rail network.  Puerto Rico is the only exception and their project has been a fiscal disaster.

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I think you're right. One stop at Montrose and Chelsea, which would be a few blocks away from St. Thomas and Montrose proper, West University Place (elevated over Kirby), Greenway Plaza (at Edloe), and then to the west. That hits most of the major destinations on the north side, and utilizing the line, we could extend it all the way out to Greater Katy. See if that affects the Katy Freeway at all.

yeah i would be cool with an elevated Burnett Station style platform over Kirby.. 2 stops in between the uptown line and the main street line, vs the planned EIGHT stations in between the "Bellaire" Station at Post Oak south, and Wheeler station. dont you guys think eight stops (10 total, counting the starting and ending destinations) is way too excessive for people trying to transfer between uptown/west side and downtown/the medical center/museum district, ect? but yeah it would be cool to have the LRT function more as commuter rail along this line (the minimal stations go hand in hand with the way commuter rail operates) and continue along Westpark out to highway 6 or Grand Parkway.. those METRO trains can get up to around 65 mph. decent enough for quick travel time, especially for shorter distances like inside the loop. but for longer distances true commuter rail trains are known to average around 80-90 and can get up to around 125mph (DCs(?) can ive heard). maybe they could engineer a new LRT vehicle that travels faster than ~65 that we could use for this line so we dont have to go all out commuter rail for the quickest travel times? (not that i wouldnt love to have commuter rail..). as for affecting the Katy Freeway, im not sure if that was a joke (hard to tell as so many people make jabs about mass transit not improving traffic) or you were serious. it would definitely be interesting but what would be much more comparable IMO is how it would affect the traffic on Westpark. Katy Freeway is a few miles north and i think the people that already use i10 will continue to do so instead of traveling south to Westpark to catch a train. now if they put rail down the Katy Tollway like they left a possibility for by reinforcing the new bridges, that would be a great comparison to effecting traffic. i just wish the Katy/i10 line could of been reinforced for commuter rail (i hear it was only built for LRT and commuter rail would be too heavy?) as that route surely could support the need for that kind of rail capacity.

I do think METRO should be a little bit open minded when it comes to transit. A few years ago it was "light rail, light rail, light rail" and now it's "bus, bus, bus."

I do think a subway should be considered. Even a heavy rail subway, which would require a lot of coming together politically, but would have great short and long term impacts and prepare us well for future growth.

I do not think surface grade light rail and bus only is a good long term solution for a city that's growing as fast as Houston.

agreed.. 

subways would be awesome, and i think Houston will need them in the next 50 years. like you said its going to require a lot to come together politically to make that happen so we should start working on that asap.

again, agreed. we either need elevated rail (which is kind of ugly and imposing overhead in dense areas.. even Chicago apparently isnt building elevated rail anymore), or submerged rail.. surface rail and busses wont work well in 50 years when Houstons traffic is completely gridlocked.

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1. JamesL referenced some studies in an earlier post.

Still nothing.

2. This has nothing to do with the Pierce Elevated. I understand you want an underground light rail, I think anyone would, but the reality is it's going to be at grade. I don't think it has too many stops and it's not like a bus because it's not sharing lanes with cars.

It doesn't have anything to do with the Pierce, you are correct, but it's interesting to give you give arguments and ideas that you were opposed to in the past.

3. Lol. Buses don't create transit oriented development. Hate it or not, but there is a "cool" factor about rail, thus rail bias.

Didn't say that buses create TODs, but that it's a buzzword. Had the Fairmont Museum District building been built with Richmond having rail, you would be crowing about how light rail had "revitalized" the area and how it's a "transit oriented development" and all, ignoring the fact that Montrose is gentrifying WITHOUT light rail.

It's also interesting how you stated that "they would need to have buses running every 2 minutes" to meet demand or something along those lines. Are the buses crammed full as it is, or would light rail magically induce demand as you claim highways are?

If we want to be looking toward the future, ripping lanes out of major roads and limiting access for a light rail that behaves like a bus is not the right way to do things.

Furthermore, if rail is rerouted to the south directly paralleling 59 in the old right of way completely, or being buried underneath Richmond for just maybe a few miles, it gives the rail more potential, and you could extend it (in theory) to the west. Note that even the parking lots/transit centers exist for such a change.

In the meantime, even if Richmond got a rebuild and the buses replaced with some modern vehicles, it would probably functionally fill the idea of the University Line as a fancy bus route, but that will have to wait until Metro gets an injection of competence.

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I'm not an engineer, but I find this debate bordering on the ridiculous... Would it really be that much more difficult/ expensive to build an elevated line down Richmond?? Houston just built two elevated sections of the North Line (because that was their only option when crossing existing rail lines) and they work great.  Like Dallas, we have now successfully designed and built an elevated rail station.  These costs are not some vague abstraction anymore.  

 

Richmond needs to have an elevated line.  The costs couldn't be much more than expenses already needed to build the road.  Just elevate the whole damn thing, including stations.  

 

 

 

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Still nothing.

It doesn't have anything to do with the Pierce, you are correct, but it's interesting to give you give arguments and ideas that you were opposed to in the past.

Didn't say that buses create TODs, but that it's a buzzword. Had the Fairmont Museum District building been built with Richmond having rail, you would be crowing about how light rail had "revitalized" the area and how it's a "transit oriented development" and all, ignoring the fact that Montrose is gentrifying WITHOUT light rail.

It's also interesting how you stated that "they would need to have buses running every 2 minutes" to meet demand or something along those lines. Are the buses crammed full as it is, or would light rail magically induce demand as you claim highways are?

If we want to be looking toward the future, ripping lanes out of major roads and limiting access for a light rail that behaves like a bus is not the right way to do things.

Furthermore, if rail is rerouted to the south directly paralleling 59 in the old right of way completely, or being buried underneath Richmond for just maybe a few miles, it gives the rail more potential, and you could extend it (in theory) to the west. Note that even the parking lots/transit centers exist for such a change.

In the meantime, even if Richmond got a rebuild and the buses replaced with some modern vehicles, it would probably functionally fill the idea of the University Line as a fancy bus route, but that will have to wait until Metro gets an injection of competence.

 

Fairmont museum district has nothing to do with rail. What are you talking about? Yes sometimes rail does revitalize but sometimes other factors do as well.

 

The buses are crammed full but this is the point when rail is needed to handle the demand. The buses have reached capacity.

 

Light rail doesn't behave like a bus. Have you ridden light rail?

 

I agree with burying under richmond, but putting it on westpark is pointless.

 

If you replace the buses with modern vehicles they are STILL SUBJECT TO TRAFFIC. That saves nobody any time and is still inefficient.

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I was talking about buses, not bus rapid transit. There is a difference.

The problem with heavy rail is that it runs huge operational losses if it doesn't get appropriate levels of ridership.  BART and MTA manage to cover between 70%-75% of their operating costs from fares, but most other systems in the US run a very large annual loss with several, such as Los Angeles, Miami, Cleveland, and Baltimore covering 30% or less of their operating costs.

 

That's not including the construction and interest costs which are obviously a lot higher.

 

The only cities that have had any significant investment in heavy rail in the last 10 years are markets where there was already a large heavy rail network.  Puerto Rico is the only exception and their project has been a fiscal disaster.

 

So, let me get this straight.

 

Highways run huge operational losses = All good.

 

Rail runs huge operational losses = Terrible!

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So, let me get this straight.

 

Highways run huge operational losses = All good.

 

Rail runs huge operational losses = Terrible!

 

I've always maintained that the full operational cost of highways should be covered by usage fees (the gas tax) at either the federal and/or state level.  Those taxes should be raised to a level sufficient to cover those costs.  I'm very much in favor of new highway construction being financed by toll roads which covers both the construction and operational costs of those roads.  As you may have noticed, Texas has strongly adopted the toll road model.

 

I also have no issue with subsidizing a portion of the operationing costs of transit, because it serves as a public service for those who are less fortunate.  However, there's a big difference between subsidizing 25% of cost and 75% of cost.

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We know the University Line is dead because of the devil! :ph34r: The city of Houston, METRO, Harris County, and TXDOT must come together for a 20 year transportation plan that includes more freeways, toll roads, commuter rail, light rail and try to expand METRO'S area.  If we do not do anything we will choke on traffic.  We all know that will hurt our economy.  Inside the loop something must be done!  The traffic starts at 3pm till 7pm and you cannot get anywhere.  And a lot of these highrises and midrises are not open yet.  It's going to be like Manhattan here of course with no rail to catch.  So keep on bickering with no solution.    

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I've always maintained that the full operational cost of highways should be covered by usage fees (the gas tax) at either the federal and/or state level. Those taxes should be raised to a level sufficient to cover those costs. I'm very much in favor of new highway construction being financed by toll roads which covers both the construction and operational costs of those roads. As you may have noticed, Texas has strongly adopted the toll road model.

I also have no issue with subsidizing a portion of the operationing costs of transit, because it serves as a public service for those who are less fortunate. However, there's a big difference between subsidizing 25% of cost and 75% of cost.

I agree with raising the gas tax, but unfortunately I don't think any politician has the guts to do it.

I also think public transit should enhance quality of life for everyone regardless if he is fortunate or less fortunate. In the sense that it gives efficient transit from and where people need to go. This means whether or not you can afford to buy a car or not. It should b a viable alternative to the general population.

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The problem with heavy rail is that it runs huge operational losses if it doesn't get appropriate levels of ridership.  BART and MTA manage to cover between 70%-75% of their operating costs from fares, but most other systems in the US run a very large annual loss with several, such as Los Angeles, Miami, Cleveland, and Baltimore covering 30% or less of their operating costs.

 

That's not including the construction and interest costs which are obviously a lot higher.

 

The only cities that have had any significant investment in heavy rail in the last 10 years are markets where there was already a large heavy rail network.  Puerto Rico is the only exception and their project has been a fiscal disaster.

Well, then we have to make sure we do it right. After having ridden many, many forms of transit around the country, I can say with confidence that heavy rail is by far the best transit mode we've got in 2014, and I think it's at least worth a serious look. There's no reason cities like Washington, DC can build a heavy rail system from scratch and we can't (well, I guess DC has a hell of a lot larger pool of money to draw from lol).

As far as some of the cities you mentioned, there are some interesting statistics I found from the National Transit Database. For example, in Los Angeles, the operating cost for heavy rail is only $2.20/rider while for light rail it is a whopping $3.7/rider. The cost per bus rider is $2.40. And take a look at Atlanta's statistics, an operating cost of only $2.40/rider for their heavy rail system and a cost of $3.40/rider for their bus system.

Miami is a lot higher, with a $4.10/rider operating cost for heavy rail and a $3.90/rider cost for bus riders.

With that being said, I think it's important to look at cost per rider for specific modes of transportation as well. Heavy rail usually performs very well in this area. I think that if done right a few heavy rail lines in Houston can be very successful.

And for those who insist upon a rubber-tired solution, I just got back from Paris and they have a really cool little tram/subway thingy, which runs on rubber tires and is very cool.

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Another explanation: part of what got my interested in light rail is DART, and I got really turned off from light rail (and other rail based mass transit) amidst nonsense anti-freeway rhetoric and the way that light rail is built in Houston (street running).

So I finally rode DART again, and while I can't say it's the perfect solution, I think that it's a forward-thinking idea and definitely makes going downtown from the suburbs a lot easier. Is it for everyone? Will it make freeway traffic disappear? Probably not. It was even reasonably full, and a Friday afternoon (well before rush hour), the train was packed with kids and parents heading back from the zoo, which was on the light rail line.

 

as for affecting the Katy Freeway, im not sure if that was a joke (hard to tell as so many people make jabs about mass transit not improving traffic) or you were serious.

It was serious. I hold no delusions about the Katy Freeway being magically un-congested (it could make an impact, but not really enough to be "uncongested"), but the Westpark line is a great corridor for light rail out to that area. Houston is handicapped in that there are very few abandoned rail right of ways that have not been eaten up for highway expansion or used for a bike path. If they had built a tunnel for the Katy Freeway where light rail would go, that would probably be pretty cool.

The unfortunate thing is that rail based transit still cost far more in operating losses, but that's a price you pay for progress. The gas tax does need to be raised too. I don't agree that putting light rail on Westpark ROW is "pointless", though I can see some issues with unhappy neighbors.

With ANY form of mass transit, even BRT, they're still subjected to lights and other things (even if the mass transit gets green and lights will go red for it, it will destroy traffic patterns and reverting back to the simple "timed lights" that cities have made steps to eliminate. I had to once wait for a light with three (not two) cycles, which meant it would turn red at night when no one was there. It sucked.

And yes, Slick, I have ridden the Houston light rail. It is a smooth ride, but part of that versus buses (which I have not ridden) is the smoothness of the rail. If the roads were better maintained, perhaps through slightly higher taxes, and if there were modern buses (Texas A&M replaced their "school bus" style buses with modern buses, and it's great), then part of the thing about light rail is eliminated.

It's not very forward-thinking to have a slow train that has too many stops and does street running (freight trains, in particular, have gone through great lengths to ELIMINATE that--why are we doing that now?) nor does it make for a good 21st century choice, especially decades in the future.

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I've been out of this loop for a long time, so please indulge me a minute....  Is this light rail corridor still up in the air?  It's going to happen, for sure, right, well beyond the Galleria?  Is the route mostly confirmed and just getting the enviro-study?  I was following the deal when the Afton Oaks roadblock/detour first started -- and that seems like forever-ago.  So frustrating!

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A few points

 

The only effective way to build a rail transit system here is a bored tunnel subway. Cut an cover is horribly disruptive and hard on existing infrastructure, which is why London quit using that method a century or more ago. It is also much easier to make a bored tunnel system less prone to flooding, since openings into the tunnel are limited. In addition, underground lines are not restricted to the routes used by streets.

 

High speed commuter rail requires grade separation and complete fencing for safety.This is bad for any area where the lines are built. Elevated rail has other issues, including accessibility, cost, safety, and routing.

 

It is no surprise the Katy is congested during rush hour. It would be naive to think otherwise. During non-peak hours, the Katy is a pretty awesome way to get across town quickly.

 

Houston streets, in general are too narrow to support two traffic lanes and light rail

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A few more things:

- I'd like to see a feasibility study if Houston's soil could support a bored tunnel system.

- If you think that the Westpark ROW is a bad idea for the houses it backs, and you were all "screw Afton Oaks", you are a hypocrite and a liar if you think otherwise.

- If you think that the Westpark ROW is a bad idea because you think it won't get as much ridership as a Richmond line is, it wouldn't be the huge impact you may think it is. It's hard to believe that Culberson is evil because he blocked a line but a line a few blocks south is a terrible idea that won't get enough ridership.

- Light rail damages access, just as any road construction project does (even median additions). I worked at Village Foods in Bryan--the next to last AppleTree, which was bought by its own landlord from the dwindling chain in 2008 (of course it was dwindling by that point--but remember, AppleTree lasted longer as an independent chain than it did when it was a major one) and construction permanently damaged the shoppers at the store (they even sealed off the main entrance in the process). I've seen reports of businesses closing along the light rail (East End Sonic). Suppose that instead of slowly killing businesses with limited access, why not buy a bunch outright and run light rail parallel to Richmond, with the road snaking around buildings that cannot be moved? After all, I'm sure the city would love to see 1901 Richmond gone...

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I agree with raising the gas tax, but unfortunately I don't think any politician has the guts to do it.

I also think public transit should enhance quality of life for everyone regardless if he is fortunate or less fortunate. In the sense that it gives efficient transit from and where people need to go. This means whether or not you can afford to buy a car or not. It should b a viable alternative to the general population.

I have no problem with subsidizing public transit for those who need it, but if you want to promote public transit as a lifestyle choice for those that have other options than that shouldn't be subsidized. You've spoken frequently about "rail bias". If you want to build trains for those who prefer to use public transit instead of buses for those who need to ride it, then I don't see why it is the taxpayers' responsibility to subsidize that.

I'm fine with building rail as long as it can prove itself to be financially viable, but that very rarely happens. METROrail currently covers about 23% of its operating costs through fares. If people feel that passionately about how important it is to have trains in Houston, then they should be willing to pay the $5.00 one way fare that it would take to keep it revenue neutral assuming current ridership.

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Well, then we have to make sure we do it right. After having ridden many, many forms of transit around the country, I can say with confidence that heavy rail is by far the best transit mode we've got in 2014, and I think it's at least worth a serious look. There's no reason cities like Washington, DC can build a heavy rail system from scratch and we can't (well, I guess DC has a hell of a lot larger pool of money to draw from lol).

As far as some of the cities you mentioned, there are some interesting statistics I found from the National Transit Database. For example, in Los Angeles, the operating cost for heavy rail is only $2.20/rider while for light rail it is a whopping $3.7/rider. The cost per bus rider is $2.40. And take a look at Atlanta's statistics, an operating cost of only $2.40/rider for their heavy rail system and a cost of $3.40/rider for their bus system.

Miami is a lot higher, with a $4.10/rider operating cost for heavy rail and a $3.90/rider cost for bus riders.

With that being said, I think it's important to look at cost per rider for specific modes of transportation as well. Heavy rail usually performs very well in this area. I think that if done right a few heavy rail lines in Houston can be very successful.

And for those who insist upon a rubber-tired solution, I just got back from Paris and they have a really cool little tram/subway thingy, which runs on rubber tires and is very cool.

 

The problem with looking exclusively at operating costs when comparing heavy rail to other systems is that it doesn't factor in the debt burden related to the construction costs.  The initial construction of heavy rail in LA cost $4.5 billion for a 17 mile line ($265 million/mile).  That's a lot of debt to carry and finance especially if it's considered on a per rider basis even assuming that the Federal Government picks up part of the tab.  Unfortunately, the way that most transit agencies finance debt, it never goes away either, they just pay down the interest without ever reducing the principal.

 

The University line is planned at 11 miles.  Assuming that costs were consistent with LA's $265 million/mile (highly questionable given that the North Line just came in at about $150 million/mile for light rail), that would put the cost of heavy rail at about $3 billion for that corridor.  I just don't see it happening.

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Regarding Afton Oaks: was the rail planned to eliminate several blocks of homes along a 2 lane residential street? I thought that rail was planned to run along a 4 lane bus route with a center median and eliminate no houses? I fail to see the comparison, since Montrose, Mandell Place, and Boulevard Oaks all are roughly adjacent to Richmond comparable to Afton Oaks and other than the cleaners and ice machine business these neighborhoods supported rail.

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Still nothing.

 

It was word of mouth from staff, not a study, but we can easily check this on the back of an envelope.

 

FEIS says 49,200 riders a day in 2030.

Red line sees 5% of its daily boardings in the peak half hour.

So we can safely guess U Line sees 2,460 boardings in the peak half hour.

11.4 miles, 20 mph average speed (Red Line does over 17 south of Downtown and U line would have way more fast running)

That means roughly 70 minute round trip and 12 trains to operate the line at 6 minute headways.

So each train sees 205 boardings in that half hour.

If the average trip is 10 minutes then that's about 70 people on each train at one time.

BUT we peanut butter spread those passengers on all the trains which isn't realistic.

At any given time, let's say four of those trains are empty because they are at or near the end of the line.

That means 308 boardings per train in that half hour and 103 on each train at a time.

The analysis I spoke of was probably done in the era of 40 ft buses only, so that's a pair of crush loaded buses every six minutes.

So you'd probably want to make that three buses every six minutes or one every two.

Not quite a pair of buses every two minutes, but not too far off.

If we adjust the assumption to five empty trains and a 15 minute average trip then we get (351...176) 4.4 very full buses every six minutes, or 1.5 very full buses every 2.

 

So it seems within the realm of possibility. They also may have been looking at a further out year than 2030.

You think light rail trains mess up signals? Imagine a busway trying to get a bus through in each direction every minute or two.

I'm all about buses until the capacity issue arises, and in this case it seems to have arisen.

 

Final point, half of this discussion seems to be about whether light rail should serve urban circulation or suburban commutes. We all can have our opinions on what we'd like to see, but objectively one of those will serve far more riders than the other at a given level of investment.

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Regarding Afton Oaks: was the rail planned to eliminate several blocks of homes along a 2 lane residential street? I thought that rail was planned to run along a 4 lane bus route with a center median and eliminate no houses? I fail to see the comparison, since Montrose, Mandell Place, and Boulevard Oaks all are roughly adjacent to Richmond comparable to Afton Oaks and other than the cleaners and ice machine business these neighborhoods supported rail.

 

Afton Oaks has houses on Richmond, and only has a couple of entrances off of Richmond, and one off of Westheimer. Rail along that stretch of Richmond would pretty much destroy the lives of the people who live on Richmond, and make access for those in the interior of the subdivision very difficult. The median, with trees, would be removed, and once construction was complete, there would be a single traffic lane in each direction and the rail. The areas you mention have numerous alternative entrances and routes, and there are very few, if any, residences on Richmond in those locations.

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That makes no sense. Today you've got three travel lanes in each direction plus an esplanade and sidewalks. Looks like a 120' right-of-way through the residential area. One lane each way plus rail is about a 48' section. Add 12 for sidewalks. Where did the other 60 feet go?

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Afton Oaks has houses on Richmond, and only has a couple of entrances off of Richmond, and one off of Westheimer. Rail along that stretch of Richmond would pretty much destroy the lives of the people who live on Richmond, and make access for those in the interior of the subdivision very difficult. The median, with trees, would be removed, and once construction was complete, there would be a single traffic lane in each direction and the rail. The areas you mention have numerous alternative entrances and routes, and there are very few, if any, residences on Richmond in those locations.

Destroy lives? The floods in Pakistan in 2010 destroyed lives. Please stop the hyperbole.

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I have no problem with subsidizing public transit for those who need it, but if you want to promote public transit as a lifestyle choice for those that have other options than that shouldn't be subsidized. You've spoken frequently about "rail bias". If you want to build trains for those who prefer to use public transit instead of buses for those who need to ride it, then I don't see why it is the taxpayers' responsibility to subsidize that.

I'm fine with building rail as long as it can prove itself to be financially viable, but that very rarely happens. METROrail currently covers about 23% of its operating costs through fares. If people feel that passionately about how important it is to have trains in Houston, then they should be willing to pay the $5.00 one way fare that it would take to keep it revenue neutral assuming current ridership.

I think rail should be built for the whole population. If it's built properly people of all incomes will ride it and it will improve quality of life overall and help the city.

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I have no problem with subsidizing public transit for those who need it, but if you want to promote public transit as a lifestyle choice for those that have other options than that shouldn't be subsidized. You've spoken frequently about "rail bias". If you want to build trains for those who prefer to use public transit instead of buses for those who need to ride it, then I don't see why it is the taxpayers' responsibility to subsidize that.

I'm fine with building rail as long as it can prove itself to be financially viable, but that very rarely happens. METROrail currently covers about 23% of its operating costs through fares. If people feel that passionately about how important it is to have trains in Houston, then they should be willing to pay the $5.00 one way fare that it would take to keep it revenue neutral assuming current ridership.

Was discovery green or Hermann park a bad investment? They don't bring in financial results but they improve quality of life. Everything isn't black and white.

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That makes no sense. Today you've got three travel lanes in each direction plus an esplanade and sidewalks. Looks like a 120' right-of-way through the residential area. One lane each way plus rail is about a 48' section. Add 12 for sidewalks. Where did the other 60 feet go?

 

The RoW through Afton Oaks is 100 feet. If you leave the esplanade, and I think you have to, you get one rail line and one lane of traffic on each side. If you rip out the esplanade, you lose the trees, the green stuff, and make life even worse for residents on that street. If you want to build rail on Richmond, condemn Afton Oaks and turn it into a park. Don't make it an unlivable subdivision.

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