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Didn't the city loosen the parking requirements?

 

 

They did in some ways, but also made it worse in others. Now side by side businesses can share parking, and apartments can get reductions in parking requirements if built near light rail stops, and they can also exchange parking for bike parking, up to a certain percentage. However, there is an additional amount of guest parking that was made mandatory for apartments, so even with reductions it ends up being a wash if those even come into play.

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They did in some ways, but also made it worse in others. Now side by side businesses can share parking, and apartments can get reductions in parking requirements if built near light rail stops, and they can also exchange parking for bike parking, up to a certain percentage. However, there is an additional amount of guest parking that was made mandatory for apartments, so even with reductions it ends up being a wash if those even come into play.

 

Assuming the kind of redevelopment needed or wanted along the line is ground floor retail with apartments above, doesn't the extra guest parking also serve as extra parking for the businesses?  Or, since these are larger projects with, presumably, garage parking, how many extra spaces do they really need to have and couldn't they be dual-purposed?  Seems like having both extra parking tucked behind or under the building and rail service in front would be ideal, wouldn't it?

 

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Just got back from traveling the length of the extension.  I thought it was pretty nice.. the elevated portions were nice and reminded me of transit in other cities.  Too bad we couldn't do more grade separations here. 

 

Was on a two car train that was about half full on the way up, and was on a completely full one car train on the way back.  Decent ridership right now, hopefully it keeps up.

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Assuming the kind of redevelopment needed or wanted along the line is ground floor retail with apartments above, doesn't the extra guest parking also serve as extra parking for the businesses? Or, since these are larger projects with, presumably, garage parking, how many extra spaces do they really need to have and couldn't they be dual-purposed? Seems like having both extra parking tucked behind or under the building and rail service in front would be ideal, wouldn't it?

It sure would, but by no means having minimum parking the enemy of walkable areas (it just depends on where it's placed). I think that parking should deal with what's available (decent on-street parking versus not, etc.) Shared parking is an idea that they should've done a long time ago, but apartments guest parking are a different beast altogether: especially since large garden apartment complexes aren't particularly known for adding to a walkable neighborhood.

Just got back from traveling the length of the extension. I thought it was pretty nice.. the elevated portions were nice and reminded me of transit in other cities. Too bad we couldn't do more grade separations here.

I kind of wish there was some spare ROW instead of having to lobotomize normal roads and spare businesses only to let them slowly suffer as they become harder to access.
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I kind of wish there was some spare ROW instead of having to lobotomize normal roads and spare businesses only to let them slowly suffer as they become harder to access.

 

Well, you have less ridership when you run trains in old ROW cause that's not where the people are. 

 

What you describe are short term problems that resolve themselves long before the rail line becomes obsolete. 

 

I wish the rail were in a subway in high traffic areas like the TMC though, and hopefully the consider separating portions of the line when they become a bigger problem.

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Well, you have less ridership when you run trains in old ROW cause that's not where the people are.

What you describe are short term problems that resolve themselves long before the rail line becomes obsolete.

I wish the rail were in a subway in high traffic areas like the TMC though, and hopefully the consider separating portions of the line when they become a bigger problem.

I wish ALL the lines were subway, but hey, when youre in a city as anti-rail as Houston, you take what you can get.
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Well, you have less ridership when you run trains in old ROW cause that's not where the people are.

Not NECESSARILY old railroad ROW, though if it were up to me, the light rail on Harrisburg would go up Milby and on the old ROW (remember, that was originally supposed to be a highway at one time), cross the railroad with an elevated platform (no expensive underpasses), there's ample ROW where there is a railroad (no spurs!), take out the Sonic (now closed anyway) and two other buildings, and you're at the transit center. Harrisburg Blvd. is improved with sidewalks etc., and the light rail is not very far away from commercial businesses.

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Not NECESSARILY old railroad ROW, though if it were up to me, the light rail on Harrisburg would go up Milby and on the old ROW (remember, that was originally supposed to be a highway at one time), cross the railroad with an elevated platform (no expensive underpasses), there's ample ROW where there is a railroad (no spurs!), take out the Sonic (now closed anyway) and two other buildings, and you're at the transit center. Harrisburg Blvd. is improved with sidewalks etc., and the light rail is not very far away from commercial businesses.

 

Where? The existing railroad that's still in use?

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I wish ALL the lines were subway, but hey, when youre in a city as anti-rail as Houston, you take what you can get.

 

Agreed, or at least in a subway in downtown/TMC/other higher traffic areas and elevated elsewhere.  Would cost a lot more, but would be more useful over a longer period of time.

 

EDIT: 1,000 posts, yeah!

Edited by mfastx
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Why exactly is this being compared to the Pierce elevated, which was purposely built "elevated" to allow access across it?  If you're going to compare the way this affects traffic patterns on E/W bound streets, then your basis for comparisons are OBVIOUS and they already exist in the area affected...the North Freeway, the East Tex freeway, Hardy Toll Road, and the Union Pacific ROW along the Hardy.  I don't even have to see this thing to know that probably the main routes E/W are the same as they've always been and that they are the same streets that are able to cross the UP ROW along the Hardy toll road. Any bitching is just someone no longer able to cut across on a small street or lane like they used to, but I highly doubt that same small street got you anywhere else because of the freeways and existing rail anyway.

Edited by JJxvi
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That was enjoyable, and the 4x speeding created all sorts of fun effects, like the incomprehensible squeaking that was once announcing the stations and which side to exit on, and the rapidly flashing stoplight warning sign (at about 3:00).

Does it only make the horn when it approaches a "traditional" crossing (i.e. crossbucks and gates?)

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Anyone taken the full trip from Fannin South to Northline? 

 

Not quite the full trip, but last weekend I did the segment from the Lindale Park station to Fannin South and back. From where I'm at this will definitely be great for trips to the museum, Reliant (no more $10+ parking fees), the Continental Club, and lots more. 

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Not quite the full trip, but last weekend I did the segment from the Lindale Park station to Fannin South and back. From where I'm at this will definitely be great for trips to the museum, Reliant (no more $10+ parking fees), the Continental Club, and lots more. 

 

How long did it take one-way?  Do all the trains go all the way from one end to the other or do you have to be careful which ones you board?

 

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How long did it take one-way?  Do all the trains go all the way from one end to the other or do you have to be careful which ones you board?

 

 

Roughly half an hour one-way. The trains go all the way from one end to the other with stops at each station. When we reached Fannin South, we debarked just long enough to purchase a return ticket, then immediately reboarded for the trip back. 

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Roughly half an hour one-way. The trains go all the way from one end to the other with stops at each station. When we reached Fannin South, we debarked just long enough to purchase a return ticket, then immediately reboarded for the trip back. 

 

Travel time end-to-end is 50 minutes.  (It was already a 30 minute ride from end-to-end on the original Red Line.)

 

Not all trains go the entire length of the red line.  Some northbound trains terminate at Burnett Station.  So, either you have to be careful which train you board, or, worst case, you get off at Burnett Station and wait for the next train.

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Interesting blog post and a good read. 

 

I wholeheartedly agree.  The University line far and away would be the most utilized and highest ridden line.  It's a shame that METRO and the city can't get the ball rolling on this, the FTA is literally trying to give us money for it. 

 

I hope some semblance of a better quality and higher capacity east-west connector is built sometime in the next 20 years or so, as it is sorely needed. 

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I thought the train went entirely way too slow through for the new Red line.  There were several overpasses and steep turns, which I understand it will go slower through, but I thought it went TOO slow through both of them.  It felt like it went 5 mph through the turns, which it should be able to handle much faster than that.  I also thought it went too slow through the residential areas.  Lastly, I was surprised that the train had to stop, twice even, at such places as the 610-North loop underpass, where it clearly had no preferential treatment to crossing automobile traffic.  My entire thought was it that this is a much slower mode of transportation than a bus.  I think the UH Downtown station southward generally makes fairly decent time as a transportation medium, the new Red line north of UH Downtown is horribly slow. 

 

I also thought the Burnett Station seemed very out of place, stuck 3 stories up on an overpass.  Hmm.....

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At times, the video did seem pretty slow. In the case of crossing the 610 frontage roads, they are lights, which can be timed better. In the cases when the original Red Line was built a decade ago, there were all sorts of problems, like people turning left into the train. (watch "Metro's Greatest Hits", for such follies). I haven't heard of too many problems with the extension yet.

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I also thought the Burnett Station seemed very out of place, stuck 3 stories up on an overpass.  Hmm.....

Burnett Station is my favorite light rail station in Houston. out of place? maybe, considering most of that line runs through residential, but it sure is cool and an excellent vantage point of the downtown skyline. hopefully something cool happens with the hardy yards site and the station doesnt look so random perched up in the air next to an empty field anymore.

do the trains have to follow the speed limit (30mph i assume?) through the residential areas, or can it go faster (ive been past by the train while going at least 35 going down the road between the medical center and the museum district)? i wonder if when the area starts shifting from strictly residential to a more urban environment with shops/restaurants/TODs/large residential developments along it if they will increase the speed limit on that road to 35 (if it is currently 30), also speeding up the trains through the north line. and i assume the timing of the lights will get better so the trains will start to get the green light more often and reduce/eliminate the wait times at stop lights, also speeding up the line.

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Interesting blog post and a good read. 

 

I wholeheartedly agree.  The University line far and away would be the most utilized and highest ridden line.  It's a shame that METRO and the city can't get the ball rolling on this, the FTA is literally trying to give us money for it. 

 

I hope some semblance of a better quality and higher capacity east-west connector is built sometime in the next 20 years or so, as it is sorely needed. 

i thought so too. 

im not entirely sure it would be "far and away" the highest ridden line, as it would be feeding into the red/Main St line, increasing the number of riders on the Red line at the same time. it will definitely be up there with the red line (which by that time when the university line is open, connecting the uptown BRT [hopefully LRT sooner than later] into the system, and the east end/south east lines all tying into the main street line, it will hopefully be 50,000+ people a day), and university line might even be higher ridership than Main St, but i dont think it will be by too much.

the idea of splitting the University line in half and building out the half in Poe's district, providing another link to UH, and TSU, while also bringing in additional riders from midtown/museum park/montrose/shepherd is an interesting concept.. though it still leaves the uptown BRT cut off from the system. will culberson support BRT through his district? it would be a pain in the ass to transfer from uptown BRT to university BRT to university LRT, but its a thought since culberson is being a douche about LRT.

in the next 20 years? i hope we have an east-west connector in the next 10 years. preferably a full fledged university line LRT. i also love the idea (though know it wont happen in the next decade) of running commuter rail trenched from the Post Office site in northern downtown to i-10, and then continuing on (not trenched i guess) along the Hempstead railroad, connecting into a northern terminus of the Uptown line, before continuing on into the suburbs of 290. We need commuter rail in Houston, and being able to bring it all the way into downtown is just icing on the cake. not everyone wants to take the slower LRT from uptown, down the university line, to the red line, if they dont have to. hopefully they get a westpark commuter rail built in the next couple decades as well, connecting into the westpark transit center. though when i asked Metro about commuter rail service they linked me to their study for the 90A line, connecting into south fannin transit center, while also mentioning they are still doing studies on "numerous options" for a 290 route, so maybe we will see commuter rail in the next decade on 90A. i hope they come up with something close to the trenched commuter rail proposal along the hempstead tracks for the 290 segment.

on a side note, i just looked at a satellite view of Houston and realized there is ROW all the way along Westpark, well past the Westpark transit center, and then along the side of 59 up until Montrose. after that if they just got rid of a small section of a parking lot, they could continue a westpark/59 commuter rail line all the way up to Main St. Wheeler Station is just a block or two away from that point, so you could get creative with an elevated stretch before dumping the commuter rail out at Wheeler Station (which by that time will be a large hub, being the intersection of the Main St and University Lines). a Westpark commuter rail line with stops at Wheeler Station, Westpark (Uptown line terminus) Transit Center, Beltway 8, Highway 6 and Grand Parkway would be extremely ideal IMO.

Edit. just found a Metro Westpark Corridor Study from 2010 talking about doing a study on the area between Wheeler Station and the Grand Parkway.. i had no idea they ever planned for it to go all the way into Wheeler. im not sure how those plans will be effected now if the University Line gets built as planned with a segment going down Westpark, as the light rail would almost certainly take up all of the available ROW through that segment of the Westpark corridor. i suppose they could elevate the commuter rail line above the light rail lines, or run the commuter trains straight onto the light rail tracks for that short LRT stretch before continuing straight along the westpark/powerline ROW just south of 59. hopefully they dont end the commuter rail at the hillcoft or westpark transit center (of course there would be a stop there, for the uptown people, and those exiting to get on LRT for the local stops like Greenway/Upper Kirby).. a transfer to light rail and then the ride down the university line would take much longer than a direct commuter rail route along the powerlines to the red line at Wheeler Station, for the people going to downtown or the medical and museum districts. 

"As part of the METRO Solutions Transit Plan a series of studies were conducted on the Westpark corridor in 2004, to assess the transit need in the corridor and evaluate the most feasible types of transit to serve that need. The corridor study examined Advanced High-Capacity Transit (AHCT) from the Wheeler station on the existing METRORail Red Line to the Grand Parkway. It was composed of three components: needs assessment, transit improvement options, and the study findings & evaluation.

The corridor study evaluated light rail transit (LRT) and bus rapid transit (BRT) and recommended that each alternative needed to be evaluated in a system context to determine which would be most effective in serving the transit needs of the corridor." - Page 7

http://www.ridemetro.org/METROVision/PDFs/WestparkCorridor_Screenline-111710.pdf

Edited by cloud713
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I am guessing/hoping that the North Loop frontage road stops are a bit of a safety check until people get used to having a train coming through.  I didn't notice any crossing arms at that intersection, as there are where the line splits apart just south of the Wheeler station and at the South Loop frontage roads (though to be fair, people will figure out any number of ways to run into big things).

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I am guessing/hoping that the North Loop frontage road stops are a bit of a safety check until people get used to having a train coming through.  I didn't notice any crossing arms at that intersection, as there are where the line splits apart just south of the Wheeler station and at the South Loop frontage roads (though to be fair, people will figure out any number of ways to run into big things).

 

There are indeed crossing arms on the north loop frontage roads.

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Travel time end-to-end is 50 minutes.  (It was already a 30 minute ride from end-to-end on the original Red Line.)

 

Not all trains go the entire length of the red line.  Some northbound trains terminate at Burnett Station.  So, either you have to be careful which train you board, or, worst case, you get off at Burnett Station and wait for the next train.

 

Didn't seem like it was anywhere close to 50 minutes, but we got off before the last two northbound stations, and I believe there's a longer distance between the Lindale Park station and the Northline Transit Center than between any other group of three stations. 

 

The one we were on went the entire length, so I thought that they all did. I'm assuming that they indicate the ones that terminate at Burnett via the LED route signs on the front of the cars?

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  • 1 year later...

I saw this in an article from another thread..

"Central Square is one block from the red line and every stop between this location and NRG Stadium will be new by the 2017 Super Bowl."

Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com/houston/news/office/behind-the-scenes-at-central-square-plazas-redevelopment-50075?utm_source=CopyShare&utm_medium=Browser?utm_source=CopyShare&utm_medium=Browser

is this news or have i just missed it? what will the new stations look like.. the East/Southeast line stations?

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One of my biggest wishes is that the Wheeler station would be turned into a real rail oriented development. Not likely, but would love to see it happen as part of this effort.

Agreed. And I've noticed METRO owns a decent bit of property on both sides of 59 around Wheeler Station. I wonder why they own it all/if any could be sold to developers one day whenever the local demographics get better. I was kind of bummed that property west of wheeler station is going to be renovated into homeless vet housing but it's nice for them I suppose.

Edited by cloud713
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Agreed. And I've noticed METRO owns a decent bit of property on both sides of 59 around Wheeler Station. I wonder why they own it all/if any could be sold to developers one day whenever the local demographics get better. I was kind of bummed that property west of wheeler station is going to be renovated into homeless vet housing but it's nice for them I suppose.

Hasn't that homeless vet housing at the old Days Inn been there for years?

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Agreed. And I've noticed METRO owns a decent bit of property on both sides of 59 around Wheeler Station. I wonder why they own it all/if any could be sold to developers one day whenever the local demographics get better. I was kind of bummed that property west of wheeler station is going to be renovated into homeless vet housing but it's nice for them I suppose.

 

If the they ever build the University line(wheeler station) this would be a great area for a large development.

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Huh? I mean the new veterans housing going in at the 2 story building across Main from Wheeler Station. They're eveb adding a 3rd floor. Could of made for some neat studios/lofts with ground floor gallery/work space or something but alas the demographic seems destined to remain crappy around that area for the near future..

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Agreed. And I've noticed METRO owns a decent bit of property on both sides of 59 around Wheeler Station. I wonder why they own it all/if any could be sold to developers one day whenever the local demographics get better. I was kind of bummed that property west of wheeler station is going to be renovated into homeless vet housing but it's nice for them I suppose.

 

I think they were planning to use that space for commuter rail space, university rail station space, more busses - I think their thinking is using it for more Wheeler station

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  • 4 years later...

As we all know, the Red Line hooks west and goes up Greenbriar where it splits in a Y with Fannin, and continues to Braeswood where it turns east and then turns again at the intersection with Fannin. There is one station in between at Smith Lands, which serves a giant parking lot and some apartments. As we all also know, TMC 3 is a massive development proposed east of Bertner between MD Anderson and Baylor. This is quite the walk from either the TMC transit center or from Smith Lands, which has no reasonable direct path. It means people who work at TMC 3 who might otherwise use the Red Line probably won't.

 

WHAT IF we realigned the Red Line to just stick to Fannin, closing the detour onto Greenbriar, the sharp curves, and the station at Smith Lands? This is a shorter route(approx .7 miles vs .9 currently). This would allow a station to be built perhaps around the intersection of Fannin and St. Agnes(one of those side streets that goes to Bertner). Then within the recommended quarter-mile walking distance that most planners seem to agree is how far folks walk, you got MD Anderson and the western Bertner facing side of the TMC 3 complex. And its only a .3 mile walk to the heart of TMC3.

 

Since the red line has more than one depot now, it wouldn't hurt to have to close the southern tail of the line and do a bus bridge for the few days it would take to join the track segments.

 

If this was done, it would ensure even more jobs are within striking distance of Houston's highest ridership transit corridor.

 

So what do ya'll think?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think this is a great idea with one (significant) concern. Many people park in the Smith Lands lot and ride the Light Rail to their jobs in the heart of the TMC. Move the station and those people - a large number - will have to be accommodated.

 

My thought - without any real engineering - is an autonomous bus that would connect your new light rail station to the parking lot and maybe even some of the other medical facilities along OST.

 

Just dreaming here.

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2 hours ago, Brooklyn173 said:

I think this is a great idea with one (significant) concern. Many people park in the Smith Lands lot and ride the Light Rail to their jobs in the heart of the TMC. Move the station and those people - a large number - will have to be accommodated.

 

My thought - without any real engineering - is an autonomous bus that would connect your new light rail station to the parking lot and maybe even some of the other medical facilities along OST.

 

Just dreaming here.

 

Some thoughts:

 

1. It might be easier to just not demolish the older alignment. Have a single LRV that goes to Dryden and back. They could also use the Smith Lands line for rodeo, football, etc.

2. Instead of an automated bus they could use a cheap mini bus similar to Metro Lift. It could be a community connector route. They'd keep the rail alignment for it to drive on.

3. Compare the long term cost of operating a transit service and maintaining current lot versus the cost of building parking garages somewhere else then selling the land.

4. Do an analysis of where the drivers who park at Smith Land come from. If they are coming from 610, then maybe expand the Fannin South Park and Ride and give everyone who parked at Smith Lands a special parking permit. This could be done by either A) leasing the parking on the old Astroworld site from the Rodeo people for a few years or B ) they buy and tear down that vacant Sams Club to the north of the existing lot and then expand the P&R out to the highway.

 

Edited by zaphod
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  • The title was changed to METRORail Red Line

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