So the issue of rail has been on my mind since the stories a few weeks back about Metro ignoring the voters and changing where they are wanting to put the next iteration of rail in Houston.
Back in the day, I voted against Kathy Whitmire’s monorail proposal as a much younger feller and I have generally been hostile to the concept of rail in Houston ever since then.
However, I have been enjoying driving around our fair city for a long time now and I am convinced that the Metro bus system is wholly inadequate as a long-term transportation system. Contemplating the buses for my own use I realized that I just didn’t really want to triple my commute time for the pleasure of a ride and I also wasn’t particularly keen on transferring between lines in Houston summers or downpours.
I also have had colleagues who rode the bus tell me tales of the ride and the random arrival times they experience due to traffic and other issues.
I watched with some trepidation as we built a rail route down main street that seemed to have a primary purpose of creating an attractive presence for the Super Bowl crowd. The destruction Metro created for minimal gains and a route that seems to be so well designed that it primarily gets publicity for smacking into citizens regularly. And the lack of ticket takers makes me think that the ridership numbers are merely justification for delivering more rail along routes we don’t really need.
In a city with the traffic we have parked on 290 every day, I have a hard time conceptualizing why we need another boutique rail line along
It seems to me, in my minimally trained transportation engineer self, that buses are simply inadequate for moving people efficiently in a city of Houston’s size. It also seems to me that Metro pretty much is in the business of doing whatever it wants to do regardless of what the people would like.
I believe we need a comprehensive rail solution but I don’t think the Metro folks are equipped to do it. I think any agency that operates as free of concern for voter opinions as Metro does should be disbanded and a new entity, with far more accountability and less subject to city manipulation should be developed.
My humble suggestion is a multi-county regional operation that is focused on moving people throughout the Houston-Galveston area with the possibility of expansion to other regional areas within an hour or so perimeter of the area be formed and that it develop a plan it will be bound to follow for voter approval throughout the region.
Sooner or later we’re going to have to bite the transportation bullet here. I’d rather get an agency thinking more broadly and with more accountability focused on this problem than our current situation provides.