July 27, 2005
Where will the Galleria rail line go?
Now that we know there's going to be an east-west rail line from UH to the Galleria, the question is where exactly will the tracks be? Residents of Afton Oaks, on Richmond near 610, say not in my front yard.
In the face of strong and vocal opposition from Afton Oaks residents, Metro President and CEO Frank Wilson said a future light rail line to the Galleria area likely would bypass the neighborhood and its oak-lined Richmond Avenue median.
Wilson said an alternate route probably would combine parts of Richmond, Westpark and a connection over the Southwest Freeway.
"But which of those alternates, which of those crossings, which of those connections, is something we have to take a closer look at," Wilson said.
Wilson's comments followed a three-hour meeting with Afton Oaks residents Monday night.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority's maps of the proposed University (formerly East-West) line show Westpark and Richmond as alternative routes west of Main, with a possible crossover at Timmons, Weslayan or the Union Pacific rail tracks. Monday night, several residents suggested Edloe as a crossover.
Splitting the route that way would prevent the loss of homes required to widen Richmond for the rail tracks, as well as spare the trees and calm residents — who told Wilson repeatedly that a rail down Richmond would lower their home values and impede their access to a street already busy with traffic. But Wilson said the route cannot run solely on Westpark, which he described as a "desert" separated by the broad Southwest Freeway from Greenway Plaza, Lakewood Church and other sources of riders to the north.
That means, he said, the Westpark route as initially designed would be "a non-starter" with federal funding authorities, who look at a project's benefit-to-cost ratio.
By contrast, the transit CEO said, Richmond is "the shortest line between two points" and would have more riders than Westpark, lowering costs and increasing benefits.
The line does not need to go wholly on Richmond to achieve that, he said. He added: "A split may be the winning solution."
suggests the crossover at the Union Pacific line, which is west of Weslayan but east of Afton Oaks, and I think that makes a lot of sense. Richmond narrows from three lanes each way to two east of Kirby, and that will make for a tight fit especially between Kirby and Shepherd where there's still a lot of traffic on Richmond, but at least there's still a median there so it ought to be doable. I certainly hope they can avoid having to share track space with left turn lanes, as there's no way that could work.
On a side note, I'm just impressed that Frank Wilson actually attended that three-hour meeting with the Afton Oaks folks and seems to have listened to their feedback. I wish TxDOT and HCTRA were half that accomodating.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 27, 2005 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Why not run it right through Lakewood Church? That's what they should have done with the Summit - turned it into a transit center.
Let the condemnation proceedings begin!
Urban rail is an absolute, abysmal, abominable failure in Houston, and, to extend it will only squander more precious taxpayer resources, and unfairly indenture future generations who will be obligated to pay off the bonds.
The current pro-rail policy is a willful and intentional discrimination by the plutocracy controlled transit authority which has harmed the poor, minorities, elderly and handicapped bus transit dependent throughout the service area.
In the recent state mandated performance audit, METRO was found to be deficient and derelict in it's duty to provide the requisite level of service to the transit dependent throughout the service area. Yet METRO increased the diversion of declining resources to tram operations.
The recent midyear report posted to the METRO site is dismal. What should be UP is DOWN, and what should be DOWN is UP!
The June 2005 system ridership, which includes a massive amount of double-counting the bus riders who are forced onto the tram so as to maintain the illusion of METRORail's claim of success, increased a mere 1.13% from last year. Bus ridership again declined an additional -1.72% from the June 2004 number, and that was a decline from 2003.
To prove the point. The fare box revenue in June 2005 fell a whopping -48%, from $3,724,140.00 in 2004, to a paltry $1,936,783.06 in June of this year.
Even though the bogus estimated tram ridership number increased, the real indicator, Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) revenue, as a ratio of claimed riders, actually slipped -2% from June 2004. We must focus on TVM data as, there are no turnstiles, and no way to debit SVC's or pre-paid monthly passes which are not accepted if not activated by using a bus first, which is then merely a forced transfer in the vast majority of cases.
METRO can not survive scrutiny of any FTA required Certification of Financial Capacity for these proposed grandiose tram extensions.
These European Socialist-style transit modes are ill-suited for Houston, and, are huge terrorist targets which are imposible to defend in the current configuration.
In regard to METRO and the central planner's promise of Utopia if we build more boondoggle rail, I wish to echo the infamous words of State Rep. Fred Hill and urge the former pro-METRO lemmings:
"the time to kill the snake is when you have the hoe in your hand!"
Rail is here, we want more. Now the arguement is where and how. Rail being an easy target for terrorist in a city with NASA, the world's largest oil complex, the 3rd largest port in the country, and a huge medical center is streching it a little.
Tell you what, I work right beside the rail. I sure as hell would never work right on the Freeway. As an asthmatic, you bet I support alternative mass transit.
Rail haters, please note we have officially left the 20th century and your time is up. Our city seal has a freak'n train on it. So if you don't like rail, catch the next train out of town.
quote:"Urban rail is an absolute, abyssmal failure"
I think the freeways in Houston are even worse, what next 30-40 lanes?