May 01, 2006
Put it where the people are

David Crossley and Christof Spieler have a good editorial in Sunday's paper about the goals and purposes of a good urban transit system. One point that they make that I think deserves a higher profile:

Although the purpose of the new urban rail and bus lines is to provide an urban framework, it will have a profound positive effect on existing suburban commuter transit service. Once urban activity centers are connected to each other, suburban commuters who now use the park-and-ride service will suddenly find they can get to places by transit that they couldn't get to before.

A rider coming in from the Katy area can now go to the Northwest Transit center, at I-10 and 610 west, or downtown. But he or she can't get express service to the Medical Center or even the nearby Galleria or Greenway Plaza. The Uptown and University lines will make that possible.

Those new connections to many places, including Greenway Plaza, downtown, Midtown, Galleria, Medical Center, four universities, the Museum District, the zoo and Hermann Park, Reliant Center, Montrose and many smaller centers will produce a new flurry of suburban transit commuters who suddenly are empowered to go far and wide without using their cars. That's important because four in five trips are not home-to-work, and many suburban commuters must leave the office for errands or business during or after work. If rail allows them to do that, they are more likely to use the commuter system.

The suburban commuter transit that people are talking about already exists, and it is among the best suburban commuter networks in the United States for getting downtown. What we need to do is to connect it to the rest of the centers, as many as possible. What we need is high-quality urban transit.

We have done and are doing a good job in Houston of making sure that people can get into and out of the city. Moving around once you get here is becoming more and more of a problem. Putting the focus on letting people do what they need to do without having to get in their cars - even those who used their cars to get here in the first place - is exactly the right idea.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 01, 2006 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack