November 02, 2007
Who rides the train?

Christof has a neat summary of an H-GAC survey (PDF) on transit ridership. I don't have anything to add to his specific points, I just thought I'd mention my own reasons for having ridden the Main Street line over the past few years. I'm not a frequent rider - overall, I'd fall into the "once a month" category - but I have found numerous reasons to hop on board. In no particular order:

- Business meetings downtown. My company has a private shuttle that goes between my location and downtown, but it only runs once an hour (and takes the lunch hour off), so the train is more convenient. Sometimes I take the shuttle one way and the train the other, as my alternate choice is waiting a half-hour or more.

- Trips to the doctor, for me and for Tiffany during each of her pregnancies.

- Visiting people at a Med Center hospital.

- Lunch (mmm...Tacos a Go Go...).

- One time, with the Rice MOB, to go to Reliant Stadium.

- To get to and sometimes from work on days when one of our cars is in the shop. Sometimes that has involved Tiffany dropping me off downtown at a station, then me bumming a ride home. Twice (including today) it means me getting a ride downtown to a station from my mechanic, then taking the train back to that station in the afternoon and walking. The mechanic is on Montrose near Gray, so it's about a mile and a half walk from the Downtown Transit Center. On a beautiful day like today, that will be a pleasure.

All of these things (save for the last one) have two things in common. One is that I could have taken my car, but chose not to even though it probably would have been a bit faster. And two, the reason why I chose not to take my car is that the hassle (and in almost every case, the expense) of parking would have far outweighed whatever time I might have saved by driving.

I don't claim to speak for anyone else. I'll have to delve into the survey to see if they explored the question of what prompted people to try the rail alternative in the first place. But for me at least, if parking is a hassle and rail is an option, I'll take it if I can. I don't know yet how much I may wind up using the new lines. I just know there are places those lines will go where I'll be happy to have that option. Judging by this survey, it's clear I'm not alone in that sentiment.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 02, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles