December 22, 2008
Bike racks on trains: Not looking good

Peter Wang brings the bad news.

Despite letters from Judge Ed Emmett, all four Republican and Democratic Harris County Commissioners, and other public officials, METRO is going to place orders for the new trains on Christmas Eve 2008... without any in-cabin racks for bicycle. Our contact at the FTA, the funding agency for the trains, is extremely concerned, but FTA cannot compel METRO to order trains with bike racks.

It looks like we've failed at this point.

If the cycling community cares enough about this, then you can make one final effort on Monday or Tuesday next week. Call METRO CEO Frank J. Wilson's office at (713) 739-4832. Don't send an email. Make someone pick up the phone and spend the energy to talk to you. Also call the VP of Procurement, Paul Como, at (713) 739-4887. Tell him to not order the trains without bike racks.

I presume there's an issue with cost here, but it seems to me that this is something Metro should want to do, and that anyone who cares about mass transit in Houston should want Metro to do. Peter notes that the city of Phoenix will be debuting light rail cars with bike racks in them next week. Why them and not us? Make the calls as he suggests and ask.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 22, 2008 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Here's a reply from Phoenix:

Rail Life to me 9:35 PM (9 hours ago)

Rail Life has left a new comment on your post "We've failed to get bike racks on trains; this is ...":

I am sorry to hear that there are no bike racks there. We are fortunate that METRO has been good to the bike community in Phoenix. We do have bike racks on the trains, bike racks at the "park and ride" stations and even a large "Transportation Center" with great facilities in Tempe serving as a "transportation hub" for pedestrians, bus, rail etc featuring bike racks and shower facilities. Good luck with your fight. Bikes are a HUGE piece of the puzzle.

Posted by Rail Life to Bikes on Houston's Light Rail at December 21, 2008 7:35 PM

Posted by: Peter Wang on December 22, 2008 7:22 AM

Uhh, aren't you forgetting something?

MetroRail has only *18* light rail cars. They are carrying close to 900,000 riders a month, making it one of the heaviest lines in the US.

Where, exactly. are you going to put bike racks on these cars?

You'd have to rip out the aisle facing single seats. I'm sure *that* will be real popular with riders. The cars are mostly standing room only now.

I'm all for MetroRail accommodating bikes. But given the shoestring budget that they're on, they don't have enough cars to handle bikes 20/7.

And let's get real. Houston is not a biking city because riding a bike on Houston streets is a death wish with the sociopathic drivers here and the fact that streets and roads in this area have *not* been planned with bicycles and pedestrians in mind.

One thing Metro should do is put in bike racks at all its rail stations. That wouldn't be very capital intensive.

But let me repeat it another way: when you have 18 light rail cars carrying 45,000 a day, having bikes on board is simply not an option.

MetroRail is standing room only. Want bikes on trains? Then start fighting for more capital funding for Metro so that they can increase the size of their rail car fleet and indulge in the luxury of accommodating bicycles.

Posted by: Mike Harrington on December 22, 2008 9:27 AM

I was just in Portland, Oregon a few months ago and used their light rail. There are bike racks in the cars (there are bike racks EVERYWHERE in Portland). The racks store the bikes vertically by the door. The cars were very crowded and the racks did not seem to cause a problem.

Posted by: Rick Roberts on December 22, 2008 1:34 PM

Yeah, and Portland TriMet has the powers that be behind them. Here we have mostly rednecks who are dumber than s*** on a stick.

Houston Metro gets slammed for the most trivial things. Like when they raised their fare from a dollar to a $1.25, their first fare increase in fourteen years.

I saw an article in Passenger Transport Journal that showed that Houston light rail cars individually carried more passengers per year than any other light rail vehicle or subway car in the US.

Do the math. The line carries 11 *million* riders a year with just *eighteen* light rail cars.

This is Tom Delay's legacy, when he blocked FTA funding for Houston MetroRail.

I'll put it in perspective for you. In one year, just *three* Houston light rail cars carry the equivalent of the entire population of Houston, 2 million people.

In one year, Houston's eighteen light rail cars carry the equivalent of half the population of Texas.

Cogitate on this one. Houston's tiny light rail fleet in one year carries 3-1/2 times the population of Oregon.

What part about no-room-for-bike-racks-because-the-railcars-are-standing-room-only don't you understand?

Get the picture?

Dryden Station

This one's taken on a Sunday afternoon:

MetroRail Car on a Sunday in Hermann Park

Posted by: Mike Harrington on December 22, 2008 4:34 PM
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