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Metro light rail groundbreaking

Asa we know, today was groundbreaking day for Metro on the North and Southeast lines. Here’s the coverage I could find: an oddly negative story from KTRK, stories from Fox and KHOU, and a story from Texas Cable News that has something near and dear to my heart, namely numbers.

Metro estimates that by 2030 about 129,000 people will be using Metro light rail. Here is the breakdown:

Light Rail 2030 projections

North Corridor 29,000

East End Corridor 14,950

Southeast Corridor 28,750

Uptown Corridor 8,500

And University Corridor 49,200

That doesn’t include the Main Street line, which I might add has far exceeded its initial ridership projections. The projection for the Uptown line feels low to me, but I’ll leave that to the experts to comment on. We don’t have a set route for the Uptown line in any event, and the possibility of the Universities line having multiple routes – one to Gulfton, the other along the Uptown track – is still out there, so these numbers are even more up in the air than usual. But they’ll be something to look back on in another five or ten years, so file them away for later. Urban Houstonian was at the ceremony and posted these pictures for your perusal.

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  1. The Main Street line is at 40,000 now; I’d expect 50,000+ due to added transfers from the other lines (and most of the boardings that come from the North Line will continue onto the Main Street Line, but they stay on the train, so they count those again.) That would put total boardings at 180,000. To put that in perspective, the busiest light rail system in the US today is Boston, with 222,000; second place is San Francisco, with 154,000.

    Uptown does seem low. But some sorts of trips — like shopping and students — tend to be undercounted by the models.

  2. JJMB says:

    It seems hard to compare — “put in perspective” — Houston’s 2030 forecast with the actual recent (perhaps 2008?) numbers that you give for Boston and San Fran. What are their 2030 forecasts? At least somewhat closer might be Houston’s forecast for 2013, or whenever all of these lines are supposed to be finished, maybe plus 12 months to get up to full operations. But comparing Houston 2030 and San Fran 2008 doesn’t tell me anything at all. And it’s not clear to me why Metro is offering up 2030 numbers in the first place. Are the 2013 numbers down at some embarassingly low number?

    I voted for the rail, but I haven’t been happy with what I have seen or pretty much anything that Metro says.

  3. They give 2030 numbers because that’s what the FTA requires them to calculate and what the project are evaluated based on. Those forecasts are made only when a system is planned, so there are no 25-year forecasts for existing systems. But it should be noted that the Main Street line reached its 20-year forecast in a year.

  4. […] in April of 2008; that routs is largely unchanged today. Groundbreaking on the Southeast Line was July of 2009. Construction was restarted after the Buy America fiasco in January, 2011. When exactly did it […]