Sunday, November 06, 2005

Commuter rail is the wrong ride

I have been delayed in writing an article about METRO's ill-advised push for commuter rail, while I was analyzing the new IRS collections data, for our annual update on that subject, which we pride ourselves in being among the first to publicize, each year. Well, we just released that article and its companion article, "The Economy Bomb", yesterday and I turned my attention to the overdue commuter rail article.

I had barely begun work on that article, when I received an email from Tom Bazan, alerting me to an Op-Ed in the Comical, by Tory Gattis. After reading what he said, I decided to scrap what I was writing, because Gattis had summed up the situation so well.

Instead of adding my two cents, I will simply point you to the Houston Strategies BLOG, where you can read the excellent summation, by Gattis, of just how wrong for Houston commuter rail, as envisioned by Metro, really is.

Check it out.


At 10:12 PM, Blogger Unknown said...


I read Gattis's blog, and I couldn't disagree more. I'm curious: have either of you lived elsewhere for a prolonged period of time? Or maybe it's the fact that when you wrote this blog entry, gas was half the price it is now?

I lived in New York City for six years. A rail system is crucial for moving people in a big city. Educated people have been saying so for years; and now conservatives who used to cling to their cars are changing their tune now that they hate driving their Suburbans under current gas price conditions.

My only caveat is this: it is remarkably easy to ruin a rail system if you're not building it where people need to go. But the proposed commuter rail plans use existing freight rail right-of-way that parallels our major freeways; i.e., where people need to go. So don't condemn a commuter rail system before it's built, and don't condemn it for the sake of condemning commuter rail systems. It's been proven to work in other cities (including New York, Boston, San Francisco, and most other world class international cities).

Additionally, I've had several discussions with local elected officials over the past month - including two conservative county commissioners and a liberal city councilmember. They all agree in principle to the same thing: a commuter rail system built as quickly as possible. And I guarantee you that nothing will change a Houston commuter's mind more quickly than sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic watching a train go by at 70 mph. That will be the moment our city changes, and we are on the cusp of seeing public opinion sway widely in favor of extensive rail transportation.


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