And new technology has other problems, too. You don’t want to be the first to try something out. The Las Vegas monorail was behind schedule, above budget, and it was shut down twice after it opened, once because pieces were falling off and landing on the sidewalk below. It’s working now, and it carries 23,000 trips a day…
...but then so 1940s streetcars in San Francisco. Spot me one modern invention – air conditioning – and I can build you a quite functional transit system using 1880s technology.
The Main Street line takes 30 minutes to travel 7.5 miles: the trains only go 35mph. That sounds slow, but it’s not top speed that matters. It’s the overall tiemopf the tirp.
Let’s quantify that: a three mile train ride with a quarter mile walk at either end. With a top speed of 35mph – a light rail train running down a city street – that’s a 19 minute trip.
But 35 is slow, right? What happens if we go up to 60? Well, that makes the train part of the trip a bit shorter. But to go faster we had to put our train somewhere else – an abandoned railroad line, a freeway. But it’s unlikely that is going to be in the same place I want to go to. So my five minute walk at the end becomes a 10-minue walk, and the trip actually takes longer than before.
OR we can try to speed things up by having fewer stations. That actually speeds up the train trip more than a higher speed does. But once again I walk more, and the overall trip is longer.
As with any process, it was critical to choose a place to begin. In this case, the place to begin was obvious: the Westheimer Corridor, the corridor with the highest average daily ridership and the most complex route structure. In FY2005, METRO had 2 routes with 6 branches and different days of operation in this corridor. Through a 4-step process over 3 years, METRO converted this corridor from 2 routes with 6 branches and different days to 3 routes with 0 branches operating 7 days.
The goal of this effort was to improve customer service. Did we succeed? One of the best measurements of success in providing improved customer service is ridership. And in this case ridership in the Westheimer Corridor grew by 19.5% between FY2005 and FY2008.
And passenger information needs to be coordinated, too: one website with all the transit info for the whole area.
But transferring is not just about the physical connection. It’s about the fares as well. They do that well in Europe, too, and badly in the Bay Area. Caltrain uses one ticket, Muni uses another, BART uses a third. One trip might involve three different ticket vending machines. But in London one pass works on all train, underground, and bus.
But here’s the kicker: the Houston line is way more effective. It carries 2/3 as many trips for only 1/5 the cost.
New office towers: Hess (AKA Discovery) (2010), MainPlace (2010), 1000 Main (2003), Calpine (2003), 5 Houston Center (2002), Chevron (was Enron) (2002)
A good example: San Francisco vs. Washington. Two systems, started around the same time, built with the same technology, and with the same length of track. But DC’s system carries twice as many riders.
This is a functional light rail line. But would you want to walk here?
This is more like it, right? Every transit project should try to improve the pedestrian environment.
…and it has dozens.
So how do you get this stuff right? You involve the public. Not just to meet legal requirements, but because it will make for better transit.
Christof SpielerMETRO Board Member
Green Transit:tools for planners,leaders and citizens
Travel time, Downtown to TMCsubway walk waitlight rail leave garage trip enter garage car walk 0 10 20 30 Travel times from Google
¼ mile walk = 5 min. ¼ mile walk = 5 min. 3 mile train ride, top speed 35 mph = 8.5 min 18.5 minutes
¼ mile walk = 5 min. ¼ mile walk = 5 min. 3 mile train ride, top speed 35 mph = 8.5 min 18.5 minutes¼ mile walk = 5 min. ½ mile walk = 10 min. 3 mile train ride, top speed 60 mph = 7 min 22 minutes
¼ mile walk = 5 min. ¼ mile walk = 5 min. 3 mile train ride, top speed 35 mph = 8.5 min 18.5 minutes¼ mile walk = 5 min. ½ mile walk = 10 min. 3 mile train ride, top speed 60 mph = 7 min 22 minutes ½ mile walk = 10 min.¼ mile walk = 5 min. 3 mile train ride, top speed 35 mph = 6 min 21 minutes
Light RailPark and Ride Bus on time late Local Bus 0 20 40 60 80 100
Park & Ride: choice transit Transit use for Downtown workers by commute distance706050403020100 0-1 1-5 5-10 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 over 70 miles miles miles miles miles miles miles miles miles miles Downtown Houston Commute Survey Report, Central Houston, Inc., August 2009