Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

I’m an insider now

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

April Fool’s Day posts are a running tradition on Intermodality. But, when I started this blog in 2005, this April 1 news would have seemed the most unlikely of the bunch: 1. REQUEST from Mayor for confirmation of the appointment of the following individuals to the BOARD OF THE METROPOLITAN TRANSIT AUTHORITY: · Position One […]

A decade of megaprojects and hints of the future

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

The time has come to make end-of-the-decade lists (or, if you’re the Chronicle sports department, end-of-the-21st century lists). It has been a busy ten years in Houston transportation. It was a decade of huge projects, some controversial, some nearly unnoticed. It’s also been a decade of more modest projects that give a clue to what […]


Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

The Chronicle has an article this morning on Harris County’s new transit service in Pasadena: The neighborhood loops connect Crosby to Baytown, La Porte to Pasadena and South Houston, and Clear Lake to La Porte. The routes aren’t designed to deliver riders to downtown jobs — or to even connect to Metro trains and buses […]

Let’s talk about service

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

This is a commuter rail line: San Jose’s Altamont Commuter Express (ACE). It connects nine stations, one of them sort of close to a medium-sized employment center, one with a light rail connection to a suburban employment center, and seven which are basically no more than parking lots. There are six trains a day: three […]

Finding the center

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

A while back, I wrote about how planning divides Houston voters. But this year’s mayor’s race has been fought in the center. Read CTC’s candidate questionaires or the Houston Press’ last-minute primer and you’ll see the mayoral candidates more or less agreed on planning and transportation issues. I believe a broad consensus is building on […]

Pecha Kucha commuter rail!

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

This Thursday, Domy Books (Westheimer and Dunlavy, in the same compund as Brasil) is hosting Houston’s first Pecha Kucha night, and I’m one of the speakers. For the uninitiated, Pecha Kucha is a form of PowerPoint where the presenter gets only 20 slides, each of which stay on screen for exactly 20 seconds. The result […]

Political foursquare (and what it means for the mayor’s race)

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Today, with early voting underway, I offer a detour into politics: I think disagreements over development are splitting the electorate in unexpected ways — and I think there’s an opportunity to form a new governing coalition. We’ve gotten used to thinking of politics as a two way split. In terms of urban form, that split […]

High speed rail in Texas: options

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

I already looked at the sorry condition of megaregional transit in Texas. But that could change quickly. At the megaregion conference, politicians – Republicans and Democrats — from Houston, Austin, Fort Worth, and College Station all called for connecting Texas with intercity passenger rail. They also agreed that highway-centric state government needs to pay more […]

The commuter rail turf battle

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Carolyn Feibel’s Chronicle article does a good job of outlining the growing turf battle over commuter rail in the Houston region. METRO, Galveston, and the Gulf Coast Freight Rail District (with support from Harris County) are all pursuing their own, independent commuter rail plans. We have two uncoordinated studies for commuter rail from Houston to […]

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Monday, September 7th, 2009

this post was deleted because it was full of spam.

Ten transportation opportunities for the next mayor

Monday, September 7th, 2009

It’s Labor Day. The summer is over and, sooner or later, the public is going to start paying attention to the Houston mayoral race. The mayor of Houston is one of two local elected officials — the other is the Harris County Judge — who can get media attention pretty much whenever they want. Thus, […]

Think of the cargo

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Carolyn Feibel has a great piece in the Chronicle on freight rail. Not only does it take a big big picture look at transportation — which doesn’t happen very often — but it focuses on freight, not people. Where ever you are, look around. We are all outnumbered by stuff: food, clothes, gadgets, appliances, furniture, […]

The pieces are falling in place for piecemeal commuter rail

Friday, July 31st, 2009

There hasn’t been much public movement on commuter rail since the HGAC’s study was released a year ago. But quietly, gears are meshing, and we may have commuter rail to Galveston and Hempstead as early as 2012. On Thursday, the North Houston Association hosted a high-powered group: Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, METRO CEO Frank […]

NoZone: good questions, no easy answers

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Last week, the candidates for Mayor of Houston talked about land use at an unusual forum at the CAM. There were five candidiates, one moderator who posed quite length questions (the first was no less than 600 words), and seven “respondents” who were able to comment on the candidates’ answers. If you want to hear […]

America’s longest toll road has no pavement

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

You’re on Cajon Pass, in the mountains that separate the Los Angeles Basin from the high desert. On a hillside in the distance, big rigs are grinding up I-15. But you’re about to see a lot more trucks on the tracks in front of you. A train is approaching: 4 locomotives pulling 100 truck trailers, […]

Of the developers, for the developers?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Days after the City of Houston’s draft corridor urban corridors ordinance was released, Houstonians For Responsible Growth – a developer group that generally opposes any new building regulations – endorsed the new ordinance. Why would developers be so enthusiastic about a new piece of regulation? Because they wrote it. Here’s the makeup of the committee […]

Proposed ordinance: better sidewalks are required; better buildings are optional.

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

The City of Houston has spent the past three years on a process to develop new planning ordinances for the streets around METRO’s light rail stations. That process has now culminated in a draft ordinance, which will be considered at a public hearing before the Planning Commission meeting this Thursday, June 11, and will then […]

A high speed rail to-do list

Monday, May 25th, 2009

On Friday, the Federal Railroad Administration comes to town with a high speed rail workshop. Texas is surely one of the top five high speed rail prospects in the county. Houston, Austin, Dallas, Texas and San Antonio have 16 million people between them, all potentially within 2 hours of each other by high speed rail. […]

El Paso tries to kill Houston light rail

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

The Chronicle reports that an El Paso state representative, prodded by local rail opponents who can’t find any support within 700 miles of home, has attached an amendment to a bill that would effectively stop METRO’s entire light rail expansion program. This amendment applies only to Houston, not to Dallas or Austin or San Antonio […]

The map… now with a signature

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

On June 1, Metro will begin “Quickline” service along Bellaire from the light rail station at TMC Transit Center to just inside Beltway 8. This is what I call “better bus” and what METRO once called “signature bus“: our local version of Los Angeles’ Metro Rapid: specially branded buses, using regular traffic lanes but stopping […]