Houston, We Have a (Traffic) Problem…And Solution

Houston Map 2The mission of Capital Metro’s Connections 2025 effort is to create a new service plan for our agency while moving transit forward in our region. Part of this process includes looking to other cities for best practices, lessons learned and potential pitfalls so we can fold appropriate nuances into our planning. Because, let’s be honest, nobody wants to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch.

In that spirit, we recently invited Houston Metro’s Vice President of Planning, Kurt Luhrsen, to speak to our board of directors. Last year, Houston unveiled New Metro, its reimagined New Bus Network. The goals of their plan included realigning the network to a grid; creating as many frequent routes as possible; making routes easy to understand; operating service seven days a week; utilizing existing vehicles facilities and resources where possible; and keeping operating costs neutral.

The end product of their reimagined network: Houston added 1,000 new bus stops–connecting an estimated million people to a million jobs on their frequent network. The board ultimately elected to increase their operating budget by 3 percent, in order to maintain fixed-route service for some areas with low and declining ridership.

So far, it’s working.Houston Bus 2

A year-over-year comparison of each month since the unveiled plan shows an increase in ridership. Houston continues to tweak service based on feedback of over-crowded vehicles and like all good service plans, service is constantly being evaluated.

Luhrsen’s presentation emphasized the importance of public participation EARLY. Here’s where YOU come in! Our survey will remain live through March 13th, and we encourage you take the time to fill it out here. This will allow us to incorporate your feedback at the front end of our planning. Please help us understand how our service could better meet your transit needs.

Public participation is paramount. If we are to see a future in motion, our effort will require the public’s active involvement.

One thought on “Houston, We Have a (Traffic) Problem…And Solution

  1. Vincent Foster

    How does one get a concept for a solution to Houston traffic problem to the right audience?
    I’m an engineer who is used to providing novel solutions to difficult problems. For years now I keep trying develop an idea which combines current technologies to solve the problem. It’s a combination technologies, elevated monorail, modified buses and electrical drives to eliminate pollution. The concept is simple. Dual concrete/steel elevated rails are provided with two inverted “T” rails. The ground footprint would be very small and could be potentially installed in locations of existing roadways. Look what Houston currently does with elevated roadways. The twin rail design is for unidirectional travel of buses during peak hours and bi-directional during non peak hours. The buses that run on these would have a center channel running down the middle of them so they can run up onto ( mount) the “T” rail. The buses would be able to run on conventional roads for local pickup and drop-off of passengers and then run up onto the “T” rail for travel between major junctions. Buses would be electric, running on batteries during local pickup and drop off and then switch to powered pick-up from the “T” rails. No Pollution and little to no noise. In the event of a malfunction of a bus while on the “T” rail would require the next bus along to be able to shunt the bus along the rail to the next dismount point. With modern day control systems and radar sensing there would be zero possibility of collisions while on the “T” rail system or of doors opening in error.
    It’s a simple concept and all the technologies and infrastructure to build the rail systems and buses exist. I would love to have somebody seriously consider such a design. Houston is not short of the companies to design and build such a system. Lets try to lead the way for Houston and other major cities with similar transit problems.

    Regards

    Vincent Foster

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