Houston Bucket List - 100 Things to Do in Houston Before You Die: The Death Train
The Houston Press is presenting a series of posts leading up to a feature story in the print edition of the 100 Things to Do in Houston Before You Die. Each blog post contains one of our top 10 bucket list items along with nine others in the top 100. To narrow our list, we chose only items unique to Houston -- or items to which Houston provides a unique twist -- and everything on the list must be in or occur within 30 miles of downtown Houston (so, nothing from Galveston, for example). We welcome your suggestions in the comment section.
Photo by Jeff Balke
Moving millions of people around a city big enough to fit several cities inside its boundaries isn't easy. Houston has some of the worst commute times in the country and the time we spend in our car contributes to our regular ranking as one of the fattest cities in America. Despite the clogged freeways and angry drivers, we still don't have very many options. You can't build a subway under a swamp. Buses offer as much confusion as they do transportation. And scientists have yet to invent a teleportation device to beam us from our bedrooms to our cubicles. In this fifth installment of the Houston Bucket List, we suggest a polarizing option for escaping the gridlock...even if it is just for a few miles.
From it's very beginnings, it was a controversial topic. So many failed fits and starts just to get a single, six-mile track laid between downtown and the medical center. And when light rail finally came to a city with some of the least helpful mass transit in the country, the complaints continued: the construction killed business, cars were running into it with regularity. Yet, it is still one of the most patronized sections of light rail in the country and after even more gnashing of teeth, it is expanding north, east and south into underserved areas that will no doubt use it like crazy.
It's fascinating that a city the size of Houston has shunned usable mass transit for so long. We all love our cars, but does anyone actually love the traffic? At every turn we shoot down referendums, sue the city and demand that our U.S. representatives pull funding from this boondoggle. Still, people keep on riding and more will follow suit when the new lines open next year. Look, if Dallas can build and maintain a light rail system, Houston sure as hell can.