Commuter Rail From Galveston And Hempstead By 2012!! Well, Maybe

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The Citizens Transportation Coalition is currently giddy with dreams of 90 MPH commuter trains speeding from Galveston and down 290 into the city...possibly by 2012, which sounds like the far future but is only three years away.

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 Wilson, Gulf Coast Freight Rail District (GCFRD) Chairman Mark Ellis, Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation (THSRTC) chairman (and former Harris County Judge) Robert Eckels, and Union Pacific's Joe Adams. Introducing them was former Harris County Judge and State Senator Jon Lindsey, father of the Harris County Toll Road Authority. If there was ever a visual demonstration of the political will that's aligning behind commuter rail, this was it.
Oh, someone's going to get money to study the idea? Where can we buy our tickets for the grand 2012 opening? We'd love the idea of rail into the city -- we still mourn those tracks torn up to make room for yet more Katy Freeway lanes -- but even the CTC admits there are a whole lot of questions to be answered.

One of the key ones is how Metro plays a role. They're not likely to give up any rail power without a fight, which probably means at the least that new rail lines would have to hook up with the most outlying Metro light-rail station near the line.

But "near the line" may be a problem.
 
The third question is far from resolved. Each of the speakers emphasized the need to connect commuter rail to METRO's system to get riders to their final destination. But neither of the lines described in the studies actually connects to light rail. One could rely on shuttle buses to connect out-of-the-way commuter rail stations to employment centers, but that's a recipe for low ridership. Alternately, the Uptown and East End light rail lines could be extended two miles to meet commuter rail; that adds cost and still results in a fairly long ride to Downtown. Ideally, the commuter rail would get close to the major employment centers, but that will take major construction since the freight rail lines inside the loop are congested.
The words "that will take major construction" are right up there with doing a study when it comes to dampening our hopes of a 2012 launch.

So yeah, give us the over on 2012.


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13 comments
GotNoName
GotNoName

back in the 20s-30s it was a great idea rail line already existed but died due to funding.  Its needed now more then ever but only the private sector or a bond vote can make this happen but who will vote for junk bonds or higher taxes? So, with that, this dream is just that. A dream that my come into fruition by 2025 as the population doubles in size of the metro area

Metrolink888
Metrolink888

 It's already 2011, yet no update. When is this really suppossed to happen?

steve
steve

Anyone who drives around houston knows it's desperately in need of viable rail. Roads are dangerous and congested. Rail networks can be built. Go to europe or japan and see for yourself what the possibilities are. The car and oil companies must be working overtime to see it doesn't get built. If it's done right and complements the existing transportation system, it can do wonders for houston. Light rail should be discarded altogether.

Extra
Extra

Its a dead case if not extended all the way into downtown and have to be connected with with a line going all the way to Galveston (Next phase). Then it will efficiently serve a lot of people and destinations. And of course the uptown line will be extended 2 miles north. Saving the money by not invest in a line all the way to downtown will be almost meaningless and not at all attractive fro commuters. It kind of disclose the missing understanding of commuting needs not to propose this. Or is it just polotical tactics to get it all started.

getting back your ex
getting back your ex

Well the Chinese Incans Mayans and Nostradomus all came up with the exact same date and never existed anywhere near each other in time or location so either they were all mislead or there is some truth to it. only time will tell but it does seem kinda strange all of the obscene weather we've been having worldwide. an excess of hurricanes and tornados coupled with strange events not seen for centuries such as thunder snow and kenya getting pounded with snow and hail and psunamis etc. maybe it's a sign of things to come or things to go. even if it's not true it is still very interesting and really makes ya think.

get your ex back
get your ex back

Gold will go up. Bottled water, Dry goods, wepaons, will be big sellers. I will personally kill anyone who steps foot on my property after Jan.1st 2012. They will all be after my foodstocks and weapons. All the rif raf will be after me and my stuff.

Jon Davis
Jon Davis

My wife and I live in Chicago. In 2004, we rode a bus from Bush Intl. Airport to Galveston's cruise ship terminal. I was stunned by what an awful wound the interstate and its attendant schlock development has carved across your region. From city to city, nothing but mind-numbing mega-malls, churches and car dealerships feeding the addiction to driving.

Had there been rail service, we would have used it in a heartbeat. And you guys used to have such service: the Galveston-Houston Electric Railway. Amazing what we threw away and now desire again.

jim sherman
jim sherman

MidtownCoog is either out of his goddamn mind or works in PR for Metro. This is the best? Sorry, I've been depending on buses around Houston for damn near a quarter-century and this is one sorry-ass public transit system which I am convinced is sponsored by the Houston Auto Dealers Association to convince everyone that no matter how green or broke you are that you need to buy a car. An info line that only operates 8-5 Monday thru Friday, bus schedules you have to go to a metro office to get (god forbid they should have them on the bus), seriously long waits for a transfer if you worked past 5 am or want to ride the bus on the weekend, no restrooms (except for drivers) at the transit centers (this can lead to some interesting moments if you've already spent an hour waiting for/ riding your first bus and still have a half-hour to get home.) When I was covering City Hall for the late, great Public News I could get from the Heights transfer station to the pendejo factory on Bagby faster on roller skates than I could on public transportation. Metro is a goddamn joke, and I will continue to say so until they hire me as a consultant. A low six figures would suffice, I'm not greedy.

Randy
Randy

After 100 years of the automobile's dominance, I find it interesting that the train is making a comeback in a big way!

"Back to the Future" as I like to call it.

A new website called HoustonLightRail.net shows locations around all the MetroRail stations. Austin was also recently uploaded and Dallas is on the way.

LightRailNetwork.com identifies over 2,000 locations around stations in eight cities so far...

kathryn eastburn
kathryn eastburn

Isn't it obvious to everyone who lives in the Galveston/Houston area that the current system of commuting is unsustainable? How many lanes do you have to add to I-45, and how many single vehicle pollutants have to be spewed into the already polluted air to prove that we have reached saturation point?

Houstonians continue to come to Galveston when they can, despite the horrors of traffic, because water, sky, and sand beckon them there. But how many Galvestonians and near inlanders avoid Houston at all costs because driving in is hell?

These communities must learn to co-exist in a way that serves everyone's needs without adding to the environmental devastation of the area. Rail service seems an obviou place to begin.

Kathryn EastburnGalveston, TX

Anse
Anse

I took the bus from the Heights to the Sharpstown area for about a week once when my car was in the shop. I had to leave my house by 5 in the morning to get to my job by 6:30, with a layover in downtown on the way. Bus service is great if you are in a straight shot commuter line, but getting around town is a pain the neck.

It is beyond insane that the fourth largest city in America has next to nothing in terms of rail service. We can do it, and we should do it.

MidtownCoog
MidtownCoog

We have one of the best HOV systems in the world.

Buses run every ten minutes during peak hours and bring thousands of people into and out of downtown everyday.

In other words, don't waste the money where a public transportation option already exists.

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