METRORail Update: When Are the New Lines Going to Start Running?

Categories: Traffic

Photo by Groovehouse
The expansion of METRORail has at times felt to be moving at a snail's pace, but progress is being made and it appears that all three of the new lines -- plus the extended "downtown" line -- will be in place by the end of 2014, including one much sooner.

A few weeks ago, our photographer Groovehouse took some shots of the light rail downtown at night. As is evident through his photos and through the downtown road construction, there is still a lot to be done, particularly downtown, but the same cannot be said for the North Line.

According to the METRORail Web site, the North Line, which extends the existing Red Line from UH Downtown north to Northline Mall, will be open by December of this year. The remaining work to landscaping and stops along the line is almost complete. Take a drive down Fulton and you will see the substantial progress.

The East End Line, which runs through downtown past Minute Maid Park and the George R. Brown Convention Center down Harrisburg is the next furthest along with 100 percent of road work done and 41 percent of the finishing touches to the stations and landscaping. That line actually splits into the Southeast Line just past downtown, which then runs out to the University of Houston.

The Southeast Line is the next most completed portion, but it still has some roadwork and guideway work ahead before getting to the finishing touches. The remaining portion is what METRO is referring to as the "Downtown Line," but is, in reality, just a small stretch from Main Street west to the Theater District. That has the most work to go, not surprising given the heavily trafficked part of downtown it crosses.

The good news is that while no specific dates have been set for the opening of the remaining portions after the North Line, it appears Houston is just about a year away from a much more comprehensive rail system in and around downtown. If they could just figure out how to get the University and Uptown Lines built, we could finally argue that we have legitimately usable mass transit, at least inside the Loop.

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Dallas / Ft. Worth / Collin County / Denton County have over a hundred miles of interconnecting light rail:

Houston has 8 and will have 24 by 2015.   

Why the underachievement here?   Curiously enough, Metro announced the following recently:

"METRO has already received $523.7 million of the Full Funding Grant Agreements. The transit agency expects to begin receiving this latest $189 million appropriation within the next 30 days..."

How is it, then, that Mayor Parker recently blamed the lack of significant federal funds for her Metro appointees' lethargic (at best) performance at expanding Houston's mere 7 miles of light rail? Here's a recent defensive complaint from Annise:

12:42 Comment From Ric Rob: Dallas / Fort Worth / Denton / Collin Counties have over a hundred miles of light rail…Why does Houston have merely 8?

12:44 Mayor Annise Parker: 
We're the only city that has built rail in the last few years that has been barred from significant federal funding.

12:44 Mayor Annise Parker: 
However, there are three lines under construction, the first of those wll be up and operating by the end of this year. The other two will be completed early next year.

Has Mayor Parker (and / or her group of campaign donors) been receiving kickback payments from companies that profit from keeping us dependent upon fossil fuels and vehicles? Is Annise using money allocated to Metro (where she has political appointees helping to set the tone) for spending INSTEAD on mere feel-good projects with only short term benefits (especially for her contract-bidding allies)? The vote-buying political sugar might seem to her to be better spent on her re-election bid this November, but is that ideal for Houston?   Evidently not, given how nearly half of those surveyed gave Annise an "F" on her report card recently:


@georgetaylor68 Dallas' light rail lines have so much more miles than Houston's because they were built upon existing railroad tracks, and are thus not very convenient to ride.  It allowed them to quickly create their light rail lines, but the trade-off is that their stations are not located in the most frequented areas.

Houston is doing it the other way around, and thus have way more ridership per track mile than Dallas does.  So they're not really ahead in a meaningful way.


@georgetaylor68 Metro's funding problems go back to Tom Delay.

"House leader Tom DeLay, who represents a Houston-area district, had twice stymied the city's rail plans by cutting off federal rail funds in the House. A DeLay spokesman has said the Republican congressman thinks buses are more cost-effective than rail."

If you are looking for skullduggery & questionable contributions, I'd go back to the discredited & convicted former Rep from Sugar Land--permanently out on appeal. 

Then there was the misleading "Metro" item on the last ballot.  In which the sales tax initially intended to go to Metro but partially diverted to other road-related projects was kept as-is.  That is, a "NO" vote would have given Metro more funding--as originally intended.  But "YES" won & Metro lost out.  

The light rail already in place has improved my commute--5 days a week.  I'm glad the expansion is coming along so well, despite those who have worked against it over the years. 

Mayor Parker will continue to get my vote. 


@georgetaylor68 Metro's budget is hit hard before it has access to any money. Shit needs to stop.


George, thanks for the links. I visited the fb hmrdev site and found the information there valuable as it relates to our growing rail system.


How was Metro's recent referendum allowed to be so poorly worded?   Perhaps corruption favoring the petroleum sector from which Annise's career arose?   Meanwhile, why does it reportedly cost over a hundred million dollars per mile of rail expansion under Annise's rule?   While her cronies benefit from that astonishing fact, can anyone blame folks like Congressman Culberson for wanting to starve the beast until Metro finally becomes more cost-effective?   Dallas / Tarrant / Denton / Collin Counties have over a hundred miles of rail:

Houston has 8:

and won't even have 25 before 2015.   For the latest "news behind the news" on that subject, one can visit (and Like):

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