Wednesday, May 5, 2010

See Ray, that's the whole problem....

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in town today speaking to the Intelligent Transportation Society of America at their annual meeting (for a kick, go read the strategic plan for the ITSA. It's more about building their group than it is intelligent transportation.) where he had the following to say to you backwater Houstonians who like to text, talk on the phone, apply make-up, shave, eat dinner, or do whatever else while driving your car:

(quoted from: LaHood: We are committed to Houston Rail, Mike Snyder, ChronBlog 05/05/2010)
"If you're hooked on your phone or you're hooked on your Blackberry and you need to use it 24 hours a day," he said, "get on a bus, get on a train, get on mass transit."

Uh...yeah. Obviously LaHood thought that he was in New York, or Dallas, or some City with a transportation system that goes somewhere, or that's designed with utility in mind instead of in the vain hopes that New York will notice it's world classiness and that the next company to consider jumping ship will take one look at the DangerTrain and fall back in love with us all over again.....

Nope, not in Houston. In Houston we have seven miles of track that goes from the hospital to downtown....and then back again. Not to any residential areas and not to some area where people might live and want to ride the train. The kicker to all of this is that the future plans don't have any of that either. To top all of that off we've allowed out bus system to be gutted to the point that it's basically a feeder system for short trips on the train to get you to the next bus. If you notice, the train is full for about 1/4 of it's 7 mile run, where people get off of their bus and are forced to hop the train to their next bus, then it runs nearly empty* on the edges.

All of this is what happens when the process of theory and design are disconnected from the harshness of reality. When you design the rail in a downtown building, never travelling through the Third Ward and seeing the people lined up at the bus-stop, then deciding that a line running down Richmond makes sense. It also allows you the freedom from the hypocrisy that spawns from criticizing road-building to spur development as futile, while suggesting that rail-building to spur development is the wave of the future.

Good luck with that commitment Ray, and here's hoping you continue to be driven around Houston in a limousine when you visit as well.....

Oh honestly thought Mr. LaHood rode public transportation?

*By "empty" we obviously are not counting the occasional unpaid homeless person who's taking advantage of the cool interior on a hot Summer day. I will say this about the DangerTrain, you will stay cool right before you smash into that oncoming car or bus.

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