Compared to the largest metropolitan areas in the country, Houston doesn’t fare well in terms of public transit coverage. According to a new report from the Brookings Institution, only 57.8 percent of the jobs in the entire Houston metro area are in neighborhoods with access to public transit service.The first howl you're going to hear will come from "transit advocates" who will demand that this study only increases the obvious need for ending the Metro sales tax carve-out and dumping incredibly large amounts of money into light rail.
When ranked against the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the nation, Houston was No. 82 in terms of the share of jobs that were in reach of public transit service.
Of course, they're wrong. Because Light Rail, even at it's peak build out, is never going to address the largest problem: getting people from their houses to the system. While MetroRail might, eventually, touch the Galleria, Greenway Plaza and other job centers it's currently doing so at the expense of bus service which is going to be vital to getting people where they need to go.
In short, Houston has 1/2 a plan, the other 1/2 (right now) is being forwarded by David Crossley and his acolytes at Houston Tomorrow whose long-term solution to the problem is for those living in the suburbs to leave their unsustainable lawns and single-occupancy houses and move inside the Loop into condos and other multi-unit dwellings, provided those multi-unit dwellings aren't located to close to their single-family dwellings which are, for some reason, much more sustainable than their outside-the-Loop twins.
The "unsustainable" argument is a lie anyway. With cleaner cars, improved bus service, better sidewalks and bike/walking paths, the "walkable neighborhood" is just as much a reality (and as eco-friendly) as a LEED certified high-rise in downtown Houston. In other words, contrary to Houston Tomorrow's ramblings, there are several ways to "go green".
Metro trying to end the carve-out of their sales tax allotment (which goes to 15 cities in their service area, 14 of which are getting the shaft, service wise) is to be expected. Metro has long been ran by new-urbanists whose mission statement has been to build up the city core of Houston while strangling the outer reaches. A friend of mine once suggested that, if there's nothing you can do to stop a bad idea, just don't worry about it, and that's kind of my take here. I'm no longer concerned about what Houston and Metro are going to do with their toy train, I'm just going to laugh as they continue to stumble around with an unworkable plan and gumption. The point of this post is not to suggest that light rail doesn't need to be built.
Houston is going to build it's toy train. Don't be concerned about that. What should concern you greatly is that they're going to have no plan (or money) to get people to it efficiently. And that is a recipe for disaster.