Texas Liberal

All People Matter

The Houston Area Needs More Buses And Should Move On From Notions Of More Super Expensive Demolition Derby Light Rail Trains

metro mar 15 5.jpg

There has been yet another accident involving the Metro light rail train here in Houston.

(Above—A Houston Press picture of the accident.)

A Metro bus smashed into the train this afternoon and 19 people were hurt. It seems that none of the injuries are serious.

The light rail train is on a track and all it does is go back and forth from the Univ. of Houston-Downtown out to the Astrodome area.

We only have one-light rail route for all of the Houston area. That is all we have for all the years this matter has been discussed.

You have to make an effort to hit the train. It is just on a track and it goes back and forth. The train can’t come out and attack you while you are driving. You’ve got to make an improper turn or run a red light to hit the train.

Yet there have been many accidents involving the train since it began operation in 2004.

Our city does not have enough money to build enough trains to make for effective mass-transit.

Maybe folks are striking back at the train for being such a waste of money.

What we should have in Houston, Harris County, and in our area as a whole is a regional transit authority. We should be making sure that we have enough buses for all people in our region who need a ride.

Here is a post I wrote in favor of a regional transit authority for the Houston area.

This is not Portland, Oregon or some type of some type of imagined utopia for the 5% of the public in Houston that even thinks about how wonderful light rail would be.

This is the Houston area where people often have a hard time getting from Point A to Point B. We need reasonable transportation plans and not this hugely expensive demolition derby we have with these trains.

Go stand out along the very busy Highway 6 between 290 and I-10 and wait for a bus to arrive and pick you up.

It will never happen no matter how long you wait.

Work in this well-populated area and don’t have a car?

You are out of luck.

These trains in Houston are a process driven by a narrow elite that has little to do with the daily lives of people in our region. It is also a process driven by self-interested Metro executives.

Let’s have buses for the masses and not boondoggle trains that enable a small group of people to pretend they live someplace other than Houston, Texas.

(Below—A demolition derby held at the West End Fair in Gilbert, Pennsylvania in 2007.)

March 16, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,


  1. On this we disagree. Until Houston gets a mass transit system up and running on par with Chicago or NYC, it’ll never be a destination for anything other than the wealthy business people and street people who are attracted to the mild climate. In Chicago or NYC, I can fly into an airport and never need a car. Trains can carry more people much quicker than buses can. There are buses AND trains to get me anywhere I need to go, in a relatively timely manner. In Houston, it takes 45 minutes just to get from downtown to the Galleria area. In that time, you could get from downtown Chicago to the O’Hare airport—a greater distance—via a train. Furthermore, you can get all up and down the east coast and around much of northern Illinois without needing a car. Trains will take you rather far in quite a bit of comfort. Here, I can’t even get to Katy without a car. You may notice that Fodor’s, Frommer’s, and Lonely Planet do not make travel guides for Houston, despite our city being a center of fine arts, science, and mild weather. Despite being the 4th largest city in the U.S., no major travel guide exists. I believe that if we had trains and overall better transportation, people would discover the many cool and interesting things about Houston. But as you can’t even get from the Galleria to the Museum district without making a transfer, getting around Houston is simply too much trouble to get around for the average visitor. And so visitors leave Houston thinking it’s boring, that all there is to do here is shop at the same chain stores they can shop at in most cities. The one concession I’ll make is that I’m not sure light rail is thew way to go. Running these tracks on the ground is problematic, to say the least. I don’t know if Houston’s marshy lands make an elevated or subway impossible, but it seems to me that we’re trying too hard to reinvent the wheel. Plenty of cities, smaller cities, have better transportation systems than we do. I feel like we’re not looking at other models and trying too hard to go our own way. But the point remains. Until we get over our fear of fast, mass transit, we’re never going to get the type of attention or tourist dollars that Chicago or NYC gets. And our own citizenry will be condemned to rush hour gridlock with no options but to drive or to spend an hour on a bus to go 10 miles or less.

    Comment by Neil Ellis Orts | March 16, 2010

  2. Neil–Excellent to have you here.

    I don’t feel that this area will ever commit the resources needed to do mass transit right. If you can’t get from the Galleria to the museum district without a transfer, then establish the route. But the first need has be people who live here who need to get to work and to get around. Millions of people do live in this area and they go beyond the wealthy and street people.

    Or–Go back to the voters and ask for enough money have a complete system of mass transit. Do so on a regional basis. New York and Chicago started on this many years ago. Without the resources or the political will, we won’t do it right and we won’t meet the needs of working people in our city and region.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | March 16, 2010

  3. You´re right, but you sound like all those conservative Houston activists.

    Comment by EV | March 17, 2010

  4. Sounds like Houston could learn from Dallas. Both cities are large & spread out & pose a lot of problems for traditional forms of mass transportation. Though not perfect, the DART light rail has vastly improved over the past fee years adding more lines & routes. Additionally, DART & Fort Worth have teamed up so that you can purchase a pass that will allow you to travel with Dallas & Fort Worth and all points in between (except for Arlington).

    Personally, I hope Dallas continues to expand rail service & scale back on buses. The buses in our city are poorly operated and only get in the way.

    Comment by Josh Ellis | March 17, 2010

  5. Ev–I know I do in this case. Such things happen in life. maybe it means those folks are moving to the left!

    Josh—Thanks for the report from Dallas and thank you for the comment.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | March 17, 2010

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