Friday, May 6, 2011

Metro's Long Range Plan: Public Workshops

On Tuesday this week Metro unveiled it's commitment to long-term dialogue with members of the community and city.  Metro announced that they would be hosting a series of Public Workshops focused on discussing the future of transit in the region.  The workshops will cover a broad area of transit from future bus lines, light rail transit and ways to improve what is already running today.

The meeting was full of amazing information and slides on the projected population and employment growth the county is expecting in the next 30 years.  By the year 2040 the region is looking at having close to 10 million resident according to numbers presented at the meeting. 

One neat tool that Metro is introducing is an interactive way to suggest new routes.  The site will feature a map that will allow users to literally draw their own routes with suggestions as to how it should run, how many stops it would have and whether it would be a bus, light rail or commuter rail line.

An interesting fact that stood out to me was how little Houstonians carpool.  On average, our cars carry 1.12-1.14 people per car.  That's pretty low.   A light rail train can carry 200 passengers per-trip, greatly reducing the traffic and carbon emissions in our fair city.

A schedule of the Public Workshop meeting times and places will be available in a new section entitled "Public Workshops"

While the interactive map has not launched yet, keep looking out for it at

Press Release Here 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Talk about good driving!

The last time I got a ticket was for speeding a couple years ago(no kidding I was racing home to finish reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for a project).  Most of us have a minor infraction every so often, speeding, not signaling etc.  However, if you think going a couple years without an infraction is an accomplishment, try going 30.
Recently, that's just what Mr. Isaac Spencer Jr. has done.  Spencer, a bus driver for Metro and recreational motorcyclist, has gone 30 consecutive years with no safety infractions or preventable accidents.  In recounting how he has maintained such a record he gives the credit to patience, keeping your eyes moving and using the mirrors.
I can't imagine having to deal with the traffic in Houston every day behind the wheel of a bus.  Those things are huge, make wide turns and I'm sure have more blind spots than the F-550 that passed me this morning.  This level of commitment, skill, and attention to safety is something we can all be proud of.

News Release Here

Happy Monday...y'all!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Where the Rail Cars Come From

Found an interesting article in the Chronicle on where Metro plans on getting all of it's rail cars for the Light Rail system.  Total, Metro is looking to acquire 103 cars for all of its lines.  There's a good break down of how many cars per line Metro is looking at using.  The Southeast Line is looking to need 15 cars which puts it at the second most used line, behind the University and Main Street Lines.  Check it out and be ready for some math.

Chronicle Story HERE

Happy Wednesday and Happy Texas Independence day!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Rail Cars from Utah

Metro has announced that it has made a deal with the Utah Transit Authority to purchase 19 rail cars for the Main Street Line.  Come late in 2012 the first rail car should be delivered.  The rail cars will help deal with the capacity levels Metro experiences during rush hour on the main line and help with large events such as the rodeo, sporting events and other downtown events.   

After the situation with CAF and the Spanish rail cars this comes as welcome news.  According to the Chronicle, Metro will be able to use "$64 million in federal stimulus funds to offset most of the $83 million cost of the cars".  When you add in the 14 million that Metro received in their settlement with CAF that puts the cost of the rail cars at $5 million.  Not bad for 19 rail cars. 

Official release HERE story HERE

Happy Monday, y'all.

Friday, February 18, 2011

February Southeast Community Advisory Board Meeting

The Southeast Community Advisory Board met last night at the Palm Center for our February session.  Present were representatives from Metro's South East office, the Greater South East Management District, HRT Construction, City Council, KIPP and Community Organizations.  

Action Items
The meeting started with introductions and a follow up on action items from last month.  The first action item to be resolved was regarding a situation on MLK.  The turns at Madlyn, Ventura and Marietta were being blocked by construction signs and there was some confusion where to turn relative to the construction barrels.  HRT got on this in 2 days after the last CAB meeting.  Additional street signs have been posted and street identification is easier

Carry over items that are still ongoing are the egress for MacGregor Place, a possible bus shelter at Griggs & Milart, a station on MLK and enhancements for the MLK area.  For some of these items funding options are being explored and others are still being researched and are in the preliminary phases.

Construction Updates
Mr. Chris Jensen and Mr. "It's not unusual" Tom Jones presented the construction updates for last month and the news was exciting.  The presentation also came with some entertaining music to rev up the atmosphere.
Section 2A
  • Public Utility work is done in the area.
  • Metro has submitted paperwork to expedite the road work construction for this area. 
  • If approved, alignment and pavement work could start in about a month on this section.
This news is particularly exciting in that it will involve some very visible construction and progress on the UH campus.  With this we will be seeing traffic and it will be important for students and commuters to avoid this traffic as much as possible.

Section 4A
  • Public Utility work has restarted
  • Colombia Trap to Rail will be relocated in the future due to the construction along this area
 Section 3A
  • Water and storm sanitary work is being done currently
  • The hole under 45 along Scott is almost done.  
  • The machinery doing this gets about 40 feet a day on a good day.
  • The length of the hole is around 400 feet.
Section 3B
  • Center Point is working on the gas lines in this area.
  • Later this week a traffic switch plan will be implemented.  This involves switching the existing traffic from one lane to another. 
  • Lime Slurry was put down to complete the pavement and road work that was started last month
Section 1B
  • Continued communication and daily coordination with KIPP on the construction and road work to ensure student and pedestrian safety.
  • Road work in the area has been approved and will be started soon.

Video Presentation

After the construction updates I was asked to present the new S.A.F.E. video.  It was given a warm reception and plans were made to distribute the video through other outlets(websites, twitter etc.).  Big thanks to Donna Lane, Ri Nguyen and HRT for helping me make this first video.  To see it, click on the video tab at the top of the page.

For further questions/comments please click on the contact tab at the top and I'd be happy to respond.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

50 Million for Light Rail

Great News!

President Obama's budget for next year includes an increase in funds for the Light Rail.

Signaling its support for Houston’s light-rail projects, President Obama’s FY2012 proposed budget includes $200 million in New Starts funds for construction of METRO’s North and Southeast lines...
The budget includes a $50 million boost compared to the past two fiscal budgets - $150 million proposed in FY2011 and another $150 million included in FY2010.

“We see this as a vote of confidence,” said METRO President & CEO George Greanias. “We think the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and others are seeing the progress we are making at METRO and that Houston’s work merits priority treatment.”

Couldn't agree more. 
Given the state of the economy it is good to see that issues as important as light rail and public transit are being supported from the highest office in the nation.  Soon enough, we'll be taking the South East Rail to class.

Official news release HERE.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Welcome to the South East Light Rail blog, run by the University of Houston.  This blog is focused on providing the UH community with updates, information and safety videos on the South East Light Rail.  In addition we will make sure to post links to relevant news releases and Metro sites.  Information from the monthly South East Community Advisory Board Meetings will be shared here as well.  Our goal is to provide the most up to date information for members of the UH community from the perspective of the UH community.

Navigation on this page is fairly simple.  If you want to see the SAFE video's click on the video tab at the top.  Links, a map of the South East Line and links to some of Metro's sites are available as well.  If you have any questions click on the contact page and let us know.  Older posts are available by clicking the Older Posts link at the bottom right of the screen.  Feel free to comment and start a dialogue on any of the posts, videos or about anything relating to the South East Light Rail.  Thanks and Go Coogs!