Saturday, June 5, 2010

Houston traffic...

Much has been made about Houston traffic coming into conflict with the Light Rail that runs for several miles up and down Main Street between downtown and Relient Stadium (and through areas like the Texas Medical Center, Museum District, and Midtown Houston). They even did a feature on it here at In 2004 alone there were 63 collisions with the LRT, which means more than one per week, a collision rate that is more than 25 times the national average for public transit trains that operate in street right of ways. I'll quote from LRN:
While several other cities, such as San Jose, Portland, Boston, New Orleans, Denver, and Salt Lake City, all have street-running light rail and streetcar systems, drivers in those cities for the most part seem to be able to avoid crashing into their trains. Unfortunately, that's not the case in Houston. The propensity of local drivers to smack into the new train system has even become national news.

The collision rate between cars and cars in Houston also goes without being quite high. In 2002 Houston had 12.45 traffic fatalities per 100,000 people, far higher than say, New York City (4.39). These are BAD statistics.

According to the INRIX National Traffic Scorecard Houston traffic is also quite epic, and it is the thing that many people especially know Houston for, a shame. Houston ranks #6, and by comparison, OKC ranks #40 and Dallas ranks #5 (after LA, NYC, Chicago, DC). I am personally promoting Houston to #5 because in my opinion Dallas has the best traffic out of any big city due to its overblown freeway system.

Houston traffic was also spotlighted by Budweiser's Real Men of Genius:

On a side note, for anyone interested in checking out Houston's cosmopolitan and international flavor, check out this really awesome photo set on SSC. Just to balance out the negative coverage of a city I love.

So the point is, yes, there have been collisions with LRT in Houston. I've heard a lot made out of that fact. But..look at the surrounding context of HOUSTON TRAFFIC. Again, to quote from LRN:
Furthermore, the Texas Transportation institute (TTI), which was recently hired by METRO to assess safety along the METRORail corridor, found no fundamental design flaws in the rail system itself that would contribute to the high rate of car-train collisions. However, these facts are generally ignored by local rail critics. METRO built the train down Main Street, they argue, so therefore METRO, not the city's careless drivers, is to blame.

Check out this awesome video from the Houston Metro "Danger Train." (nobody was fatally injured in any of these accidents luckily)

Houston, we have a problem. (But not any other city)

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