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Re: [carfree_cities] Fwd: [UrbanMaglev] "A Streetcar Named Disaster" HoustonReview 2/4 (at-grade LRT vs. ..)

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  • Christopher Miller
    Hi, ... Actually, I m Canadian and just happen to be living in Washington DC now. I was rather stung by your reaction to my post. I took the trouble to
    Message 1 of 11 , Mar 8, 2004
      Hi,

      On 8-Mar-04, at 11:05 PM, Peter Cook wrote:

      > At 02:26 PM 9/03/2004, Chris Miller wrote:
      >> An interesting article about problems met with Houston's try at
      >> introducing light rail while keeping automobile traffic in the same
      >> right of way. I wonder if there have been any difficulties like this
      >> elsewhere?
      >
      > That is a rather odd question - of course the answer is yes.. Why do
      > Americans always think that their attempt at something is the first
      > time it
      > has ever been tried in the world?

      Actually, I'm Canadian and just happen to be living in Washington DC
      now. I was rather stung by your reaction to my post. I took the trouble
      to cross-post it to the Carfree Cities list because it is of obvious
      interest; getting this kind of a reaction (in this case the unmerited
      and inaccurate stereotyping of Americans) can be enough to discourage a
      person from participating any further in a discussion group like this.

      I posed the question out of curiosity, not knowing how much of a
      problem auto-tramway collisions are elsewhere. When I was in Prague,
      for example, it seemed to me that this was no problem. Nor, as far as I
      know, in Amsterdam. My impressions are certainly superficial given my
      very short stays in either place, and I was wondering how well at-grade
      trams coexist with other street traffic (whether pedestrian,
      human-powered, or automobile) in various places around the world. The
      problem will always come up as long as there is coexistence between
      public transit and some sort of individual locomotion on the same right
      of way. It doesn't matter whether the individual locomotion is by foot,
      bike, rollerblade, wheelchair or automobile; you still have to worry
      about the problem of collisions. (It's worth remembering that Antoni
      Gaudi, the famous Catalan architect, died when he was hit by a
      Barcelona streetcar while leaving the worksite of the Sagrada Familia.)

      > Here in Melbourne, there are an average of three crashes a day between
      > Trams (Streetcars) and Motorists getting in their way. Our network
      > involves about 200km (125mi) of electrified on street running, of which
      > about 800 yards (Bourke Street Mall) is isolated from motor traffic,
      > the
      > rest of the on street running is mixed with traffic or is in painted
      > median
      > fairways. There are about 500 trams in the fleet.
      >
      >> This seems to be a good argument for grade separation, and
      >> it will become especially important to take this into account when the
      >> time eventually comes (I assume) that more public transportation
      >> starts
      >> to be phased in while many people are still driving around.
      >
      > Nope.. It's a good argument for slapping some perspective into
      > people.. Tram drivers are professionals, trams always have right of
      > way
      > over motorists, and motorists need to learn to appreciate that either
      > through education or through experience when they have to collect their
      > cars from crash repair shops after a few days without it.

      Much as I would agree with your point of view about peoples'
      perspective, this kind of gives up on the imperative to design the
      transit system in a way that minimises problems like this. When you
      design something, you always have to take into account the fact that
      many people are going to act irrationally: pointing out that they are
      irrational after the fact isn't going to make your problems go away.
      (Think of subway suicides, which regularly hold up the Montreal Metro:
      why not do like Paris does in newer stations, i.e. install glass walls
      with automated sliding doors on the edge of the platform?) What you
      need to do is to anticipate difficulties, on the basis of other
      people's experience (Houston in this case) and try and design a better
      alternative that avoids interruptions because of occasional irrational
      behaviour (due to absent-mindedness, tiredness, mental distress,
      whatever) by some people.

      > Also, if all those people on the Trams had been driving or on a bus
      > instead
      > and the trams were not there, how many additional car-car or car-bus
      > crashes would have happened?

      Interesting question: I *suspect* that there might be fewer simply
      based on my experience as an urban cyclist. It is astounding how many
      drivers seem not to twig on to the fact that something that is not a
      gas-powered vehicle is also part of traffic and needs to be taken into
      account. My *feeling* is that some drivers would likely identify buses,
      unlike trams and such, as "real" street traffic to be taken into
      account. Perhaps part of the problem with the Houston Metrorail is that
      it is on a marked-off corridor distinct from the street. Since drivers
      are basically worried about the street, i.e. the paved areas where they
      can navigate, perhaps there is something about the design of the
      Houston system that somehow encourages drivers to ignore it as a
      transportation corridor, since they don't perceive it as part of the
      street as such. As I have already said, this is a major issue to take
      into account when cities inevitably start phasing in more and more (non
      petrochemical based) public transit lines in the coming decades.

      Chris Miller
      A Canadian in Washington DC, USA
    • J.H. Crawford
      Hi All, Regarding the Houston issue, notice that nearly all the crashes involve cars turning left. The only way to tackle this problem is to forbid all left
      Message 2 of 11 , Mar 9, 2004
        Hi All,

        Regarding the Houston issue, notice that nearly all the
        crashes involve cars turning left. The only way to tackle
        this problem is to forbid all left turns across the
        tracks, which, I believe, run in a center reservation.
        Drivers are literally getting blind-sided, and the
        signalling is always a bit confusing in the case of
        left-turn-on-arrow-only. Colorblind drivers may be
        seeing a red arrow and thinking it's green. (I know
        there aren't supposed to BE colorblind drivers, but
        I'll bet there are plenty in America, where it's drive
        or die.)

        Drivers would get used to the idea that you can NEVER
        turn left across the tram tracks. Instead, they will
        have to go around the block and approach straight on,
        when they will be able to cope with the standard traffic
        signal, which should see them safely across the tracsk.
        Their sight lines are good and mirrors aren't needed.

        If this doesn't work, then they will have to physically
        block all crossing traffic and provide some over- or
        underpasses to get cars across the tracks.

        Remember that in Zurich, the decision was made to get
        cars off the streets where they were interfering with
        the trams. Gotta get your priorities straight. This is
        going to be difficult in Houston.

        Regards,



        -- ### --

        J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
        mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
      • Karen Sandness
        A couple of points worth noting: 1. A conservative student monthly serving the Houston area mocking public transportation? I knew that this was an article
        Message 3 of 11 , Mar 9, 2004
          A couple of points worth noting:

          1. A "conservative student monthly serving the Houston area" mocking
          public transportation? I knew that this was an article written by some
          rightwing outfit before I got to the bottom of the article, because I
          already recognize the snide, triumphant tone. If it's like comparable
          articles written by anti-transit types in Portland and Minneapolis, I
          would be cautious about accepting its claims at face value. The
          anti-transit crowd in both cities routinely lies, exaggerates, and
          leaves out inconvenient facts.

          For example, a local "taxpayers'" group commented on the Twin Cities
          transit strike and claimed that since the traffic was no more jammed
          than usual, transit was an unnecessary drain on the "taxpayers'"
          pockets. This claim appeared on the front page of the Minneapolis
          Star-Tribune on Sunday. Fortunately, the following day, the paper
          carried a story about non-drivers who were being forced to spend $10 a
          day on taxis or walk several miles or beg rides or simply stay home and
          miss out on jobs, medical appointments, and other necessities of life.
          The article concluded that the non-drivers could cope for a few days,
          but that an extended strike would cause real pain.

          2. This is reminiscent of the Portland anti-transit crowd crowing about
          "killer trolleys" after five pedestrians were killed on the westside
          MAX line shortly after it opened. The problem was not that the MAX was
          especially lethal to pedestrians but that people couldn't get it
          through their heads that one has to look both ways before crossing a
          train track. In one case, a drunk had passed out on the tracks. There
          were always fender benders between the MAX and cars, and I witnessed
          some of them. In every case that I saw, they were the fault of the
          motorist.

          3. The claim that light rail reduces traffic congestion has come back
          to bite transit advocates. It clearly doesn't do that, as a visit to
          Tokyo will prove. What it does do is allow people to *opt out* of
          congestion. Publicity for light rail lines should stress this notion.

          4. Is ridership really that low? Why has light rail been so successful
          in Dallas? Are the Houston lines in the wrong places, is the system
          poorly managed, has any PR been done? Is this a case of
          passive-aggressively mismanaging something to prove that "it doesn't
          work"?

          Just some things to think about.

          In transit,
          Karen Sand ness
        • Greg Steele
          Thank you Karen for pointing out that the author of the story was A conservative student monthly serving the Houston area. I think that may have something
          Message 4 of 11 , Mar 9, 2004
            Thank you Karen for pointing out that the author of the story was "A
            conservative student monthly serving the Houston area." I think that
            may have something to do with Peter's reaction. I have to admit
            after reading the article I had to get up and take a short walk to
            cool off. The tone of the article has a "see, told ya it wouldn't
            work" feeling to it that reflects poorly on both Texans and Americans
            (from the US – sorry I know Canada, Mexico and the rest of two
            continents have the right to be called Americans, but that is another
            issue). It is the article not you as the poster is pushing some
            buttons.

            One thing with the article that really burned me up was the whining
            about $340 million. That is NOT a lot of money for a transportation
            improvement project, but when you use a figure like, without putting
            it in perspective it seems like a lot. I did a quick query of
            Pennsylvania's department of transportation's constructions projects
            database (I have access to this at work). Most projects for standard
            road repair are about between $10 and $20 million that is just for
            fixing pot-wholes, resurfacing, etc. And there are three projects
            this year over $340 million.

            I am sure there was a design option to put the light-rail on its own
            right-of-way, but that option would have been much more expensive and
            people like the one who wrote this article would have been the ones
            to shoot it down.

            As to a discussion of safety and light-rail sharing right-of-ways,
            Philadelphia has continuously operated trolleys on the street for
            about a hundred years now. A collision is a very usual event I can
            only recall one, about four years ago. Another good example is the
            streetcar in New Orleans. In parts in operates in the same right-of-
            way as cars (including going around Lee Circle) and then operates on
            the median of a high traffic roads where car traffic makes left turn
            across the rail (often without the aid of a signal). While living
            there for three years I cannot remember any collisions. In
            conclusion, I do think that it is something people need to learn how
            to co-exist with, not as both article seem to be saying - a design
            fault of the system. Neither the New Orleans or Philadelphia systems
            have good signage (some cases none) at crossing. You just grow up
            knowing that the streetcar can't stop quickly and regardless if you
            hit it or it hits you it is your fault.
          • Peter Cook
            ... My apologies. I probably got out of bed on the wrong side yesterday. ... Sounds like a bit of a cultural issue - people in European cities are more urban
            Message 5 of 11 , Mar 9, 2004
              At 04:14 PM 9/03/2004, Chris Miller wrote:
              > >> An interesting article about problems met with Houston's try at
              > >> introducing light rail while keeping automobile traffic in the same
              > >> right of way. I wonder if there have been any difficulties like this
              > >> elsewhere?
              > >
              > > That is a rather odd question - of course the answer is yes.. Why do
              > > Americans always think that their attempt at something is the first
              > > time it has ever been tried in the world?
              >
              >Actually, I'm Canadian and just happen to be living in Washington DC
              >now. I was rather stung by your reaction to my post. I took the trouble
              >to cross-post it to the Carfree Cities list because it is of obvious
              >interest; getting this kind of a reaction (in this case the unmerited
              >and inaccurate stereotyping of Americans) can be enough to discourage a
              >person from participating any further in a discussion group like this.

              My apologies. I probably got out of bed on the wrong side yesterday.

              >I posed the question out of curiosity, not knowing how much of a
              >problem auto-tramway collisions are elsewhere. When I was in Prague,
              >for example, it seemed to me that this was no problem. Nor, as far as I
              >know, in Amsterdam. My impressions are certainly superficial given my
              >very short stays in either place, and I was wondering how well at-grade
              >trams coexist with other street traffic (whether pedestrian,
              >human-powered, or automobile) in various places around the world.

              Sounds like a bit of a cultural issue - people in European cities are more
              urban focused than in North America or Australia. However, saying that,
              I'm sure there is a problem, just one that isn't given much publicity.

              >The problem will always come up as long as there is coexistence
              >between public transit and some sort of individual locomotion on the
              >same right of way.

              And there always will be coexistence of RoW in a city's transportation
              system. Cars share with cars, cars share with pedestrians, with cyclists,
              cyclists share with pedestrians, cars cycles and pedestrians share with
              trams and trains. Why foist Transit with massive capital costs when cars
              are getting a free ride and are still knocking down pedestrians and cyclists?

              >Much as I would agree with your point of view about peoples'
              >perspective, this kind of gives up on the imperative to design the
              >transit system in a way that minimises problems like this. When you
              >design something, you always have to take into account the fact that
              >many people are going to act irrationally: pointing out that they are
              >irrational after the fact isn't going to make your problems go away.
              >(Think of subway suicides, which regularly hold up the Montreal Metro:
              >why not do like Paris does in newer stations, i.e. install glass walls
              >with automated sliding doors on the edge of the platform?)

              Another option is to give a more convenient method of suicide.

              Again in Melbourne, we don't really have that much of a problem when it
              comes to train suicides. The fact that our trains and trams are fitted
              with wheel guards, which are basically a cast iron block that go in front
              of the front wheels, tends to sweep suiciders aside and leave them with a
              headache and an embarrassing story for the hospital staff.

              We do however have this little wonder called the West Gate Freeway, which
              culminates in an approach to the downtown area over a shipping channel (The
              West Gate Bridge). It opened in 1978, carries 150,000 vehicles a day, and
              has 4 lanes plus a breakdown lane in each direction. It's basically a
              bridge of death. On October 15 1970, 35 construction workers died when
              part of the structure collapsed. The fact that it's 53 metres above the
              river below and is not far from the bay means that crosswinds are often
              intense, and cars can be dragged across several lanes by the wind, though
              not always with fatal results. They drop the variable speed limit from
              80km/h (50mph) to 60 (37) or 40 (25) when the wind gets intense, but it
              doesn't always help. Oh, and to top it all off, an average of one person a
              week abandons a car, pushbike or motorbike on the bridge, or walks up, and
              commits suicide by jumping off the side. And of course, the installation
              of fencing on a bridge with high wind would add too much stress to the
              structure.

              Perhaps Futurama style Suicide Booths might be a less disruptive option
              still. Even if only 50% of those who'd otherwise suicide off a bridge or
              under a train decided to go in a purpose designed environment, there'd be
              less need to send police wandering through West Gate Park every week
              fishing out missing body parts here, and fewer subway disruptions in cities
              like Montreal.

              >Interesting question: I *suspect* that there might be fewer simply
              >based on my experience as an urban cyclist. It is astounding how many
              >drivers seem not to twig on to the fact that something that is not a
              >gas-powered vehicle is also part of traffic and needs to be taken into
              >account. My *feeling* is that some drivers would likely identify buses

              Here in oz, bus drivers are allowed to force their way out of bus stops and
              into traffic - not that cars give way like the signs on the back of the bus
              and the question in their drivers license exam says they must do. There
              are occasionally crashes, but not always with the bus. Someone could
              swerve out of the way of the bus and into the side of another car for example.

              >unlike trams and such, as "real" street traffic to be taken into
              >account. Perhaps part of the problem with the Houston Metrorail is that
              >it is on a marked-off corridor distinct from the street.

              Isn't the LA Blue Line the same? Not to mention plenty of other Streetcar
              and Light Rail systems across North America. Things will settle down in
              Houston eventually..

              Also, keep in mind that those who do get injured or killed are only self
              destructing, as their biology tells them to do, lest they reproduce and
              pass on the moron gene. In the past, people like this would have been
              wiped out at an earlier age and humanity was able to evolve as a
              result. Now they are being protected and humanity is going backwards.

              (Yes, I'm a fan of www.darwinawards.com )

              >As I have already said, this is a major issue to take
              >into account when cities inevitably start phasing in more and more (non
              >petrochemical based) public transit lines in the coming decades.

              We may have to agree to disagree there..


              PC
              Melbourne, Australia
            • mauk_mcamuk
              ... back ... to ... notion. ... This is an amazingly good point. Light rail provides a second, complimentary pathway. After enough time has passed, maybe we
              Message 6 of 11 , Mar 9, 2004
                > 3. The claim that light rail reduces traffic congestion has come
                back
                > to bite transit advocates. It clearly doesn't do that, as a visit
                to
                > Tokyo will prove. What it does do is allow people to *opt out* of
                > congestion. Publicity for light rail lines should stress this
                notion.
                >


                This is an amazingly good point. Light rail provides a second,
                complimentary pathway. After enough time has passed, maybe we can
                start retiring the cars from city centers, thus creating carfree
                zones.
              • Matt Hohmeister
                This reminds me of New Orleans, where the streetcars of an era past not only cross streets, but travel in the same lanes as vehicles. In the Garden District, I
                Message 7 of 11 , Mar 9, 2004
                  This reminds me of New Orleans, where the streetcars of an era past not only cross
                  streets, but travel in the same lanes as vehicles. In the Garden District, I have seen people
                  riding bicycles and jogging on the streetcar tracks--knowing, of course, to get out of the
                  way if they see a streetcar coming. Does anyone have New Orleans accident figures?

                  Oh--I looked at the list of Houston tram accidents, and saw no pedestrain or cyclist
                  accidents. Could this be because a pedestrian or cyclist is not belted into a seat and can
                  more effectively look both ways before crossing the tracks? Just a thought.

                  --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@c...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Hi All,
                  >
                  > Regarding the Houston issue, notice that nearly all the
                  > crashes involve cars turning left. The only way to tackle
                  > this problem is to forbid all left turns across the
                  > tracks, which, I believe, run in a center reservation.
                  > Drivers are literally getting blind-sided, and the
                  > signalling is always a bit confusing in the case of
                  > left-turn-on-arrow-only. Colorblind drivers may be
                  > seeing a red arrow and thinking it's green. (I know
                  > there aren't supposed to BE colorblind drivers, but
                  > I'll bet there are plenty in America, where it's drive
                  > or die.)
                  >
                  > Drivers would get used to the idea that you can NEVER
                  > turn left across the tram tracks. Instead, they will
                  > have to go around the block and approach straight on,
                  > when they will be able to cope with the standard traffic
                  > signal, which should see them safely across the tracsk.
                  > Their sight lines are good and mirrors aren't needed.
                  >
                  > If this doesn't work, then they will have to physically
                  > block all crossing traffic and provide some over- or
                  > underpasses to get cars across the tracks.
                  >
                  > Remember that in Zurich, the decision was made to get
                  > cars off the streets where they were interfering with
                  > the trams. Gotta get your priorities straight. This is
                  > going to be difficult in Houston.
                  >
                  > Regards,
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > -- ### --
                  >
                  > J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                  > mailbox@c... http://www.carfree.com
                • Mike Harrington
                  There are three kinds of accidents on Houston Metro s new light rail line. Turning left where left turns are illegal, turning left from a center lane instead
                  Message 8 of 11 , Mar 10, 2004
                    There are three kinds of accidents on Houston Metro's new light rail
                    line. Turning left where left turns are illegal, turning left from a
                    center lane instead of using left turn lanes which share the way with
                    the light rail tracks for 50 meters at certain intersections in the
                    Texas Medical Center, and motorists running red lights. The injuries
                    have so far been minor to the drivers who are invariably ticketed for
                    moving violations, since the rail cars are moving at 20 to 35 miles
                    per hour, city streetcar speeds. There has been one serious injury
                    so far and one which Metro has not prosecuted, a Union Pacific
                    Railroad employee who raised the railroad crossing arms on light
                    rail's high speed test track, drove his UPRR truck through the Kirby
                    Street crossing and promptly had his truck totaled by a fifty ton
                    light rail car moving at sixty miles per hour.

                    Twenty-five collisions with motorcars since light rail opened on
                    January 1 may seem like a lot to someone that lives in comparatively
                    small towns like Phoenix or Denver, but Houston has 900
                    road "accidents" in a month: fender benders, pedestrian and cyclists
                    crushed and horrid multi-vehicle accidents that close down freeways
                    and major roads. To find a city with worse drivers, you'd have to go
                    to Saudi Arabia or Mexico; roads are dangerous in Houston. It is
                    usually only the ones resulting in deaths that get reported, but all
                    light rail accidents do, since light rail is Houston's new toy, a
                    popular one for transit riders.

                    For 1½ miles on the southern end of the light rail line, the LR
                    cars
                    run along their own private right of way alongside Fannin Street,
                    where their speed is a higher, 40 miles per hour. Crossing arms are
                    installed at the intersecting streets, and there so far have been no
                    motor vehicle collisions along that stretch. But there have been
                    motorist fatalities in Dallas and on the Long Beach Line in LA where
                    maniacal motorists have driven around the railway crossing arms and
                    been killed for their efforts. Dallas runs their light rail system
                    on mostly grade-separated abandoned railroad right of ways, with a
                    lot of light rail overpasses and a subway. Since the Dallas light
                    rail vehicles are going sixty-five miles per hour in some places, it
                    can be expected that, although motorist encounters with light rail
                    will be less frequent in Dallas than in Houston, there is a greater
                    probability of fatalities in Dallas.

                    Houston light rail will be running throughout the city, the result of
                    the November 4, 2003 bond election when voters approved a MetroRail
                    expansion. I attended a public meeting on February 28 for the first
                    new line, the northward extension to Northline Mall, 5½ miles from
                    downtown. The community meeting was held at Jeff Davis High School
                    on Quitman St., in an entirely Hispanic neighborhood which the new
                    line will serve. It will be like the existing light rail line,
                    almost entirely reserved lanes for light rail in city streets. Metro
                    have not yet published their maps or aerial photographs shown at the
                    high school, nor did they have any handouts I could scan, but I've
                    drawn a somewhat crude map to help give those who are interested in
                    transit development an idea of what the line will be like. The near
                    northside of downtown Houston is mostly buildings from the 1910's or
                    1920's, a lower income neighborhood with heavy bus ridership. On the
                    following map, the green portions of the line are the street railway,
                    tramline parts. The light rail tracks will leave the street on
                    elevated bridges to avoid the Union Pacific Railroad in the south and
                    the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad in the north, and those
                    viaducts are represented by the blue portions of the line. The brown
                    portion in the south is the existing line in downtown Houston:

                    http://www.pccmph.com/images/northline.gif

                    A community meeting on another new line, the southeast route, through
                    an Afro-American neighborhood, will be held on March 30. There are
                    quite a few new lines, almost all of them streetcar alignments. The
                    following is not Metro's complete rail solutions plan, which extends
                    very far into the future, but it is their intended timetable over the
                    next twenty years:

                    North: UH Downtown to Northline Mal 2008
                    Southeast: Dowling to Griggs/610 2009
                    Downtown: Connector Bagby to Dowling 2010
                    Harrisburg: Dowling to Magnolia Transit Ctr 2010
                    Westpark: Wheeler Station to Hillcroft TC 2012
                    Uptown: Westpark to Northwest TC (via Galleria) 2014
                    US 90A commuter rail Fannin South to Harris County line 2017
                    Harrisburg: Magnolia TC to Gulfgate Center 2017
                    Sunnyside Branch: Southeast TC to Bellfort 2018
                    Katy Corridor: Bagby to Northwest TC 2019
                    Sunnyside Branch: Bellfort to Airport Blvd. 2021
                    Harrisburg: Gulfgate Ctr to Telephone Rd. 2021
                    Southeast: SE TC to Hinman Park & Ride Hobby Airport 2022
                    North: Northline to Greenspoint 2023
                    North: Greenspoint to Intercontinental Airport 2024



                    --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@c...>
                    wrote:
                    >
                    > Hi All,
                    >
                    > Regarding the Houston issue, notice that nearly all the
                    > crashes involve cars turning left.
                  • Mike Harrington
                    There is an important difference between New Orleans and Houston. In New Orleans, the car stops are two blocks apart, whereas in Houston they come to about a
                    Message 9 of 11 , Mar 10, 2004
                      There is an important difference between New Orleans and Houston. In
                      New Orleans, the car stops are two blocks apart, whereas in Houston
                      they come to about a kilometer apart. So Houston's express
                      streetcars are moving faster than the New Orleans cars since they
                      don't stop at most intersections. The faster speed and limited stops
                      of Houston's light rail with more connecting shuttle bus lines is
                      appropriate to a city of its size.

                      Most of that connecting bus system has been put on hold until the
                      completion of the study we've just read. I think the expanded bus
                      connections with the wholesale rerouting of bus lines into Wheeler,
                      Downtown Transit Center, and Tx. Medical Center stations, will happen
                      either this month or April. Houston Metro has a total fleet of 1200
                      buses. When the rerouting occurs the trams will go from every 12 to
                      every 6 minutes during the day, the same as New Orleans. I think
                      they will remain every 12 minutes at night, however. The line runs
                      out of downtown from 4:42 AM to 12:42 AM Monday through Saturday, and
                      5:42 to 12:42 on Sundays.

                      There's another important difference. The Houston car stops are also
                      unlike New Orleans in that they are raised platforms affording more
                      protection for waiting passengers from dangerous drivers, the same as
                      we're seeing on the northside line opening for service in Portland
                      this May.

                      Driving, jogging or cycling on Houston streetcar tracks stands a good
                      chance of getting you a ticket from Metro police. Houston's not as
                      laid back as New Orleans, which doesn't have Houston's traffic
                      problems.

                      --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "Matt Hohmeister"
                      <mdh6214@g...> wrote:
                      > This reminds me of New Orleans, where the streetcars of an era past
                      not only cross
                      > streets, but travel in the same lanes as vehicles. In the Garden
                      District, I have seen people
                      > riding bicycles and jogging on the streetcar tracks--knowing, of
                      course, to get out of the
                      > way if they see a streetcar coming. Does anyone have New Orleans
                      accident figures?
                      >
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