Tuesday, March 8, 2011

High speed rail in Texas: options

by Christof Spieler

I already looked at the sorry condition of megaregional transit in Texas. But that could change quickly. At the megaregion conference, politicians – Republicans and Democrats — from Houston, Austin, Fort Worth, and College Station all called for connecting Texas with intercity passenger rail. They also agreed that highway-centric state government needs to pay more attention to rail, and indeed, TxDOT has created a (tiny) rail division. There’s a sense that a political consensus is building for megaregional transit. There are good ideas. But we’re a long way from building anything.
On a local level, political consensus is already showing results. Twenty years ago, Texas had no rail transit systems. Today, it has five (Dallas light rail, commuter rail, and streetcar, Houston light rail, and Galveston streetcar.) Both of those light rail system are in the process of massive expansion, Austin is about to open its first rail line, and Denton is building a diesel light rail line connecting to DART. In the planning stages: commuter rail in Fort Worth, a second commuter rail line in Dallas, commuter rail between Austin and San Antonio, commuter rail in Houston, and streetcars in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin. (San Antonio is also in the early stages of a light rail/streetcar study.) Thus, within another decade, we could have 15 rail transit systems:

DART light rail in Dallas, Texas, photo by edgebrook
DART light rail in Dallas, Texas, photo by williamedia
DART light rail in Dallas, Texas, photo by wisefly
DART light rail in Dallas, Texas, photo by Diorama Sky
more posts about public transportation in the United States:

Rapid Transit Closer to Realization as Honolulu’s Rail Project Breaks Ground

Tussle over SB 375 target for Southern California resolved, but funding challenges remain

Transportation: Austin - Rail studies costing city millions, before public vote

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