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Oddball facts about Metro trains and their first 25 accidents
Houston Chronicle ^ | March 29, 2004 | LANA BERKOWITZ

Posted on 03/30/2004 6:01:05 AM PST by Flyer

Police reports for the first 25 vehicle accidents involving the Metro light rail reveal only one fact for certain: Aries are the safest drivers.

The collisions began Nov. 19 although the light-rail system didn't open to the public until Jan. 1. The list keeps growing -- it hit 31 Monday -- but this roundup focuses on the 25 pioneers, a diverse group.

Officers don't ask for drivers' horoscope signs, but a check of birth dates reveals no Aries among the crashers. But it seems Geminis like to drive on the wild side.

There are two Marys and a Maria in the stack of police reports. Also, contrary to water-cooler speculation, there's only one guy with the middle name Wayne. But there's also one named Dwayne, and everyone knows that a Dwayne is worth five Waynes.

A couple of errant drivers pulled out of driveways into the trains and someone ran a red light, but most of the crashes were due to illegal left turns. Repeat: illegal left turns.

Metro spokesman Ken Connaughton definitely sees a pattern: "People aren't paying attention."

Here's a look at the numbers.

What's your sign?

Gemini (5)

Pisces (3)

Virgo (3)

Scorpio (3)

Cancer (2)

Leo (2)

Libra (2)

Sagittarius (2)

Taurus (1)

Capricorn (1)

Aquarius (1)

Aries (0)

How many thought there would be more women than men?

Men (16)

Women (9)

White guys are in the majority.

White males (13)

White females (6)

Black females (2)

Black male (1)

Asian female (1)

Asian male (1)

Hispanic male (1)

Most of the wreckers were ages 32 to 59, but a septuagenarian from Angleton managed to find the side of a rail car. Note: no reckless teenagers!

24-29 (4)

32-39 (6)

41-49 (7)

50-59 (6)

64 (1)

71 (1)

It's probably best to avoid the rail line at certain times. Time of accidents:

8:20-9:35 a.m. (3)

10:17 a.m.-10:38 a.m. (5)

11:50 a.m.-1:47 p.m. (9)

2:10-4:30 p.m. (5)

6:18-7:47 p.m. (3)

Avoid Main Street on Fridays. The light rail is particularly attractive to cars just before the weekend. Crashes by day:

Sunday (1)

Monday (4)

Tuesday (5)

Wednesday (4)

Thursday (1)

Friday (7)

Saturday (3)

Sixteen drivers were from Houston. Nine towns had one offender each. No Groesbeck jokes, please.

Angleton

Beaumont

Hillsboro

Groesbeck

Grapevine

Humble

Kingwood

Sugar Land

Knoxville, Tenn.

A Channel 2 reporter started the crash parade in November. One woman said she had no occupation. Driver job descriptions:

Manager (3)

Student (2)

Construction (2)

Nurse (2)

Retiree (2 )

None

Self-employed

Driver/guard

Electrician

Engineer

Galvanization operator

Geophysicist

Hair dresser

Insurance agent

Musician

Rail repair

Reporter

Unemployed

Welder

It's a bland parade of vehicles, especially if you lump the first three colors together.

White (5)

Gray (4)

Silver (2)

Black (4)

Green (3)

Blue (2)

Brown (2)

Red (1)

Tan (1)

Maroon (1)

A guy who said he was a manager probably said "darn" when he crashed his 2004 brown Ford F-150. The crumpled vehicles:

1981 Chevrolet truck

1984 Chevrolet Suburban

1988 Ford Crown Victoria

1989 Dodge Dynasty

1990 Mercedes

1992 GMC pickup

1992 Toyota Previa

1996 Toyota 4Runner

1997 Mercury Sable station wagon

1997 Nissan pickup

1997 Toyota Land Cruiser

1998 Dodge Stratus

1999 Jeep Cherokee

1999 GMC C7500 utility van

1999 Toyota Sienna

2000 Chevrolet Astro van

2000 Chevrolet Venture van

2000 Ford Explorer

2001 Pontiac Grand Prix

2002 Acura RSX

2002 Mercury Sable

2002 Toyota Camry

2003 Dodge Durango

2003 BMW 330i

2004 Ford F-150 pickup


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: anticar; antidrivers; antiproperty; boondoggle; commuterists; commuterrail; commuters; deathrail; deathtrain; houston; leepbrownmemorial; lightrail; metrorail; publictransit; quagmire; rail; safetyhazard; socialism; taxdollarsatwork; texas; trainofdeath; whambamtram; youpayforthis
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1 posted on 03/30/2004 6:01:06 AM PST by Flyer
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To: 1riot1ranger; Action-America; Aggie Mama; Alkhin; Allegra; American72; antivenom; Antoninus II; ...
Fear the Train!

*PING!*

As always, a FReep mail will get you on or off this Houston and Texas topics ping list.

2 posted on 03/30/2004 6:02:16 AM PST by Flyer ( http://talesfromtherail.com/ . . . .The disaster in Houston known as MetroRail)
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To: Willie Green
Light-Rail-At-Work ping for ya!
3 posted on 03/30/2004 6:07:10 AM PST by Fierce Allegiance (GWB '04)
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To: Flyer
The train on Main is certainly a pain.
4 posted on 03/30/2004 6:10:45 AM PST by humblegunner
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To: humblegunner
BTW, here's the stats for your charts and graphs all in one place. Makes your job a ton easier.
5 posted on 03/30/2004 6:11:53 AM PST by Flyer ( http://talesfromtherail.com/ . . . .The disaster in Houston known as MetroRail)
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To: Flyer
The Wham Bam Tram strikes again. But you have to admit they are getting the cars off the road, one at a time. Please add me to your ping list. Thank you.
6 posted on 03/30/2004 6:12:32 AM PST by TXBSAFH (KILL-9 needs no justification.)
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To: TXBSAFH
Please add me to your ping list

Done!

7 posted on 03/30/2004 6:15:18 AM PST by Flyer ( http://talesfromtherail.com/ . . . .The disaster in Houston known as MetroRail)
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To: Flyer
With 31 wrecks (as of this morning) it's undeniable that Houston mass transit is taking cars off the road faster than planners envisioned.
8 posted on 03/30/2004 6:16:00 AM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Flyer
here's the stats for your charts and graphs all in one place.

My cup runneth over, verily. ;-)

9 posted on 03/30/2004 6:17:31 AM PST by humblegunner
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To: Dog Gone
With 31 wrecks (as of this morning)

As of this morning at 8:15. As fast as they are coming, we need to be more time specific.

10 posted on 03/30/2004 6:18:05 AM PST by Flyer ( http://talesfromtherail.com/ . . . .The disaster in Houston known as MetroRail)
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To: Flyer; humblegunner; Xenalyte
This is all hilarious. Zodiac signs, even!

I'm also chuckling at the little arguments on the Locale page about where the majority of the accidents have taken place.

11 posted on 03/30/2004 6:29:06 AM PST by Allegra
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To: Flyer
25? Now THERE'S a quality scientific sample size to represent a populaiton of 270,000,000! /s>
12 posted on 03/30/2004 6:29:52 AM PST by Teacher317
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To: Flyer
What is the customary gift when someone has 25 accidents? A silver neckbrace?
13 posted on 03/30/2004 6:54:39 AM PST by weegee (From the way the Spanish voted - it seems that the Europeans do know there is an Iraq-Al Qaida link.)
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To: Flyer
The comical had an article a couple?few? weeks ago, talking about the ridership of the train (and how wonderful it is yadda yadda ignoring the $$ issue i.e. how the wham-bam tram will not be self sufficient). ANYWAY - how, where could I find the METRO bus rider numbers for the routes that were taken away by the wham-bam tram? Are those numbers available? I'm guessing a comparison would be damaging for the wham-bam tram by showing that mass transit ridership had declined for that area after the wham-bam tram was installed (because no one from METRO is holding them up and saying seee!!! we were right, more people are riding now than rode the bus!).
14 posted on 03/30/2004 6:56:21 AM PST by NotQuiteCricket (10 kinds of people in the world us and them.)
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To: NotQuiteCricket
AND - what were the METRO bus accident figures? I bet that those would be unfavorable for the wham-bam tram too.
15 posted on 03/30/2004 6:57:36 AM PST by NotQuiteCricket (10 kinds of people in the world us and them.)
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To: Flyer
Avoid Main Street on Fridays.

I've got better advice that the Houston Commiecal will never print: "AVOID DOWNTOWN ALTOGETHER - Metrorail is a boondoggle and a quagmire".

16 posted on 03/30/2004 6:58:13 AM PST by weegee (From the way the Spanish voted - it seems that the Europeans do know there is an Iraq-Al Qaida link.)
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To: Flyer
The comical is making light of this tragic situation to try to defuse the critics.

If any of this data meant ANYTHING, the writer would predict in print the nature of the next accident "sex/race of driver, day/time, type of vehicle, etc.).

17 posted on 03/30/2004 7:00:51 AM PST by weegee (From the way the Spanish voted - it seems that the Europeans do know there is an Iraq-Al Qaida link.)
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To: Flyer
Notice that more than 1/3 of drivers were from out of town (36%).

It just shows that Metro's choice of route was flawed, along with all their other mistakes (i.e. street level, way too quiet, should be painted black and yellow angled stripes, like a "DANGER" sign, etc.). I challenge anyone to pick 25 somehow geographically related accidents that occurred anywhere in Houston, except near the airports, where more than a third involved out-of-towners.

They put the Wham-Bam-Tram right through the middle of two of the areas of town that are a magnet for out-of-towners - the Medical Center and the Museum District. For that reason, a disproportionately high number of people driving in the area are not familiar with the area and are busy looking for street signs and landmarks, which naturally detracts from their safety observations, like watching out for a 49 ton train that shouldn't have been there in the first place.

By the time all of the lawsuits are over, the primary fault will be laid clearly at the feet of the Metro officials and designers, who came up with the insane design and route for the Wham-Bam-Tram. I expect that when all is said and done, they will all have to go into the federal WITSEC program (witness protection).

 

18 posted on 03/30/2004 7:04:50 AM PST by Action-America (Best President: Reagan * Worst President: Klinton * Worst GOP President: Dubya)
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To: Action-America
If the accidents are going to proportionally include a significant number of out of town drivers, then no education program to teach Houston drivers will eliminate the accidents Metrorail is encountering.

Education is NOT the answer. Maybe better breaks on the railtrains so that they can stop BEFORE an accident occurs.

19 posted on 03/30/2004 7:13:36 AM PST by weegee (From the way the Spanish voted - it seems that the Europeans do know there is an Iraq-Al Qaida link.)
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To: weegee
What is the customary gift when someone has 25 accidents? A silver neckbrace?

Maybe sorta silver - a chrome bumper?

20 posted on 03/30/2004 7:41:38 AM PST by Flyer ( http://talesfromtherail.com/ . . . .The disaster in Houston known as MetroRail)
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To: NotQuiteCricket
how, where could I find the METRO bus rider numbers for the routes that were taken away by the wham-bam tram?

If that info is available I bet Metro has it hidden well. Lotsa luck.

21 posted on 03/30/2004 7:44:45 AM PST by Flyer ( http://talesfromtherail.com/ . . . .The disaster in Houston known as MetroRail)
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To: Action-America
should be painted black and yellow angled stripes, like a "DANGER" sign

But, but. . . this train is much more about pretty than practical.

22 posted on 03/30/2004 7:48:06 AM PST by Flyer ( http://talesfromtherail.com/ . . . .The disaster in Houston known as MetroRail)
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To: Dog Gone
With 31 wrecks (as of this morning) it's undeniable that Houston mass transit is taking cars off the road faster than planners envisioned.

Great post, I'll be borrowing it if you don't mind.

23 posted on 03/30/2004 7:50:25 AM PST by TexasCajun
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To: Dog Gone
With 31 wrecks (as of this morning) it's undeniable that Houston mass transit is taking cars off the road faster than planners envisioned.

Great post, I'll be borrowing it if you don't mind.

24 posted on 03/30/2004 7:50:44 AM PST by TexasCajun
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To: Dog Gone
With 31 wrecks (as of this morning) it's undeniable that Houston mass transit is taking cars off the road faster than planners envisioned.

Great post, I'll be borrowing it if you don't mind.

25 posted on 03/30/2004 7:50:48 AM PST by TexasCajun
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To: Fierce Allegiance; Dog Gone
Light-Rail-At-Work ping for ya!

Thanks for the ping.

Interesting stats.
They prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that bonehead Houstonian drivers come from all walks of life.
Oughta make EVERYBODY in Houston take a Driver Safety refresher course before renewing their driver's licesne.
If they flunk, revoke the license and let 'em ride the train.
Houston streets will be a LOT safer without those idiots who don't know how to drive.

26 posted on 03/30/2004 8:02:21 AM PST by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: Flyer
A couple of errant drivers pulled out of driveways into the trains and someone ran a red light, but most of the crashes were due to illegal left turns. Repeat: illegal left turns.

If these drivers had paid attention to where they were going and obeyed all of the traffic laws, all of these accidents could have been avoided.

27 posted on 03/30/2004 8:07:33 AM PST by judgeandjury
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To: judgeandjury; Willie Green
If these drivers had paid attention to where they were going and obeyed all of the traffic laws, all of these accidents could have been avoided.

I'm so tired of you folks that don't take the time to understand the situation. Do you know it runs down the middle of the streets in our medical center? Do you know it shares lanes with cars at some points? Have you ever driven the area?

28 posted on 03/30/2004 8:11:42 AM PST by Flyer ( http://talesfromtherail.com/ . . . .The disaster in Houston known as MetroRail)
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To: Flyer
I'm so tired of you folks that don't take the time to understand the situation. Do you know it runs down the middle of the streets in our medical center? Do you know it shares lanes with cars at some points? Have you ever driven the area?

I grew up in Pittsburgh when there were light-rail trolleys and streetcar lines all over the place. Just like there were in many, many other American cities. NO PROBLEM. Idiots in Houston just plain don't know how to drive. The truth is, most of the accidents were the fault of careless automobile drivers not paying attention to other traffic on the road and making illegal left-hand turns.

29 posted on 03/30/2004 8:29:46 AM PST by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: judgeandjury
We could land airliners on our freeways, too, if we gave them the right of way over vehicles. It doesn't mean it would be a good idea.
30 posted on 03/30/2004 8:39:07 AM PST by Dog Gone
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To: judgeandjury
Newsflash, if drivers controlled their speed and yielded the right of way, most of every day's vehicular accidents (whether with the rail, cars/trucks, or pedestrians) could be avoided.

Note to Comical: Many accidents are avoidable, it doesn't lessen the impact when the happen.

31 posted on 03/30/2004 8:40:16 AM PST by weegee (I'm anti-establishment . I oppose the liberal media elites.)
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To: Willie Green
Houston has some parts of the rail where the turn lane for cars making a LEGAL left turn is on the rail track itself (the cars drive and sit on the tracks facing the same direction as the train).

And as 1/3 of the drivers are not local, that would mean that drivers in general are stupid, not just Houston's drivers.

32 posted on 03/30/2004 8:43:04 AM PST by weegee (I'm anti-establishment . I oppose the liberal media elites.)
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To: Flyer
I'm a Scorpio,
white male, forty-three years old . . .
Some train has my name . . .
33 posted on 03/30/2004 8:44:07 AM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: weegee
Houston has some parts of the rail where the turn lane for cars making a LEGAL left turn is on the rail track itself (the cars drive and sit on the tracks facing the same direction as the train).

No different than anywhere else that has trolleys and streetcars.

And as 1/3 of the drivers are not local, that would mean that drivers in general are stupid, not just Houston's drivers.

OK. Then TEXAS drivers are more stupid than anywhere else in the nation.
That oughta make Kalifornia Kooks feel better.

34 posted on 03/30/2004 8:52:40 AM PST by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: Willie Green
I don't recall any place in Boston that has drivers pahk their cah on the T-line tracks while waiting to make a left turn.
35 posted on 03/30/2004 9:07:22 AM PST by weegee (I'm anti-establishment . I oppose the liberal media elites.)
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To: Willie Green
Our medical center receives a tremendous number of foreign patients. It is internally recognized. Think anybody driving through the medical center who doesn't live here locally could be visiting from another country?
36 posted on 03/30/2004 9:09:17 AM PST by weegee (I'm anti-establishment . I oppose the liberal media elites.)
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To: weegee
Our medical center receives a tremendous number of foreign patients.

OK, it's the Carpet Pilot drivers that are stupid. I like that better. I wish people wouldn't use this as just another excuse to bash Texans. This is really about the democrat party machine that runs Houston and the affirmative action babies Lee Brown (the Dread Pirate Mayor - ex) and Shirley Delibero (the Transit Queen) who together don't have sense enough to pour piss out of a boot with instructions on the heel. Idiots. Criminally corrupt idiots.
37 posted on 03/30/2004 9:20:47 AM PST by johnb838 (Kerry: Wrong on Defense, Wrong on Taxes. Repeat as necessary.)
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To: weegee
I don't recall any place in Boston that has drivers pahk their cah on the T-line tracks while waiting to make a left turn.

I'm not very familiar with Boston.
But the downtown streets of many older eastern cities, such as Pittsburgh, are often too narrow to accommodate dedicated left-hand turns. Left-turns, if permitted, are simply made from a left-lane that also accommodates straight-through traffic. No problem.

But that's a disingenous dodge anyway.
Houston drivers who were involved in accidents with the Metro weren't just innocently sitting in their cars waiting to make a legal turn.
Previous articles on this issue identified them as idiots attempting illegal turns.

38 posted on 03/30/2004 9:30:58 AM PST by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: weegee
Our medical center receives a tremendous number of foreign patients. It is internally recognized.

Their facilities must be hugh.
I bet they can treat some very series ailments.

39 posted on 03/30/2004 9:34:04 AM PST by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: Willie Green
Oughta make EVERYBODY in Houston take a Driver Safety refresher course before renewing their driver's licesne.

Did you not read the article, Willie? Over a THIRD of the wreck victims are out of towners (and even more are suburbanites who probably don't travel into downtown houston very often). No ammount of public safety campaign will ever get all the out of towners to quit crashing and absent a nationwide test program, your little license renewal scheme could never be enforced. If you want to see wrecks decline I've got a simple solution for you: FIX THE PROBLEMS WITH THE TRAIN.

40 posted on 03/30/2004 9:35:32 AM PST by GOPcapitalist
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Been in Houston for 28 years...the amount of stupid, moronic, idiotic, phone-in-their-face, no turn signal using drivers is impossible to count.

Easy to settle this argument...how many of the accidents were due to the train drivers error? Case closed!
41 posted on 03/30/2004 9:48:08 AM PST by blabs
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To: Willie Green
No different than anywhere else that has trolleys and streetcars.

Wrong. The simple laws of physics distinguish metrorail from most old-style streetcars in one key way: momentum. Metrorail may not travel any faster than those streetcars and it may cost 100+ times as much to operate, but its momentum is substantially higher, thus making it more difficult to stop. Most streetcars are about the size of a bus. This thing is the size of, well, a train.

You'll also note that other cities with light rail systems also have high accident rates every single year. Portland, Oregon - the favorite model light rail system of every smart growth nazi in this country - obliterates about 40 cars a year.

42 posted on 03/30/2004 9:49:28 AM PST by GOPcapitalist
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To: Willie Green
D*mn Willie, you are one determined son-of-a-gun. You are going to get riders on this B-O-O-N-D-O-G-G-L-E one way or another. Make them out of towners turn in their cars at the city limits too.

Since I just found out from one of the posts that Houston has a Museum District, Maybe they should use that as a permanent parking spot for this train. Of course with a name like Wham-Bam a different district may be more appropriate.
43 posted on 03/30/2004 9:54:22 AM PST by rock58seg (Character and integrity do count. BUSH/CHENEY 04)
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To: Willie Green; Flyer
Willie,

I was born and raised in the Houston area, we have always driven like a cross between Nascar and a kamakazi. This is a known fact. The issue I have with the Wham Bam Tram is, beside being a huge waste of money that only helps rasie property values for a few people, they were stupid enough to put it at ground level were drives with all the survial instincts of manically depressed lemmings can get to it.
44 posted on 03/30/2004 9:54:45 AM PST by TXBSAFH (KILL-9 needs no justification.)
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To: johnb838
his is really about the democrat party machine that runs Houston and the affirmative action babies Lee Brown (the Dread Pirate Mayor - ex) and Shirley Delibero (the Transit Queen)

You got that right. I would also add the unspoken dirty little secret of Houston government to the list of affirmative action babies: Metro, as in the sum of the transit agency's employees. It doesn't take long to figure out what that agency really is and is not. It is not a transportation service in any normal sense - it's a government jobs program for unqualified affirmative action recipients who would get fired from anywhere else. If you or anybody wants proof of this go drive over by UH or in downtown or down Richmond or practically anywhere inside the loop at about 2 AM on any given weeknight. You will see completely empty Metro busses making their normal rounds and stopping at the stops every 15 to 20 minutes like it was broad daylight with rush hour approaching. They literally drive empty busses around in the wee hours of the morning to invent employment for people and soon will be doing the same thing with the trains as they approach something akin to 20 out of 24 hours a day operation.

Now - look at the statistics for Metro's employee demographics. At last release, a certain unnamed constituency that makes up about 20% of the Houston population holds some 65% of the jobs at Metro. That constituency outnumbers both the majority demographic and another larger minority demographic in employment - a breakdown that is statistically impossible (as in about 1 in a million chance) to achieve when drawing from a population breakdown like Houston's...unless you have a clear and conscious policy of employment favoritism to that certain demographic group over all others. Put another way, Mayor "Speaking Lessing's" largest voting constituency got rewarded for all those years of loyalty at the polls with cushy jobs behind the wheel of a death train.

45 posted on 03/30/2004 10:04:52 AM PST by GOPcapitalist
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To: Willie Green
The trolley/lightrail lines etc. were there first and people, as they began get cars, learned to accomodate them. When you drop a trolley/lightrail line into a functioning personal vehicle system, as Houston, you promote chaos.

The Brooklyn Dodgers were named the Dodgers because of the numerous trolley cars that the people of Brooklyn dodged.

Is there a Houston Whammer in our future?
46 posted on 03/30/2004 10:05:48 AM PST by rock58seg (Character and integrity do count. BUSH/CHENEY 04)
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It wouldn't matter if they elevated this thing, the frickin idiot drivers in this town would probably run into the steel column.

Someone's always gonna bitch at something

As far as property values are concerned, yeehaw! I moved into the area about 1.5 years ago just for that reason.

Opportunity awaits no man, you can sit on your ass and complain about it, or you can take advantage of it.

By the way, got a $200,000 dollar condo I'm selling. It'll be $250,000 next year...get it while it's hot!!
47 posted on 03/30/2004 10:07:10 AM PST by blabs
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To: blabs
Easy to settle this argument...how many of the accidents were due to the train drivers error?

At least one (where the train was joyriding at excessive speeds on a test track in the presence of a known track repair crew - i.e. speeding in a construction zone). Maybe two due to the driver's failure to alert a disabled pedestrian with his horn. But you are still asking the wrong question. The real issue is as follows: how many of the accidents were caused or substantially contributed to by design flaws in the train's track location, operation capabilities, or signalling systems?

I'd estimate the answer to that question to be somewhere between half and three fourths. Case closed.

48 posted on 03/30/2004 10:09:44 AM PST by GOPcapitalist
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To: theFIRMbss
I'm a Scorpio,
white male, forty-three years old . . .
Some train has my name . .

I'm a Scorpio,
White male,
49 years old,
I live in Houston,
I'm self employed,
My vehicle is red,
And it's a Jeep Cherokee.

Every train has my name!

49 posted on 03/30/2004 10:12:14 AM PST by Flyer ( http://talesfromtherail.com/ . . . .The disaster in Houston known as MetroRail)
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To: Willie Green
As much as we hate the words, "This is how we do it in New York," I do not know of one single place, where the street level and R/R Subway tracks are on the same level within the five boroughs.

I would suppose there is a reason for that.
50 posted on 03/30/2004 10:12:53 AM PST by rock58seg (Character and integrity do count. BUSH/CHENEY 04)
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