Bad Drivers or Bad Design in Houston? Watch "Metro's Greatest Hits" and Decide for Yourself
The video that we featured last week showed a rare collision between a train and a bus in Houston, TX. Much more common in Houston are collisions between automobiles and Houston's new train. This blooper reel shows some apparently not so rare footage from the train's on board camera, as the crashes shown span a time period of only one year.
The accident rate between cars and Houston's train is significantly above average when compared to other cities with rail. Being that the train is above ground, shares the right of way with automobile traffic, and is very quiet, a train can sneak up on a confused driver, finding themselves in unfamiliar territory. But still, the transformed Main Street in Downtown Houston, is unmistakably a rail corridor, and drivers who aren't texting or eating while driving have a good chance of surviving unscathed. While similar above ground systems in other cities do not suffer the same rate of attack from distracted drivers, Houston's system has often been criticized as being poorly planned and rushed to completion to be ready for the 2004 Superbowl, which Houston hosted.
One potential solution is turn Main Street into an exclusive corridor for transit riders and pedestrians and route vehicular traffic to the many other downtown streets. Another solution could be to install in impermeable median of some sort that acts as a referee between the autos and the train.
Unfortunately, when rail systems are rushed to completion, when contracts go awry, or when aesthetics come before function, it give rail opponents, such as the automobile and highway lobby, something to point to when convincing city leaders and voters to choose more highways instead of rail. Anti rail campaigns who parade and emphasize flaws in neighboring rail systems, helped to defeat rail in Austin and San Antonio, TX when they had the chance to vote on comprehensive, federally subsidized rail systems, both which would have been completed by now.