Residents want additional travel options
Residents of fast-growing northwest Harris County want more mass transit alternatives - such as Metro bus service to the Park & Ride commuter stations along U.S. 290, commuter rail and weekend service to central Houston cultural venues.
Those were some suggestions that surfaced at a meeting with residents of neighborhoods such as Copperfield, Bear Creek and Concord Colony, who came to one of a series of Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County "Share Your Vision" workshops in May and June.
Jeffery Butcher of Copperfield has lived in the area 27 years and thinks people are finally ready to give up their cars and consider mass transit.
"We've seen the traffic just grow tremendously out here. It's at a point now where it's stifling," said Butcher, who has a post-retirement job on Westheimer Road. "You'll do anything just to get out of traffic. It's changing the mind-set of people."
Meeting at the Harris County Public Library at Lone Star College-CyFair, participants drew on maps and imagined bus, light rail and bike routes for the northwest area, where subdivisions and retail strip centers are quickly replacing prairie.
Peter Wang, a Copperfield resident and a member of the Citizens Transportation Coalition, said direct service to jobs in the Energy Corridor and Westchase area - where he works - is "a big issue."
"If people don't get fast service, they don't care about it," Wang said. "I think people want real transit instead of just more roads."
580 senior citizens, who are involved in a lifelong-learning program at Lone Star College-CyFair, want to attend cultural events and visit museums in the city on the weekends, and they don't want to worry about parking, Joan Camenson said .
"They've mastered (bus service) to the (Houston) rodeo, but there are others things in life other than the rodeo, all year long," said Camenson, who lives in the Bonaire subdivision. "We have a big senior community out here."
Other suggestions were holiday bus service to area shopping centers like Willowbrook Mall and outlet malls in Katy and Cypress; more shelters, bike lanes and sidewalks in the FM 1960 area; and more or bigger buses for the Cypress Park & Ride, which was described as "getting crowded."
Bridget Demby, who lives in Bear Creek Plantation, said she has "thought about this a lot." She wants connections to the Greenspoint area, where she works, and circulator buses along Texas 6/FM 1960 for teenagers who want to get around the area. She also wants service to Intercontinental Airport from the West Little York Park & Ride.
"I don't think you could go wrong putting a route out here anywhere because there is nothing," Demby said.
Melissa Knox, who just moved back to Harris County from the San Francisco area, is starting a new job at the Texas Medical Center. She wants circulator buses to get her to the nearest Park & Ride, so she can dispense with her car.
Knox, who also put in a plug for more bike lanes, said the northwest area is overdue for mass transit.
"It would be nice to have more local service," Knox said. "Right now we just don't have an option other than to drive."
According to Houston Metro, the northwest quadrant of Harris County has a 2010 population of more than 2 million and is projected to grow to 3.3 million by 2040. This quadrant now includes 11 Park & Ride locations and six transit centers.
Kimberly Slaughter, Metro senior vice president of service design and development, acknowledged transit options were limited outside Beltway 8 in the northwest quadrant.
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