Metro Rail System: Transportation of the Future by Shanetra Foster


1201 Louisiana
P.O. Box 61429
Houston, TX 77208-1429
(713)635-4000

On January 5, 2004 I deposited my four quarters into gray square box that resembled an ATM machine. This box was actually Metro’s TVM (Ticket Vending Machine) which is the machine you go to in order to purchase your ticket to ride the Light Rail. My mother, niece and I waited patiently in line to aboard the Light Rail for the first time. We were so excited! It may seem a bit odd for a girl my age to be excited about riding a rail system, but it was something I’ve always dreamed of doing as a child. Well, my originally dream was to ride a subway, but this was close enough. The only difference would be that it ran on the surface of the ground instead of below the surface of the ground. Of course we did not have one of those here in Houston as I was growing up so this was my opportunity to ride one that was extremely similar.

As it slowly pulled up, I became very anxious to aboard. From the outside the colors of the train looked just like the ones on the Metro buses the only difference is that the Light Rail is a train. As I stepped aboard, I notice the floors had a black slip guard in the doorway and the bluish gray floors stood out with its white specks all over it. The seats were blue and the windows were very big. It was very crowd so I stood up holding on to one of the poles that ran from the ceiling to the floor of the Light Rail and looked out the window.

I was amazed at the scenery I saw passing through the city. Along the rails are purple guardrails with yellow, orange and green circles on them. The landscaping was beautiful with green grass and blossomed flowers following along the train tracks. Every area you passed was clean and neatly kept landscaping. I saw the Museum of Natural Sciences and Art as we passed through the Museum District. Even though I might have passed by it plenty of times before, this was my first time actually noticing it. The museum was beautiful. What really got my attention was the huge, breath-taking glass house that was in front of the building. I wanted so badly to get off and go visit the museum. I was noticing places that I never paid attention to and seeing the city I lived in all my life from a different angle.

The people on the train were all so different. Some were African-American, Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian. Some were old and some were young. Each person had his or her own destination. Most of the people looked as though they were going to either school or work. From the Astrodomain to Herman Park see lot types of people such as, women and children. The stretch from Downtown to Midtown is very open. You can see different skyscrapers and buildings and the people are more of businessmen most of them wearing pagers and talking on cell phones. Between the Texas Medical Center and Museum District the space seems more congested and the people are professional men and women coming to and from work. One lady, who looked as though she was about fifty years old, got on at the starting point of the train station, which is located on W. Bellfort behind AstroWorld. She wore a brown trench coat over a pair of scrubs and tennis shoes. In her hands were a newspaper and a lunch kit. She got off in the medical center across from Texas Children’s Hospital. So I assumed she worked at one of the surrounding hospitals. Because parking in the Medical center is so expensive, she rode the Light Rail to save money. There was not much conversation going on among the people aboard and I assumed it was because it was so early in the morning. The only conversation I did hear was coming from two middle-aged men about the general things men talk about, such as the weather and sports.

The ride was so smooth. All the noise of the day from the streets is blocked out once you get on the Light Rail. The only thing you hear is the voice of a woman over the intercom, which tells you the stop you are approaching in English and in Spanish. I thought this intercom was great. If you happen to fall asleep on the train you would be awoken by the voice to let you know when your stop was coming. Also if you did not know where you were going you could just look up at the schedule on the bus that tells you everywhere the train makes a stop or you could look on the TVM, which have maps of the different routes each train takes. The entire ride I said nothing because I was so taken about the whole experience.

When I got back to the Light Rail station, which is where we parked, I saw one of the train operators and decided to go ask him about how he felt about the train. His name was John Lewis and said he had been employed with Metro for fifteen years.

I asked, “Do you like driving the Light Rail compared to driving the Metro Bus?”

He responded with a smile, “Yes, I love it! You’re separate from everyone else, it’s safer because you have metro policeman at every stop, and easier because it damns near drives itself.” “The only bad thing is that taken on this route you can’t get any vacations for a whole year.”

Riding the Metro Light Rail System was incredible. It is so spacious, despite the fact that someone might be seating next to you; you can still feel that certain level of comfort that makes you feel comfortable. I find it so weird that I would never ride the Metro bus, not for the reason that I was too good, but because I just would refuse to. However now I would in fact ride the Light Rail with no problems.

Houston is a very big city and a great place to visit. When you come to Houston there are plenty of places to visit such as the museum and all our new stadiums. For years we have been behind in the latest advancement in technology. When a tourist comes to visit our city he/she does not have a personal tour guide to show them around the city, but I think our latest attraction to the city does just that. The Metro Light Rail System travels through Downtown, Midtown, the Texas Medical Center , Reliant Park , and South Fannin Park and Ride Lot.

Compared to buses the Light Rail is much more comfortably and relaxing. The buses also make much more stops than the Light Rail. The passengers of the Light Rail are more professional as to where the passengers of buses are more of the everyday citizens and kids coming from work, school, and etc. Therefore the buses tend to have a smell because of all the different people who ride. The one thing that I found that makes buses and the Light Rail similar and at the same time makes subways and the Light Rail different is that the Light Rail stops at traffic lights as a vehicle does.

I would love to see the Light Rail replace the bus system in Houston . I know that it would take a lot of time and money but I think it would be well worth it. According to ABC 13, Metro are already in the planning process of expanding the Light Rail to run from downtown to Northline Mall, which would be an additional 5.4 miles. (ABC 13) Although I would love to see the Light Rail expand, I personally would prefer the expansion to go towards the Galleria. I have traveled this route plenty of times and I know from experience that the Galleria traffic is horrible, especially with the closing of Spur 27. This would also be a great expansion because when tourists visit Houston the one of many things they want to do is shop. What place other do you go to shop than the Galleria?

I am very fascinated about the Metro Light Rail System because it has brought Houston a lot of much needed advancement and development to the city, particularly downtown. With the developing of the Light Rail, downtown has transformed. The city now has a downtown where you can walk around the streets and go to different nightclubs, bars and restaurants. It’s now a night scene, where as it use to be a dangerous place to be a night, especially by you. The Downtown streets are no longer the homes for the hundreds of homeless people that use to live there.

Map:

Links

Metro

Antique Cars

Hot Rods

Other Light Rails

TaxiCam

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