We learned last week that the Dallas-to-Houston bullet train is likely not to see its southern terminus reach downtown Houston but will instead stop at that city’s Northwest Mall, which is along Interstate 610 loop, just south of U.S Highway 290 — about an 8-mile drive from downtown. The reason is that the environmental impact of taking a train through the neighborhoods that would be affected by the closing of that distance are too costly.
Houston’s METRORail doesn’t connect to Northwest Mall. According to Google, this is the public transportation option available for getting from there to downtown:
So Dallas to Houston in 90 minutes, then Northwest Houston to downtown Houston 40 minutes, if you get to the bus stop just in time for a pick-up. Or, of course, a pricy taxi ride. At any rate, it would seem to make the train considerably less useful, unless you’re dying to visit Northwest Mall’s Southern Apache Museum.
METRORail doesn’t already have plans in the works to take its rail service to that part of town, though there’s speculation about a partnership in which Texas Central, the private effort behind the bullet train, might help to fund a connection. However, Texas Central CEO Tim Keith seems reluctant to commit to such a proposal yet:
The discussions will likely include the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which is planning some projects around Loop 610 and U.S. 290. Metro board member Jim Robinson said Metro officials have suggested the private high-speed rail firm help to pay for a Metro light rail extension to the area.
“They could extend light rail for a fraction of (the high-speed rail cost), and that would certainly better serve their business model,” Robinson said. “I think we should absolutely partner with them.”
Keith said no conversations about Texas Central funding other improvements have taken place.
“We are going to work hard to get something to maximize connectivity,” he said.