Staff editorial: Student voice needed in decisions involving Metro
In coming years, the expansion of Metro’s light rail and rapid bus transit systems will directly affect the layout and operations of the University.
A recent announcement that UH-Downtown and Metro have been coordinating the placement of the Intermodal Transit Center spotlights an important issue. Namely, student input should be actively sought when public transportation-related construction occurs.
Student opinion was notably absent from the planning of Metro’s Southeast Corridor, which calls for a rapid bus transit system to run down Wheeler Avenue. Slated for completion in 2011 or 2012, the line will significantly alter a substantial portion of campus by uprooting streets, creating construction obstacles and re-routing traffic.
If everything goes according to the University’s master plan, Cullen Boulevard will be shut off to automotive traffic by the time construction commences on the Southeast Corridor.
This will relegate Scott Street to being the primary artery for commuters from Interstate 45. To further complicate matters, construction related to the Southeast Corridor along Scott has the potential to make traffic truly nightmarish.
As the corridor snakes down Scott to Wheeler, multiple homes along Wheeler across from the University will be demolished to make way for the line, including homes rented by students.
It seems students would have an opinion about this -†if only they had been kept in the know.
In an effort to raise awareness of its plans, Metro held more than 100 public outreach meetings to discuss and debate the planned transportation corridors across the city, but none occurred at UH. While Metro’s attempts were admirable and productive, they simply weren’t enough to engage the student body.
The University administration was equally absent, and didn’t bother facilitating a meeting between Metro and student representatives until routes affecting UH had already been finalized.
Advertisements in The Daily Cougar, fliers around campus and forums held among Residential Life and Housing representatives and the Student Government Association would have gone a long way in involving the student body and generating feedback, yet seemingly no one bothered to try any of these relatively easy and affordable avenues.
Public transportation is important, and it is crucial to the growth of the University as well as the city as a whole. But to maximize the benefit of all parties, more needs to be done to keep all parties up to speed.
Something is amiss when the city’s largest University and the region’s public transportation provider are unable or unwilling to actively involve their constituents in their planning.