In a significant increase from two years ago, 16 million people now travel between Houston and North Texas annually – and an overwhelming majority of Texans say they would like to use a high-speed train as a safe, reliable time-saver for those trips.
These are among the key findings of an updated travel trends study, Transforming Travel in Texas, that analyzed the market the Texas high-speed train will serve. The study, containing new research and analysis conducted by L.E.K. Consulting (L.E.K.), reports that the high-speed train could cut journey times by 60 to 90 minutes on average, making the overall connection between Houston and North Texas faster than air or auto travel.
Texas Central, developers of the high-speed train service, released the updated study, which indicates that the ridership forecast has increased over the last two years. The study now estimates nearly 6 million passengers will use the train annually by 2029 and that ridership will jump to more than 13 million passengers annually by 2050. The 200 mph train will connect the country’s fourth and seventh largest economies in 90 minutes, with a stop in the Brazos Valley.
“With Texas’ large and continually growing economy and its rapid embrace of new ‘mobility as a service’ technologies, there could not be a better time for the introduction of a high-speed train service,” the study said. The high-speed train will provide a significantly different product compared to cars, which carry 90% of the travelers between Houston and North Texas, with much shorter and more reliable end-to-end journey times, increased comfort and the ability for travelers to be productive during their journey, the study said.
Transforming Travel in Texas updates a similar study published in 2016, and draws on the most technologically advanced research and analysis of this region. This research is based on a broad range of sources and data-collection techniques, including travelers’ anonymized and aggregated cell phone data, Bluetooth sensors and publicly available information from the Texas Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The modeling techniques met or exceeded the best practices outlined by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the research was informed by more traveling Texans and more than 3 billion calculations.
The high-speed train would shave an hour or more off total journey times between Greater Houston and North Texas as well as avoid traffic congestion and the delays associated with car and truck accidents, according to the study. On average, journeys with the Texas high-speed train are expected to be at least 90 minutes faster than traveling by car and 60 minutes faster than traveling by plane.
“More Texans are on the move. The study shows again that urban Texans are leaving their cars behind and demanding greater mobility choices, proving travelers want a better and more predictable way to travel. Most of the exponential growth in Texas is happening in these markets and the business and personal connections between them continue to deepen. The Texas high-speed train will give Texans the freedom and time through short, predictable and productive trips,” said Tim Keith, chief investment officer for Texas Central.
Among other highlights of the research:
- Texas’ growth drives increase in ridership estimates: Texas’ strong economy and population boom will help drive the success of the Texas high-speed train. In 2015, approximately 14 million people traveled annually between Houston and North Texas – a figure that increased to 16 million in 2017.
- More people are moving to the urban regions, causing congestion and delays and growing the market for alternative travel solutions: The Houston-North Texas corridor is expected to grow by 1.5 percent per year to 2050, almost twice the U.S. national average. This is expected to add an additional 10 million residents to the area by 2050, most likely residing in the urbanized areas of Greater Houston and North Texas. Aggregate Houston-to-North Texas trips are estimated to balloon to about 40 million by then.
- High-speed train riders will arrive on schedule and save more time while traveling between North Texas and Houston:The Texas high-speed train is expected to save 60 to 90 minutes per trip made between these major metro areas. Further, passenger stations will be within 60 minutes’ drive for 80 percent of area residents, enabling easy access to each region’s existing highways and expansive public transit networks.
- Texans want to ride the high-speed train: An overwhelming majority of Texans (85 percent of those surveyed) who have traveled between Greater Houston and North Texas over the last 12 months say they would use the Texas high-speed train in the right circumstances, according to a survey of travelers. As many as 72 percent say they definitely or probably would use the service now if it were available.
- Texans will ride the train as an alternative to driving, and rideshare technology adoption rates are proving it: The ride hailing surveys conducted show that between 2016 and 2018, the proportion of travelers using ride hailing services to travel to and from airports in North Texas and Houston has more than doubled in two years. Nearly 80 percent of those travelers surveyed say that they would travel by high-speed train in the future.
These highlights are extracts that should be considered in the context of the wider Transforming Travel in Texas study, which can be downloaded here: https://www.texascentral.com/ridership-brochure-download/
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