Advocates call on the region to invest in light and commuter rail.
The group, Environment Texas, has a released a report that estimates the nation could generate three million jobs by investing in mass transit. In the Houston area, the group believes local governments could reduce pollution by up to ten percent by expanding the rail system.
"We think that people here in Houston are ready for change," says the organization's Alejandro Savransky. "Public transportation should be a big priority in this city."
Savransky credits the city with expanding the light rail system, which currently runs for seven miles from downtown to the Medical Center. By 2012, the city hopes to operate six lines that will reach both airports and run from Hillcroft to the East End.
"That's a huge step for the city. It's a great infrastructure investment," says Councilman Peter Brown. "It's cleaner energy that's used. We're not burning fossil fuels."
Brown says the expansion of light rail will help Houston reduce its reliance on cars, but he says the city also needs to become more walkable.
"If you don't have destinations, you won't have a walkable city, but we have some marvelous urban places," he adds. "Discovery Green Park, I think, is a really good example of one of those destinations that brings people together on foot."
Savransky and Brown also say local governments need to work with Congress to secure funding for commuter rail. Current proposals include a line that would run along Highway 290 and another that would link Houston and Galveston.
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