New Chron Galveston bureau reporter could use a little balance

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In a story that appeared on momentarily on Saturday, then disappeared, then reappeared on Sunday, Harvey Rice reported on some rail utopians on the island:

A passenger train between Houston and Galveston could begin rolling along the oldest rail line in Texas in as little as five years, according to members of a study group trying to make it happen.

The group is working on a blueprint for the city of Galveston, which it expects to complete in June, that will specify the costs and construction needs for reviving passenger service that ceased in 1967.

The passenger line is needed to ease steadily worsening traffic congestion on the Gulf Freeway and reduce automobile pollution that is contributing to the Houston area’s failure to meet federal clean-air standards, proponents say.

The commuter rail line would cost far less than light rail or expanding the freeway, allow an increase in rail-freight service and offer an efficient evacuation route from Galveston when hurricanes threaten, they say.

“It has all the elements that would make it eminently possible,” said study-group member John Bertini, chairman of the Galveston Railroad Museum board.

If by “eminently possible” we mean that Houston-Galveston rail could be built at great expense for reasons that are not compelling, then yes, anything is possible. Councilmember Michael Berry, on the other hand, offered a far more skeptical view on his KPRC-950 program Monday, available for a limited time for download on this page.

Rice is fairly new to the Galveston beat, having replaced Kevin Moran, who covered it for years. It’s a shame his story was written entirely from the perspective of the Galveston rail utopians, with no counterbalance. It’s as if the new reporter on the scene has already been captured by the natives, or rail utopianism, or something. Here’s hoping there will be less cheerleading from Rice’s future Galveston bureau reporting.

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