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Posts under ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’

Time to comment on the proposed high speed rail routes

Check ‘em out, and tell ‘em what you think. Observers have long known that only a few options were available for the route of the privately funded high-speed train line between Houston and Dallas. Now a firmer picture of where the trains might run is emerging. As part of the federally required process to evaluate […]

Reminder: Uber and Lyft aren’t legal yet in Houston

Drive for ‘em at your own risk for the next month or so. New entrants into Houston’s paid-ride market can’t be licensed to operate for another month, but the transition is proving problematic as the companies and drivers rack up citations and the city impounds vehicles. Since Aug. 6, when the City Council approved changes […]

Austin gives early approval to Uber and Lyft

It’s temporary pending a second Council vote and further study. After nearly four hours of testimony and debate, council members gave initial approval shortly after midnight to new rules that would temporarily legalize ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, whose drivers have been providing rides-for-hire for months in defiance of city code. The measure, […]

Metro board approves updated bus reimagining plan

With some provisos. Despite vocal opposition, Metropolitan Transit Authority board members tentatively approved sweeping changes to the bus route system that restructure routes and change daily habits for nearly everyone who uses a bus today. The approval authorizes staff to move forward with scheduling and other features, but it doesn’t close off public comment. “We […]

Free WiFi finally comes to Houston’s airports

Hallelujah. Travelers to Houston’s largest airports will now have access to free WiFi. The service will be available in all terminals at Hobby Airport and in Terminals A and D at Bush Intercontinental for the tens of millions of travelers through the airports each year, the Houston Airport System announced Monday. The service will roll […]

Public meetings coming for Texas Central Railway

Part of the process of getting the Houston-to-Dallas line built. A proposed high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston, already the subject of a federal environmental review, will soon be the focus of a series of public meetings in Texas, according to the president of the firm looking to build the line. The Texas Department […]

Texas Transportation Commission continues to be obstinate

This continues to be ridiculous. Continued disagreement about certain features of a planned Uptown bus rapid transit system prompted a Texas transportation official to suggest Thursday that $25 million in state funding should be redirected. The comments by Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Moseley were the latest setback for the project, intended to relieve traffic congestion […]

Southeast and Harrisburg line openings delayed again

sigh Metro acknowledged Wednesday that it will be unable to open its two new light rail lines this year as promised, the latest in a series of delays and controversies associated with the rail system. Less than two months ago, Metropolitan Transit Authority officials said the agency’s Green and Purple lines would open in December […]

Metro still tweaking its reimagined bus plan

Still a work in progress. Sweeping changes to Houston’s bus system are on pace for approval later this month, though some features of the new routes and schedules will be a work in progress. Five so-called “flex zones” planned in areas where ridership is low but service is crucial will undergo further study and another […]

Rearranging the traffic

Not sure how much of an effect this will have. Among the 200,000 motorists who traverse Interstate 45 just south of downtown every day, a fair number find themselves weaving frantically from lane to lane as they approach the connection with U.S. 59. State transportation officials hope to reduce the stress felt by these drivers, […]

UberASSIST and UberACCESS

As I’m sure you recall, access for the disabled was a major point of debate in the vehicles for hire saga. There was a lawsuit filed by a coalition of Texas disability advocates against Uber and Lyft over their lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. I have wondered more than once how […]

The trouble with the Southwest Freeway

I think the problem is easy enough to identify. The solution is another matter. Houston-area transportation planners are considering some novel strategies – at least for Texas – for managing traffic to ease congestion on U.S. 59 between downtown Houston and the Sam Houston Tollway. Among the steps that may be considered are clearing accidents […]

A bike lane to connect to bike trails

Makes sense. Houston may get its first protected on-street bike route as early as October, as city officials prepare to convert a lane of Lamar Street downtown into a two-way cycling path connecting the popular Buffalo Bayou trails west of downtown to Discovery Green and points east. The nearly three-quarter-mile connector, from the east end […]

No taller billboards

Fine by me. Texas highway officials are shelving a proposal to increase the permissible height for roadside billboards in suburban and rural areas, citing conflicting facts and a deluge of public criticism. [...] “It was obvious that Texans care greatly about our visual environment and take pride in the ongoing efforts to improve the traveling […]

No one gets to dictate that the Uptown line must be BRT forever

So as we know, the Uptown line is moving ahead as BRT. It will be paid for with a variety of funds, coming from the city, from an Uptown/Memorial TIRZ, from grants, and so forth. A key component of this is an HOV lane on 610 for the buses that will carry the passengers for […]

The limits of lobbying

They do exist, as Houston’s cab companies recently discovered. More than a year of intense lobbying by established cab companies and tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to City Council members were not enough to hold off a pair of upstart tech-taxi firms that now can operate legally in Houston. In the end, […]

Some Republicans really want to make Uber a partisan thing

A little adorable, and a little desperate. Uber hired political strategist David Plouffe this week to run what amounts to a national political campaign against the taxi industry. Ostensibly, this is a fight between large taxi medallion investors and a multi-billion dollar tech startup, between cab companies and everyday Uber drivers, between entrenched power and […]

Bringing commuter rail into downtown

From The Highwayman: As has been reported, the Gulf Coast Rail District is studying the best possible routes for commuter rail in the Houston area, and one of the biggest challenges is bringing the trains into downtown. From the looks of the initial analysis of the U.S. 290 corridor, the trip to the central business […]

Financing the high speed rail line

A long story in the Trib about Texas Central High-Speed Railway and its ambitious Dallas to Houston rail line. It’s a good primer if you haven’t been paying close attention to the story and want to cover all the basics. A couple of points: Central Japan Railway Co., also known as J.R. Central, sees a […]

San Antonio will take its time on Uber and Lyft

As was the case in Houston, San Antonio City Council is in no rush to take action on updating their vehicles for hire ordinances to deal with Uber and Lyft. After an emotional and colorful Citizens to be Heard session, the City Council Public Safety Committee unanimously agreed to hold-off on sending a staff-recommended ordinance […]

Uber and Lyft go prank calling each other

I find this pretty funny, in a juvenile-delinquent sort of way. Uber employees have ordered and canceled more than 5,000 rides from rival Lyft since last October, according to new data provided by Lyft. The data was obtained at CNNMoney’s request when reporting another story on the companies’ competition. It’s the latest in a pattern […]

TxDOT to spur research on driverless cars

Among other things. The state could fund research into self-driving cars, jet packs and hover cars if a new proposal by the Texas Department of Transportation is funded. In a presentation Thursday to the Texas Transportation Commission, TxDOT Deputy Executive Director John Barton said the agency plans to begin working with universities around the state […]

Council approves vehicles for hire overhaul

At long last. Technology companies that have unapologetically disrupted vehicle-for-hire markets in cities across the country will be able to operate legally in Houston after City Council on Wednesday ended 16 months of wrangling by approving new rules. Council voted 10 to 5, with two absent, to open the heavily regulated paid ride market in […]

Biking in Dallas

They’re pretty far behind other Texas cities in infrastructure and general bike-ability. City leaders, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, are eager to boost Big D’s cycling options — and soon. They’re looking at everything from more bike lanes to off-street trails, from bike-sharing programs to raising awareness about how bikes and cars should share the road. […]

Council approves funds for Harrisburg Line overpass

Progress! The City Council is set to decide Wednesday whether to give Metro $10 million to accommodate traffic as well as trains on a controversial overpass the transit agency plans to build along its Green Line light rail route. The council delayed action on the matter for 30 days last month at Mayor Annise Parker’s […]

One more week till vehicles for hire

You didn’t expect Council to vote on it so quickly, did you? They’ll get to it next week. The proposed changes would place specific requirements on the independent drivers and the technology companies, which connect drivers willing to ferry people around with people looking for a ride. The companies must acquire permits to operate in […]

Checking in on Uber and Lyft in San Antonio

San Antonio City Council will soon be taking up with vehicles for hire issue, and so far things have gone about as smoothly as you’d expect. A proposal from City staff to integrate rideshare companies into the existing Vehicle for Hire Ordinance, and therefore legalizing rideshare operations in San Antonio, was met with unanimous opposition […]

Please watch out for the trains

Seriously, people. Three MetroRail collisions this week highlight persistent safety concerns that arise when trains share the road with cars – a problem that Metro officials hope to control as they prepare to open two new rail lines. The Metropolitan Transit Authority has experienced a relatively high number of accidents in its decade running light […]

Will we finally get a vote on vehicles for hire this week?

Remember last month when Council was supposed to vote on a vehicles for hire ordinance change to allow Uber and Lyft to operate here in some fashion? It was put off till July 30 to allow for some form of “consensus” to emerge among the stakeholders. How’s that going? Slowly, it would seem. At least […]

Commuter rail status

There’s still a push for commuter rail in Houston. With freight trains on Houston area tracks teeming with cargo, supporters of commuter rail to the suburbs are focusing on three spots where they can potentially build their own lines for passengers. The Gulf Coast Rail District – created in part to find a way to […]

Another lawsuit against Uber and Lyft

That’s three lawsuits that I know of. A coalition of Texas disability advocates sued ride-share companies Uber and Lyft on Thursday as part of dozens of lawsuits filed around the state ahead of the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Uber and Lyft are up and coming in terms of transportation companies, and they […]

Three Uber stories

We’re still waiting for Council to take action on vehicles for hire, so here’s some more reading on the subject to keep you up to date on what’s happening elsewhere. Wonkblog: Are Uber and Lyft responsible for reducing DUIs? Wonkblog: Uber is tapping into the too-drunk-to-drive market, user data suggest A question asked and then […]

Southeast and Harrisburg rail line openings pushed back

Well, at least it’s still in 2014. THERE’S STILL “some uncertainty” over the exact schedule, but all the pieces needed to allow Metro to open Houston’s second and third light-rail lines won’t be in place until late December, according to reports delivered to a committee of the transportation organization’s board of directors last Friday. Previously, […]

SH 130 operator in default

But it’s not default-default just yet. Although the company that built and operates the southern leg of the Texas 130 toll road recently managed to work out a payment extension with its lenders, an investor service that monitors the project still considers it in default. Moody’s Investor Service issued a report last week, saying SH […]