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Posts under ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’

Driverless taxis debut in Singapore

Not fast enough, Uber. The world’s first self-driving taxis will be picking up passengers in Singapore starting Thursday. Select members of the public will be able to hail a free ride through their smartphones in taxis operated by nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software startup. While multiple companies, including Google and Volvo, have been testing self-driving […]

Driverless Ubers

Ready or not, here they come. The option to hail a ride in a self-driving car, which was science fiction just a few years ago, will soon be available to Uber users in Pittsburgh, the first time the technology has been offered to the general public. Within weeks, the company announced Thursday, customers will be […]

SH 130 operator to give up its ownership stake

Another step on the road to bankruptcy. SH 130 Concession Co. filed a bankruptcy reorganization plan Friday that proposes transferring company ownership to its largest lenders, which include the Federal Highway Administration and a group of European banks. The company owes more than $1.6 billion. It is owned by Spanish road developer Cintra, the majority […]

New study questions Uber effect on DUI

Interesting. The introduction of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft hasn’t had any impact on the number of fatalities related to drunken driving, a newly published study finds. Researchers at the University of Southern California and Oxford University looked at the 100 most populated metropolitan areas, analyzing data from before and after the introduction […]

Metro celebrates ridership increase one year after new bus network rollout

Leah Binkovitz reports. From September 2015 (the first full month after the switch was implemented) to July 2016 (the most recent complete month), METRO saw its ridership on local bus and light-rail add an additional 4.5 million boardings — a 6.8 percent increase. The numbers are more modest when looking at local bus ridership alone, […]

Land acquisition for the high speed rail line

It’s going great, according to the CEO of Texas Central High Speed Railway. Realty News Report: When will Texas’ first high-speed passenger railway between Dallas and Houston actually begin service? Tim B. Keith: We expect to begin construction on the nation’s first truly high-speed train system as early as next year. We expect that construction […]

El Paso revises its rideshare rules

Uber gets its preferred regimen. The El Paso City Council approved an ordinance designed to ease regulations and fees on taxis and ride-sharing companies like Uber. Amendments to the Transportation for Hire Ordinance, which Council approved unanimously on Tuesday, requires all businesses have an operating authority permit and drivers pass a background check. It will […]

Grimes County takes its own steps against Texas Central

Another day, another obstacle. In a rebuke of a private firm’s plans to build a bullet train between Houston and Dallas, local officials in rural southeastern Texas moved Tuesday to restrict high-speed rail development in their corner of the state. Grimes County commissioners voted unanimously to require high-speed rail developers to acquire a permit and […]

RIP, Lone Star Rail

This really does appear to be the end of the line. On a 17-1 vote late Monday, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization board decided to kick off a two-month process to remove from its official 25-year transportation plan the proposed 117-mile rail line from San Antonio to Georgetown. A final vote will have to […]

Harrisburg overpass nearing completion

Hallelujah. Six months ago, Harrisburg Boulevard looked almost exactly as it has for more than five years, dotted by construction equipment. East of downtown Houston, the thoroughfare was more exposed dirt than street, and showed little sign of the rail overpass transit officials promised eastside residents. With no span in sight, residents – not to […]

The southern segment of the proposed Oklahoma City-South Texas passenger rail line

There’s more to it than connecting San Antonio with Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth. Two potential South Texas routes were selected for further study, according to [Rep. Henry] Cuellar. The first would originate in San Antonio and travel south outside of existing transportation corridors to a station near the Laredo-Columbia Solidarity Bridge. That route would then […]

More on commuter rail to Fort Bend

The Chron picks up the ball. In a blog post for Off the Kuff, a local progressive politics blog, former Fort Bend Democratic Party chairman Steve Brown said now is the time for local officials to form a commuter rail district. Under state law, the district, if formed, could work with Metro to develop the […]

Metro rider satisfaction

Not too bad. The recently released study by advocacy organization TransitCenter, which details attitudes about public transit nationwide, generally offers good news for METRO Houston. The Urban Edge requested Houston-specific data from the TransitCenter’s national survey of transit passengers. Roughly 76 percent of Houston respondents were somewhat or very satisfied with the frequency of METRO’s service, including bus and […]

How about a commuter hyperloop?

This sure sounds interesting. Navigating right-of-way for land development can be like drawing blood from fiercely independent landowners. But a San Antonio technology startup is banking that it has cracked the code to prying some surface rights from Texans by borrowing a concept familiar to them — royalties, not eminent domain. Oil and gas companies […]

Steve Brown: Why we need the US90A rail line

(Note: From time to time I solicit guest posts on various topics, from people who have a particular interest or expertise in a particular topic. Today’s post is by Steve Brown, on the newly revived US90A commuter rail line.) In May 2015, Metro began operating two light rail lines serving the East End and Southeast […]

Expect Texas Central to be a target in the Legislature

It’s sure to draw a lot of proposed legislation, now that the Surface Transportation Board (STB) has declined to get involved at this time. “We were glad the STB ruled as quickly as they did because that allows us to set the path forward and if they had any uncertainty it could have impacted the […]

Metro revives US90A commuter rail line

The possibility of it, anyway. No promises or commitments at this time. Metropolitan Transit Authority board members on Thursday approved a resolution authorizing transit officials to “place” the project in the “Federal Transit Administration process” and look for ways to pay for it. When officials essentially placed the project on inactive status in September 2012 […]

Feds leave oversight of Texas Central to the state

No change in status. A proposed high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas will remain a mostly Texas matter following a federal decision which opponents cheered as a blow to the project, while backers said provided a definitive scope of the planning process. The Surface Transportation Board on Monday determined it has no oversight of […]

Alignments proposed for Oklahoma City-South Texas passenger rail

Check ’em out. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) have released 10 service and route options for new and improved conventional and high-speed passenger rail service connecting Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and South Texas.  The options are evaluated in a Draft […]

Potholing

The city’s pothole repair program seems to be going well. Faster response by city crews to resident-reported potholes has saved thousands of drivers a bumpier ride around Houston the past six months, though officials warn there’s a long way to go before local streets are smooth driving. Since Mayor Sylvester Turner announced on Jan. 4 […]

Main Street Line having on-time issues

Not good. Poor on-time trends for Metro trains are costing riders time along the city’s most heavily-used transit route, and potentially leading some to consider other options for trips, a transit agency board member said Wednesday. “I think we are losing ridership to this,” said Christof Spieler, during a Metropolitan Transit Authority committee meeting. While […]

iCars

Hey, look, it’s a new rideshare option for Houston. A new ride app promises on-demand luxury car services — and no surge pricing. San Francisco-based iCars put its luxury ride app in drive for the Houston and Dallas markets, as the company continues to expand throughout Texas and the U.S., according to a July 11 […]

What makes transit successful?

It’s pretty basic, as this report lays out. A new report released [Tuesday] by TransitCenter, a foundation dedicated to improving urban mobility, finds that developing transit in walkable areas and offering frequent, fast bus and rail service is the key to increasing urban transit ridership. The report, “Who’s on Board 2016: What Today’s Riders Teach […]

Get ready to fly to Cuba

You’ll be able to get there from Houston in a few months. A new weekly flight from Bush Intercontinental Airport to Havana was announced Thursday as part of the government’s historic effort to unwind more than 50 years of political tensions, family divisions, trade embargoes and travel restrictions with Cuba. The United Airlines flight, tentatively […]

Harrisburg overpass update

Progress. Right now the East End light rail line stops a few blocks short of the Magnolia Transit Center on Harrisburg. Metro was going to build an underpass at the Hughes Street railroad crossing, but cancelled those plans because of worries over contaminated soil. The agency is now putting the finishing touches on a new overpass that […]

I-45 onramp closures coming

From the inbox: The Texas Department of Transportation will close the Houston Avenue southbound and Allen Parkway eastbound entrance ramps to I-45 southbound on Friday, July 8 to begin construction on new ramps that will improve traffic flow and enhance safety. Currently, motorists trying to reach I-45 southbound main lanes from Allen Parkway eastbound have […]

Fort Worth adopts minimalist rideshare regulations

This ought to be interesting. Months of work redrafting the city’s vehicle-for-hire ordinance wrapped up Tuesday night when the Fort Worth Council approved new rules that require transportation companies only to register with the city. The approach chosen by Fort Worth avoids more onerous regulations — including requirements for fingerprinting drivers — that proved problematic […]

Uptown BRT will be ready in 2019

A little later than originally expected. Construction might be set to start soon on dedicated bus lanes down Post Oak through the Uptown area, but the latest projections don’t have riders on the lanes for nearly three years. Despite earlier estimates to open the lanes in 2018, which Uptown Management District President John Breeding said […]

Still waiting for a design for I-45

Pull up a chair and relax, this could take awhile. After 15 years of discussion, study and ideas for improvements ranging from enormous tunnels to a massive circulating freeway loop, planners are still at least six months from unveiling their $7 billion plan for historic changes to I-45 and most of the downtown freeway network. […]

City bike plan finalized

Here it comes. Bicycling advocates – fresh off finalizing a plan for Houston’s bike future – face the challenge of getting formal city approval of their ideas as they incrementally piece together what could be a $500 million investment. Changing attitudes, however, have proponents optimistic that most if not all of the 1,800 miles of […]

Rep. Isaac asks FTC to step in on Austin rideshare regulations

Seriously? State Rep. Jason Isaac has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Austin’s rules for ride-hailing companies, raising concerns that the city’s “burdensome regulations” are anti-competitive. In the letter dated June 7, Isaac said he thought the city “erected a pernicious barrier to competition” through its rules, which have become a point of contention […]

The latest attempt to kill the Uptown BRT line

Whatever. “See this right turn lane filled up?” asked consultant Wayne Dolcefino to about a dozen angry Uptown residents, standing along Post Oak Boulevard near the intersection with San Felipe Street on Monday morning. “That’s going away. The right lane at Westheimer? That’s going away too.” A woman’s jaw dropped, as though what Docefino said […]

Another lawsuit filed over Prop 1 ballot language in Austin

Sure, why not? It’s Uber Zimmerman! Litigious District 6 Councilman Don Zimmerman sued Mayor Steve Adler in his official capacity Thursday, challenging the outcome of the Proposition 1 election on the grounds the ballot language “misled voters and omitted main features” and did not conform to the required format, case caption information shows. A copy […]

AG opinion sought on eminent domain power for Texas Central

This could be a big deal. State Rep. Byron Cook asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday to rule on whether a private company developing a high-speed train project in the state has the power of eminent domain. Texas Central Partners has been developing a privately funded bullet train intended to travel between Houston […]