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Posts under ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’

System reimagining is hard work

Jarrett Walker, who consulted with Metro on bus system reimagining, wants you to know that it was harder than it looked. These no-new-resources restructurings always involve cutting some low-ridership services to add higher-ridership ones, and these can be incredibly painful decisions for boards, civic leaders, and transit managements. Civic officials can come out looking better […]

Transportation Commission approves funds for Uptown BRT

Finally. Dedicated bus lanes along Loop 610 remain a part of planned transit service in the Uptown area after state officials kept $25 million allocated to an upcoming project. After months of discussions about the project’s purpose and agreements between the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Texas Department of Transportation, state transportation commissioners Thursday approved […]

Bill filed to kill high speed rail line

Given all that’s been going on lately, I suppose this was inevitable. A lawmaker whose district sits near the proposed route for a planned bullet train connecting Houston and Dallas filed a bill Wednesday that could stop the project in its tracks. House Bill 1889 from state Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe, a persistent critic of […]

More on San Antonio’s vehicles for hire re-try

There are multiple issues to be resolved. Uber and Lyft representatives are cautiously optimistic about what will come out of the small group of City officials that continue to work on a rideshare ordinance that softens the regulatory blow to rideshare companies and their drivers. The revised ordinance is expected to be discussed in a […]

Uptown needs bikes

So says this op-ed. Always susceptible to gridlock, especially at Christmastime, the traffic jams now happen year-round and last longer each day. Clearly, Uptown badly needs convenient, reliable alternatives to cars for the tens of thousands of workers and residents who live, work and shop in the area, the largest business district in the nation […]

Metro’s new rail station

Houston Central Station is finally open, though in a much less impressive form than it might have been. Houston’s first new rail station in nearly 14 months [opened] Wednesday, but it won’t serve its main purpose – connecting riders on multiple lines – until Metro overcomes persistent delays in expanding its service. Central Station Main, […]

San Antonio may try again on vehicles for hire

Very interesting. Key players at City Hall are crafting an eleventh-hour amended ordinance to stop Uber from leaving San Antonio, 10 days after the rideshare company announced plans to end service here if one of the nation’s most restrictive ordinances goes into effect on March 1. The ordinance passed by Council in December, say supporters […]

Texas Central chooses a corridor

We have a single preferred route for the Houston to Dallas high speed rail line. Texas Central High-Speed Railway (TCR) today informed the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that it recommends narrowing the consideration of potential high-speed rail corridors between Houston and Dallas to a single preferred corridor known generally as the Utility Corridor. TCR has […]

Another I-45 public meeting should be scheduled soon

From Jim Weston of the I-45 Coalition: TxDOT will soon be holding another public meeting! TxDOT has been working for years to come up with a plan to ‘relieve’ the congestion on I-45. After several years, TxDOT is getting closer to come up with a “plan”. The I-45 Coalition is a group of neighborhood volunteers […]

On driving the empty private toll road

Robert Rivard takes a ride on the lonely private toll road SH 130. Let me explain: SH 130, completed in October 2012, runs from an intersection just east of Seguin on I-10 to an intersection just north of Georgetown on I-35, allowing north-south traffic to avoid Austin’s congestion. My wife and I took it in […]

Metro board approves reimagining

On to implementation. Metro’s board gave unanimous, final approval to the so-called reimagining plan, authorizing agency staff to plan public meetings to explain the changes. Between now and August, Metro must replace every sign at every bus stop, revise every bus schedule and prepare a massive educational campaign. “This will be the biggest outreach effort […]

System reimagining time

Big day today, hopefully. A once-in-a-generation change to Houston bus service – shifting from a downtown-focused, hub-and-spoke design to a broader network reflecting new ways people move around – could receive final approval by Metro’s board Wednesday. Officials say the “reimagining” may represent a make-or-break moment in the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s efforts to boost lagging […]

Opposition to the high speed rail line gets organized

You had to figure something like this was coming. I was recently informed of NoTexasCentral.com, and I’ll let them introduce themselves: Texas Central Railway (TCR), a Japanese funded Texas-based private railroad company, is set to build and operate a high speed train system from Dallas to Houston. With stations slated only at the ends of […]

Uber to leave San Antonio

Not unexpected. Uber management sent a letter to Mayor Ivy Taylor and City Council Wednesday, warning that the rideshare service will leave San Antonio on March 1 unless the recently-passed existing is modified or repealed. Uber representatives say the new ordinances raises “substantial barriers” to ridehsare companies operating in the city. The ordinance was aggressively […]

Sticker reduction coming

From the inbox: Harris County is gearing up for a new Texas Two Step. Beginning March 1, 2015, the state will no longer issue vehicle inspection stickers and will move to a “Two Steps, One Sticker” program. Under the new system, Texas vehicle owners will need to pass inspection prior to renewing their registration. The […]

There’s more than one player in the Texas high speed rail game

Cool. A company that operates France’s national high-speed rail network is exploring possible involvement in Texas bullet trains. “We’re here to listen, learn and evaluate,” Alain Leray, president and chief executive of SNCF America Inc., said Monday during a visit to downtown Fort Worth. Leray and a colleague with SNCF, France’s state-owned railway company, attended […]

First test for flex zones

This is worth watching. Though many Acres Homes dwellings and shops are in disrepair, a community still thrives here. Churches and some well-kept homes anchor corners and dot small, residential streets, all of which dead-end or loop back to Sweetwater. Bus service in Acres Homes has been lackluster for years, some riders said, and the […]

Small fix, big (we hope) effect

This would be nice. Take the entrance ramp from Allen Parkway to southbound Interstate 45. Everyone from drivers to transportation officials knows it is a problem. “At this location there are entrance ramps from both Memorial Drive and from Allen Parkway which merge onto the freeway on the right and left sides, respectively, at the […]

Uptown BRT lurches forward

One staggering step at a time. After some uncertainty, fears about rail development in Uptown appear less likely to delay a planned express bus project along Post Oak. Metropolitan Transit Authority’s board meets Thursday morning, and is scheduled to discuss progress on the Uptown plan. The addition to their regularly scheduled meeting comes after a […]

A first data point on the Uber/Lyft experience

I’ve been saying since the vehicles for hire saga began that we should circle back in a year or so and review how things have gone. Thanks to an academic study of users’ experiences with Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar in San Francisco, we now have a data point to suggest what we might expect here. […]

From the “Good problems to have” department

Metro will have a few million dollars left over when it is done building the remaining light rail lines. After more than three years of construction, Metro officials estimate $39.9 million of the $900 million awarded by the Federal Transit Administration is left over and unlikely to be spent as work wraps up. Contingencies for […]

Meet your Harrisburg overpass

Looks nice enough. Going to be painful getting to the finished product, though. Metropolitan Transit Authority board members are set to approve a $30.66 million construction contract on the half-mile overpass next week. The overpass is needed to complete the Green Line rail along Harrisburg to the Magnolia Park Transit Center, near Gus Wortham Golf […]

USAA to offer “rideshare” insurance

Noted for future reference. USAA has launched a pilot program in Colorado that gives rideshare drivers the opportunity to sign up for a policy that extends their existing USAA coverage and deductibles and provides enhanced coverage the moment rideshare application is turned on until to the moment they are hired to pick up a customer. […]

Hyperloops

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a hyperloop! Entrepreneur Elon Musk announced Thursday that he wants to build a “test track” for his idea for a futuristic high-speed transportation system called the Hyperloop, adding that Texas is “the leading candidate” to host the track. Musk’s Hyperloop concept involves transporting […]

Say goodbye to some specialty license plates

Nothing lasts forever. Dr. Pepper, the National Wild Turkey Foundation and the Fort Worth Zoo are among 56 groups that will no longer grace the bumpers of Texas cars and trucks unless sales pick up. Under new rules set between the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and My Plates, the company that sells specialty license […]

Safe passing law update

The city of Houston has an ordinance requiring vehicles to give bikes a three-foot buffer on the streets. How much of an effect has it had so far? A law authorizing police to ticket drivers for encroaching on bicyclists and pedestrians has yielded fewer than a dozen citations in the 20 months it has been […]

How does a 25 MPH speed limit for downtown Houston grab you?

Christopher Andrews makes the case in Gray Matters: Does anyone know the speed limit in downtown Houston? Probably not. Casual observation shows speeds there normally range anywhere from gridlock to Gran Prix. I don’t believe there are any speed-limit signs. But there is a speed limit. And no, it’s not “however fast you can drive […]

How about high speed rail plus light rail?

Now here‘s an interesting idea. More than 200 people turned out Thursday to voice their concerns over the proposed track of the High-Speed Rail (HSR) train that would take travelers from Houston to Dallas in 90 minutes. “I think that the HSR is a great solution for inter city travel but I believe it doesn’t […]

A very brief I-45 update

Way at the bottom of this overview of transit projects and milestones for 2015 are these three paragraphs: The freeway project likely to attract the most attention in the Houston area – widening Interstate 45 from the Sam Houston Tollway to the central business district – is years away from construction but will also have […]

Neighborhood Greenways

I really like this idea. Complete Streets means that our local governments prioritize the safety and comfort of all a street’s users regardless of age, ability, or mode of transport. Fixing our streets will be a long-term project, but if we head in the right direction, we will have neighborhoods for our grandchildren to live […]

Still tweaking the reimagining

An updated version of Metro’s reimagined bus network will be out soon. The so-called reimagining plan, which the Metropolitan Transit Authority began studying more than a year ago, touches every bus route in the sprawling Houston-area system. Changes will take effect in June, with Metro planning some early testing of new services and a massive […]

On streetcars and BRT

Offcite considers some alternatives to light rail. Two new light rail lines set to start service early next year will drastically expand Houston’s rail network, but our city will remain dreadfully underserved by the system. Many neighborhoods seeing a greater density of midrise and townhouse developments will not be reached by rail. The bus system […]

Creating a bike plan for the city

Moving forward. It would be hard to argue that bicycling in Houston is not on the upswing, with many millions of dollars approved and numerous policies passed in recent years, all aimed at welcoming and protecting riders. City planners and cycling advocates see significant gaps in this progress, however, from uncertainty about the kind of […]

Is this the end of the two-car household?

From Streetsblog: While predicting continued global growth in car sales as countries like India and China become more affluent, KPMG’s recent white paper about trends affecting the car industry [PDF] sees different forces at work in the United States. In the U.S., says KPMG, car sharing companies like Zipcar, on-demand car services like Uber, and […]