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Posts under ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’

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 […]

Bikes on buses update

Keeps going up. More METRO bus rides are bringing along their bicycles to complete their trip and get from point A to point B. In June, the number of bikes on buses hit a record 21,941, a 32 percent increase over June a year ago. For the first nine months of this fiscal year (Oct. […]

More on the partisan lines of the Uber fight

From Wonkblog, another interesting look at how the fight over the so-called “sharing economy”, in particular transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, is playing out nationally. In its short life, however, the sharing economy has seldom reflected a clear schism between Republicans and Democrats — an argument Grover Norquist tries to make today in […]

The wheels on the bus go round and round, even in The Woodlands

Welcome to the wonderful world of transit. With help from regional officials, The Woodlands is entering the bus business, a decision that might give south Montgomery County commuters more options down the road. Population gains pushed the Woodlands-Conroe area from a “small urban area” to a “large urbanized area” of 230,000 residents for the 2010 […]

B-Cycle keeps racking up good numbers

Great to see. From meager beginnings, Houston’s bikesharing program has blossomed into a big draw for visitors and locals looking for a quick ride. For the first six months of 2014, Houston B-Cycle logged 43,530 checkouts, according to agency data. The system had about 2,000 checkouts in all of 2012, the year it started with […]

How to solve the traffic problems of The Woodlands

All that growth has its downsides. The Houston-Galveston Area Council, along with local entities including The Woodlands, Montgomery County, the City of Oak Ridge North and the Texas Department of Transportation, are working on a South Montgomery Mobility Study that they hope will ultimately ease the woes of commuters. Officials say they realize there are […]

The Dallas and Houston rail experiences

It’s useful to compare, but mostly as an academic exercise. The new Dallas Area Rapid Transit line links riders to the region’s major airport. Houston’s new Purple and Green lines, years in the making, come up far short of what’s been laid in the Dallas area, but they open up rail to new parts of […]

Maglev pods in the sky

And now for something completely different. skyTran, Inc., headquartered at the NASA Research Park (NRP) near Mountain View, California, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a company headquartered in Lod, Israel, entered into an agreement today for the construction of a skyTran Technology Demonstration System (TDS) on the grounds of IAI’s corporate campus. The agreement was […]

Uber is working hard to make itself unlikeable

It’s almost as if it’s a deliberate part of their business plan. “We’re in a political campaign, and the candidate is Uber, and the opponent is an asshole named Taxi,” Travis Kalanick, the CEO of ride-sharing company Uber, said while on stage at a conference in late May. “Nobody likes him, he’s not a nice […]

A lesser overpass

I’m not very happy with this. A City Council delay in contributing funds for a contentious East End overpass will likely lead Metro back to build a span only for its light rail line and not drivers, and without some of the attributes transit officials and some nearby residents said they wanted. [...] The delay […]