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Posts under ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’

Your daily Uber/Lyft update

From the Tuesday Council committee hearing at which the draft ordinance was reviewed. Despite having a newly-released draft ordinance in hand, City Council members spent a Tuesday committee hearing asking many of the same questions about regulating ride-sharing services as they did months ago. Echoing concerns raised by taxi and limousine companies, council members grilled […]

Draft ordinance on vehicles for hire is out

Mayor Parker puts another item on City Council’s to do list. A proposed Houston ordinance could legalize hundreds of for-hire drivers providing rides through smartphone applications, but would require those drivers meet the same permitting and safety requirements as taxicab and limousine drivers already regulated by the city. Under the proposal by the city’s Department […]

No restraining order against Uber and Lyft

The ridesharing services in Houston and San Antonio can continue to operate, at least for now. A federal judge Monday declined to issue a temporary restraining order sought by Houston and San Antonio cab companies hoping to block ride-sharing services that permit riders to use smart phone applications to catch rides. Houston-based U.S. District Judge […]

East Enders want the underpass

We’re talking about the long-debated Harrisburg rail line extension, for which three residents of the East End took to the Chron op-ed pages to make their case for their preferred solution. East End residents worked for years with Metro to work out a solution for the light rail to cross the “east belt” heavy-rail trunk […]

Uber goes rogue

That sound you hear is me shaking my head. At least one ride-sharing company has decided to openly defy city law that bans its unlicensed drivers from charging for rides. While a few free-ride promotions remain ongoing, Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian confirmed Tuesday that the service, which connects interested riders with willing drivers via smartphone […]

Uptown BRT update

From Swamplot: HERE ARE SOME of the purty watercolor renderings the Uptown District has been presenting of what Post Oak Blvd. will look like after the addition of 2 dedicated bus lanes down its middle. The proposed changes to the thoroughfare won’t take away any of the 6 existing car lanes or 13 existing left-turn-signal […]

Taxi companies file suit against Uber and Lyft

Color me skeptical. Taxi companies in Houston and San Antonio took their turf war with two online companies to federal court Tuesday, saying Uber and Lyft are operating illegally and skimming money from taxi firms that abide by the law. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court in Houston, asks a federal judge to declare […]

The rideshare battles continue

From Houston: The issue came up at yesterday’s council meeting and Mayor Annise Parker said that undercover Houston police sting operations have resulted in 26 citations for Uber and Lyft drivers. They were likely, misdemeanor violations for operating an illegal taxi. The mayor’s remark was in reply to testimony from Duane Kamins, a partner, along […]

The Mayors opine for high speed rail

They pen an editorial in its favor. We are proud to be mayors of three of the largest and fastest-growing cities in America. Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston have weathered the recent economic downturn and are now the engines powering our state’s tremendous job growth. While we celebrate the individual successes of our respective cities, […]

A bumpy ride for Lyft in San Antonio

Ride sharing service Lyft has made its move into San Antonio, where much like it did in Houston it is offering free rides while regulatory issues are negotiated. Unlike Houston, the official reception they got was distinctly unfriendly. Less than a week after the ride-sharing service Lyft launched in San Antonio, the city’s police chief […]

When are we getting those trains again?

The Metro board has some doubts about railcar manufacturer CAF’s ability to keep its promises. Houston transit officials, worried that the light rail system might run short of trains for months after two new lines open, are not satisfied with a new schedule for delivery of delayed rail cars. Metropolitan Transit Authority officials expressed deep […]

The Mayors love high speed rail

As well they should. The mayors of Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth announced Thursday their unified support for the construction of a privately funded bullet train between the two metropolitan regions. “If successful, Houstonians will have a reliable, private alternative that will help alleviate traffic congestion and drastically reduce travel times,” Houston Mayor Annise Parker […]

Zipcar expands in Houston

Very cool. A car-sharing service on Wednesday expanded from spots on the Rice University campus to other locations in Houston, providing city residents with another option for transportation. Zipcar is making available 25 vehicles in 10 different locations in Houston including the downtown area, Mid-town, Greenway Plaza, and Upper Kirby. “We want the locations to […]

Goal Zero Fatalities plan for bikes adopted

From the Mayor’s office: Mayor Annise Parker today announced the City and BikeHouston are joining forces to launch a major bike safety campaign to enforce and educate motorists and cyclists about the existing Safe Passing Ordinance, as well as create a Bicycle Master Plan for the City. “As the name of this program implies, the […]

Park and Ride parking

I have no problem with this. Park and ride buses are among the cheapest options for suburban commuters who work downtown, in part because Metro provides free parking. But just as new highways increasingly require drivers to pay tolls, officials are considering changes to the park and ride system that would shift more costs to […]

The Seattle approach to Uber and Lyft

While we wait in Houston for City Council to take action on amending the taxi and limousine codes to deal with the entry of Uber and Lyft, the city of Seattle took a novel approach to the issue. In a major victory for the city’s taxi cab drivers, the Seattle City Council voted Monday to […]

Lyft has some stumbles

Oops. Lyft, known for its pink mustaches, has again been caught red-handed in Houston breaking a basic driving law. A driver for the company, which pairs riders with drivers via smartphone app, picked up a Houston investigator Monday and was cited for operating an illegal taxi service because the passenger was charged for the ride. […]

Transit ridership up nationally

Some encouraging news here. More Americans used buses, trains and subways in 2013 than in any year since 1956 as service improved, local economies grew and travelers increasingly sought alternatives to the automobile for trips within metropolitan areas, the American Public Transportation Association said in a report released on Monday. The trade group said in […]

Metro reports an increase in boardings with bikes

From the inbox: The number of people using bikes to extend their bus trips (or vice versa) increased more than 47 percent jumping from 12,111 bike bus boardings in January 2013 to 17,859 in January this year, That’s according to METRO figures which do not account for bikes taken onto light-rail trains. At the METRO […]

We’ll get our new trains in January

We have a deadline. The company building Metro’s new trains will deliver the final car to Houston five months late, according to a revised schedule submitted to the transit agency. The Metropolitan Transit Authority is reviewing the schedule, spokesman Jerome Gray said, and hasn’t agreed to the new timeline. The revision was one of the  […]

Good news and bad news on the Washington Avenue parking benefit district

As you may recall, a bit more than a year ago Council approved a plan to create a “parking benefit district” for the Washington Avenue corridor, which is a fancy way of saying they approved the installation of parking meters whose revenue would then be used to help pay for infrastructure improvements in the area, […]

City to Uber: Enough with the emails already

So this happened. The battle over Houston’s taxi rules moved Thursday from the streets to cyberspace, reflecting ongoing tension between an aggressive newcomer and a city government determined to proceed cautiously. Thousands of email messages urging elected leaders to allow the ridesharing service Uber into Houston slowed city servers and led City Attorney David Feldman […]

Cab companies push back on Uber/Lyft

The first Council action on updating the taxi and limo codes to accommodate Uber and Lyft went about as you’d expect. Houston City Council members struggled Tuesday to strike a balance between ensuring paid rides in Houston are available to everyone and encouraging competition from new firms that say they can provide faster service. Speakers […]

More on the Lyft and Uber entrances

It’s a new day in Houston for people who need a ride. Brian Walts was out until about 3 a.m. Friday hitting the clubs, but he didn’t have a single drink or set foot on a dance floor. Rather, he was driving two gents home from the Washington Avenue area for free, hoping that by […]

And here comes UberX

I mentioned this in passing yesterday, but UberX, which is Uber’s ride share service, similar in nature to that of Lyft, is now in Houston as well. Free rides suddenly became available in Houston on Thursday night as two online companies clamored for attention before they officially break into the city’s cab market. Uber, which […]

Leaning towards the over

Metro is working on a solution to the Harrisburg Line over/underpass problem. “We want the community involved and for this to be as open and honest as possible,” [Metro Board Chair Gilbert] Garcia said. Before Metro makes a decision, Garcia said, he wanted residents to have a better sense of the problem. Leaking gasoline tanks […]

Lyft gets set to lift off in Houston

Another option for getting a ride. Prepare to see see pink-mustachioed cars roaming around the city as San Francisco-based car sharing company Lyft launches in Houston on Friday. Lyft is an app-based service that allows anyone to register as a driver and use their own car to make money by giving other people a ride. […]

Metro reports good first month North Line numbers

Off to a fine start. In its first month of operation, the Red/North Line extension exceeded ridership projections by 62 percent. METRO launched its 5.3-mile extension of the Red/North Line last Dec. 21 – extending the line from HCC-Downtown Station eight more stops to Northline Transit Center/HCC. In January, the first full month of operation, […]

Is it all over for the Harrisburg Line underpass?

Despite earlier agreement between Metro, residents, and the city to build an underpass for the far end of the Harrisburg line, it’s not looking too good for that option right now. Residents of Houston’s East End supported a 2003 transit referendum that included a light rail line through their neighborhood, but they balked six years […]

Get ready for the taxis and Uber debate

Here’s the first challenge for the new Council. City officials, armed with a new study showing weaknesses in the local system, are inching toward regulatory changes that would open Houston’s cab industry to new players, such as Uber, which enables customers to schedule trips with a smartphone application, bypassing much of a traditional taxi company’s […]

More on TxDOT and high speed rail

First come the studies and the public hearings. Then we wait and see what happens. The Texas Transportation Commission is expected to vote Thursday at its monthly meeting on the creation of a high-speed rail commission focused on the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Separately, TxDOT is holding a series of public meetings around Texas and Oklahoma, […]

Culberson says he’s killed the University Line

And maybe he has, though it wasn’t going anywhere at this time anyway. Residents and business owners along Richmond Avenue are breathing a sigh of relief — at least for now — as U.S. Rep. John Culberson has had his way, quashing federal funding for light-rail along Richmond, west of Shepherd, and on Post Oak […]

“Go, Texans” OK’ed

Well, that‘s a relief. County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez’s quest to ban “Go Texans” and other messages from Metro’s digital bus marquees has ended unsuccessfully with a pass from the Federal Transportation Administration and a scathing letter from the Metro board chairman. Last fall, Sanchez asked the federal agency and the Harris County Attorney’s office to […]

US-Mexico high speed rail?

What goes north can also go south. A high-speed rail line connecting San Antonio and Monterrey, Mexico, could be less than a decade away from welcoming its first passengers, according to federal and Texas officials who met with Mexican officials in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to discuss the project. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-San Antonio, […]