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Posts under ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’

One way to lower speed limits

Purple City makes an interesting observation. One of the quieter actions of the late Parker administration has been to slowly alter speed limits from 35 or 40mph to 30mph. These reductions aren’t based on an engineering study or field measurements, but on a creative interpretation of state law. Texas sets the default urban speed limit […]

Metro writes off old light rail studies

What might have been. Houston transit officials Thursday wrote off $104 million wasted on multiple studies related to the controversial University and Uptown light rail projects that ultimately stalled due to a lack of funding and fierce opposition from the neighborhoods they would impact. The studies for the two lines, which were approved by voters […]

Uber and Lyft for the San Antonio suburbs

If the rules in the big city aren’t amenable, maybe the rules in the smaller nearby cities will be. San Antonio’s new rules for rideshare companies go into effect April 1 and controversy over the regulation of transportation network companies (TNCs) continues as Uber and Lyft prepare to leave San Antonio. Company representatives say the […]

Metro board seeks to expand

It’s change that has been anticipated since the 2010 Census data was released. With all indications pointing to more people in the Metropolitan Transit Authority service area living outside Houston than inside the city, Metro officials are asking to accelerate a state-mandated expansion of the transit agency’s board. The change would mean more members appointed […]

On Uber and DWI

This was from a few weeks ago, and I just hadn’t gotten around to finishing the draft post I’d started till now. The entrance of app-based transportation companies in American cities decreases the likelihood that people living there drive drunk, according to a survey commissioned by car-for-hire firm Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The […]

Overpass groundbreaking

Progress. After years of conflict among community members and leaders, construction of Metro’s new Harrisburg overpass is officially underway in Houston’s East End. “It’s not just a bridge; it’s going to be a landmark in the city,” Metropolitan Transit Authority board member Diann Lewter said at a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday. […] City Council member Robert […]

Taxi companies federal lawsuit against Uber and Lyft can proceed

Part of it, anyway. Taxi companies in Houston and San Antonio that took their turf war with two online companies to federal court by accusing Uber and Lyft of operating illegally and skimming money from cab firms can continue pursuing their lawsuit, a U.S. district court judge in Houston ruled this week. U.S. District Judge […]

Vehicle registration renewal error notice

The following is a public service announcement. From the inbox: 320,000 Texas Drivers Receive Error in Renewal Notice Mike Sullivan wants to ensure Harris County drivers are aware of issue Tax Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan wants to ensure Harris County drivers are aware of the issue concerning their vehicle registration notice. According to the Texas Department […]

Uber’s lobbying efforts

Cry havoc, and let slip the lobbyists of, um, lobbying! After spending months securing a spot on Houston’s roadways, Uber is stepping on the gas in Austin: hiring at least 23 lobbyists and paying them as much as $700,000 to make sure its on-demand ride service gets favorable treatment in the Legislature, according to records […]

An Uptown BRT skeptic

Here’s one guy who doesn’t like the idea. Ridership models developed by the Uptown TIRZ board project that the new bus route will carry 10,000 riders per day in 2018. This estimate is outrageously inflated, given that the more than 30-year-old Park & Ride system only carries 16,000 riders per day, most of whom are […]

Revised SA vehicles for hire ordinance not good enough for Uber

That would be a nope. With an impending council decision, efforts by the city to revise its vehicles-for-hire ordinance to convince the ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber to remain in San Antonio appear to have only left both sides in the fight dissatisfied. The San Antonio City Council is scheduled to vote [today] on city […]

One sticker for all has begun

Hope it wasn’t too confusing for you if you had to deal with it this week. On Monday – the first full day under the new system for registering cars, trucks, trailers and motorcycles in Texas – drivers trying to abide by the new law faced frustration as misunderstandings and a computer glitch led to […]

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 […]