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Posts under ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’

GetMe waits in the wings

No matter what happens with the rideshare repeal referendum in Austin, there will be at least one vehicle for hire company in the capital city. Early voting is underway in Austin on Proposition 1, where residents will decide which regulations the city should adopt for vehicle-for-hire companies like Uber and Lyft. Both companies have pledged […]

More on the Uber ultimatum

Initial reaction is not terribly receptive. Ride-hailing giant Uber threatened Wednesday to stop operating in Houston unless city leaders amend local regulations the company said are making it tough for them to recruit drivers. The ultimatum, the latest skirmish in what has been a contentious relationship between Uber and the city since it started operating […]

Uber says it will leave Houston if it does not change its fingerprinting requirement

I called it. Uber announced Wednesday that the company plans to cease operations in Houston if the city council does not repeal its existing regulations relating to vehicle-for-hire companies. Houston is one of two cities in the country where Uber continues to operate despite a local requirement that its drivers undergo fingerprint-based background checks. Uber […]

Endorsement watch: Against Prop 1

The Statesman urges a vote against the divisive referendum to repeal Austin’s ordinance regulating transit network companies like Uber and Lyft. Voting against Prop. 1 is the best way to ensure that Lyft, Uber and other ride-hailing service drivers, undergo the most thorough criminal background checks endorsed by law enforcement: fingerprint checks. By contrast, Lyft […]

An outside view on Uber in Houston

The Statesman looks at how Austin’s fight with Uber and Lyft over fingerprint requirements compares with other cities in Texas, including Houston. Officials in Houston said they decided early on that their city, despite having almost 2,500 licensed taxis, could benefit from the emerging ride-hailing industry. So they approached Uber and Lyft a few years […]

Lone Star Rail: Not dead yet

Just a flesh wound, actually. The decision by Union Pacific to end its working relationship with Lone Star Rail District (LSRD) in February, was a blow in efforts to develop a passenger rail line between San Antonio and Austin. But in a special meeting Friday in San Marcos, district directors reaffirmed their commitment to find […]

Get Me goes to Galveston

Swooping in to fill the gap left by Uber’s departure. Galveston is close to getting app-based transportation back. Get Me, a Dallas-based company that started serving Houston in October, has submitted an application with Galveston to provide ride services on the island, city spokeswoman Kala McCain said Monday. Galveston has not had any competition to […]

UberACCESS debuts in Houston

Good to see. A partnership that has helped disabled people connect with a popular ride service launched in Houston at midnight. Uber officials confirmed UberACCESS, which offers wheelchair-accessible rides for the same price as UberX, began service Wednesday. Like all Uber service, it is available via smartphone app, 24 hours a day. “I’m thrilled to […]

Meet the toucan light

The first of its kind in Houston, though maybe not the last. The new traffic signal suspended above Appel at Yale and Seventh is a first for Texas, but also an adjustment for residents – some of whom are unsure of its benefit. Called a toucan, as in “two can go,” the signal gives pedestrians […]

Take transit to the game

If you can, you should. The transformation of downtown from a work place that empties after dark to a true community is finally underway in earnest, with residents, retail shops, and restaurants that remain open long after the lunch rush. The building boom is everywhere, and that includes the area around Minute Maid, which had […]

Lots of money being spent on the Austin Uber/Lyft ordinance referendum

Wow. David Butts, meet Goliath. Campaign finance reports filed Thursday for Austin’s ride-hailing services election show a beyond-massive lead in money for Ridesharing Works for Austin, the Uber- and Lyft-backed political action committee supporting a proposed ordinance that would become law if Proposition 1 passes on May 7. Ridesharing Works reported that between Jan. 1 […]

Uber settles California fingerprints lawsuit

Noted for the record. Ride-hailing company Uber will pay at least $10 million to settle allegations by California prosecutors that it misled passengers about the quality of its driver background checks. The settlement was signed Thursday in San Francisco, where Uber is based and where the district attorney led a lawsuit that said Uber falsely […]

Yale Street Bridge to be closed for construction

Three words: Find alternate routes. There’s about to be a lot of yelling about Yale Street, as the historic span makes way for a modern replacement. Crews will close the bridge carrying the road over White Oak bayou on April 18 to prepare for demolition. For the next 20 months, drivers in the area will […]

Lots of people took the train to the games

Nice. After handling more than a quarter-million rail trips over the four-day NCAA Final Four period, Metro is calling it a slam dunk. “These are numbers are fantastic for us,” spokesman Jerome Gray said. Metro said 255,700 rail boardings occurred from Friday until Monday. That’s roughly 87,000 more for the four days than the system […]

Reimagining public transportation is hard work

Noted for the record. Four years ago, Helsinki launched an innovative bus service as part of a long-term plan to make cars irrelevant. It was called Kutsuplus—Finnish for “call plus.” And it was one of the world’s first attempts to reinvent carpooling for the algorithm age. The service matched passengers who were headed roughly in […]

Japan rules, please

The people behind the proposed high-speed rail line in Texas would like for it to be built under the same rules as existing Japanese high-speed rail lines. Railway operator JR Tokai and an American partner will petition federal regulators to set new rules allowing an ultrahigh-speed line here to be built to Japanese bullet train […]

Gilbert Garcia will be a tough act to follow at Metro

Let me bid an early and fond farewell to outgoing Metro Board Chair Gilbert Garcia. With only weeks to go as chairman of Metro, Gilbert Garcia bounds down the hallway to his transit agency office greeting workers, talking about how much he’ll miss the place. He’s not shy in expressing pride about what he’s leaving […]

Lubbock to consider rideshare ordinance

You know what that means. Uber drivers may soon be required to have background checks and operational permits in the city of Lubbock, a move that in the past has prompted the company to pull out of some Texas cities. Uber is a technology company that provides a mobile phone app connecting riders with drivers. […]

What do you do with a problem like I-10?

From a conversation that Cite Editor Raj Mankad conducted with Andrew Albers and Ernesto Alfaro, who co-teach a survey of landscape architecture at the Rice School of Architecture. Mankad: Let’s come back to I-10 and the failure of its… Alfaro: … hubris … Mankad: … its massive expansion. We talked about designers finding opportunities in […]

More speed bumps coming

Like ’em or not. Houston officials are speeding up the process of slowing down residential street traffic. A laborious process to improve traffic and safety by installing traffic calming devices such as speed humps is radically streamlined in a new method by the city’s public works department, unveiled Monday at a City Council committee meeting. […]

The Purple City plan for I-45

Check it out. Should a major freeway plan consider the needs of cyclists? Of transit riders? And if we’re going to tear down and reconstruct the entire downtown freeway network of the fourth-largest city in America, shouldn’t the final result have better geometry than the mid-century structures it replaces? The PDFs below contain an analysis […]

More Metro appointments for Mayor Turner

The Chron editorial board gets its wish. Mayor Sylvester Turner on Friday named two new Metro board members and reappointed two others – taking a more moderate course than his predecessor, who replaced all five of the city’s appointees. Disability rights advocate Lex Frieden and construction oversight manager Troi Taylor will join the board, presumably […]

Plane sharing

Sure, why not? Ken Haney has flown in the cockpit of military and commercial planes for more than 35 years. His business partner Steve Geldmacher has logged more than 4 million miles as a traveler. Both say they have watched too many fliers lose valuable time to crowded airports, security lines and flight delays. “We […]

Electric bikes

I don’t know. Hundreds of local residents over the weekend strapped on helmets to ride motorized bikes as a way to showcase yet another way for Houstonians to traverse the city’s often congested streets. The free promotional rides at Rice University Stadium were part of the first Electric Bike Expo in Houston. “A lot of […]

Will driverless cars fix Houston’s traffic problems?

Tory Gattis thinks they might. The second step is understanding the ramifications of coming new technologies — specifically self-driving cars. While the general vehicle fleet will take decades to turn over as people slowly replace their cars, we can expect extremely rapid adoption among taxi services as soon as these vehicles are available in the […]

Supreme Court declines to intervene in Austin Uber referendum

Who knew they could do that? The Texas Supreme Court on Monday declined to order the Austin City Council to rewrite the ballot language on the proposed ride-hailing ordinance that will go before voters May 7. Austin music manager Samantha Phelps, working in conjunction with Uber, last week filed a petition for a writ of […]

Uber to abandon Corpus Christi

Another one bites the dust. In what has become a familiar move for Uber, the vehicle-for-hire company announced Wednesday it will cease operations in Corpus Christi, pointing to “unnecessary” regulations recently adopted by the city. Corpus Christi’s City Council approved new regulations this week that would require app-based vehicle-for-hire drivers to undergo a fingerprint background […]

Supreme Court asked to weigh in on Austin rideshare referendum

Of course it is. The Texas Supreme Court has been pulled into the ongoing battle between Uber and the City of Austin. An Austin resident, supported by Uber, has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the ballot language for a new measure regulating vehicle-for-hire companies within the city, scheduled to come before voters […]

More on the draft bike plan

From the Chron. The Houston Bike Plan identifies $300 million to $500 million in improvements aimed at encouraging cycling and bringing more accessibility to every corner of the city via paths, off-street trails and safer lanes where cyclists share the road with drivers. A key goal of the plan is to generate discussion about how […]

Year 2 for “One Sticker”

Surely this year will go more smoothly. Texas dropped its familiar green safety inspection sticker a year ago, creating confusion for millions of vehicle and trailer owners in the state. Though inspections didn’t change – but might soon, as some lawmakers want to scrap them – the stickers went away as the Texas Department of […]

Mayor Turner appoints new Metro board chair

Good choice. Former Metro board member Carrin Patman will return to the transit agency as chairwoman, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Friday. Patman, 59, is a partner at Houston-based law firm Bracewell, where she has represented major corporate clients in fraud and breach of contract claims. She served on the Metropolitan Transit Authority board from April […]

High speed rail opponents sue TxDOT and AG’s office

They seek information that they say they have been denied so far. A group opposed to a private firm’s plans to build a bullet train stretching from Dallas to Houston has filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Transportation and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in an effort to obtain communications between the firm […]

SH 130 operator files for bankruptcy

Boom. A private company that operates part of the Texas toll road with the highest speed limit in the country filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, fewer than three years after the section of the road it oversees first opened. The SH 130 Concession Company, a partnership between Spain-based Cintra and San Antonio-based Zachry American Infrastructure, opened […]

Metro smartphone payment system debuts

Progress marches onward. Metro riders will be able to board a bus or train without a fare card or cash within a few days, just in time for some of the transit agency’s heaviest use during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Metropolitan Transit Authority officials on Wednesday said they had completed testing and preparation […]