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Posts under ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’

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 […]

The draft bike plan is out

Here it is, in all its glory. I encourage you to look at the draft plan and play with the interactive map. Then, when you start to feel overwhelmed and wish someone would explain it all to you, go read Raj Mankad’s story in Offcite, which does exactly that. The last time Houston made a […]

New parking meters coming

No more paper receipts to clutter up your dashboard. Some things about street parking in downtown Houston are unlikely to change: It will always require a keen eye for available spots and the courage and skill to wedge your car between large trucks. A paper receipt, however, is becoming unnecessary as the city replaces its […]

Lone Star Rail setback

Bummer. Union Pacific dealt a major blow to a proposal to connect San Antonio and Austin with passenger rail by pulling one of its tracks from a possible plan. UP ended its agreement with the Lone Star Rail District to study the feasibility of running passenger trains on a freight line that parallels Interstate 35. […]

Turner wants to rethink transportation

I like the way he’s thinking. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, in less than a month on the job, has hit the streets at full speed. First he tackled potholes. Last week he tackled a state transportation department that’s spent the past half-century developing a highway network that is increasingly getting farther from Houston’s core and, […]

Austin will vote on rideshare ordinance revision

The month of May just got a lot more interesting. Let the people choose how to regulate Uber and Lyft, a divided Austin City Council decided late Thursday. The council, on a 2-8-1 vote, declined to adopt an ordinance underlying a petition drive that organizers said gathered more than 65,000 signatures. Under city rules about […]

Driverless car technology update

I have a personal stake in this story. James Kuffner, the head of Google’s robotics division and one of the original team of ten who started its self-driving car work, has left the company for a job at Toyota’s $1 billion research institute in Silicon Valley. His departure will come as a blow to the […]

Harrisburg line overpass delayed again

Ugh. Just, ugh. A rail overpass vital to completion of the East End light rail line that has divided neighbors and eroded public confidence will be delayed another four months, Metro officials confirmed Monday. “It has been the project from hell from the beginning,” Metropolitan Transit Authority board member Cindy Siegel said. “It needs to […]

Still more hyperloops

They had a hyperloop design contest at Texas A&M: In the end, Elon Musk couldn’t resist showing up to the competition he helped inspire. The billionaire SpaceX CEO made a surprise appearance at the end of the Hyperloop pod design competition at Texas A&M University Saturday, eliciting a rapturous reaction from the thousand-plus audience of […]

Two more places that Uber won’t operate

Goodbye, Galveston. Just days after the City Council passed an ordinance designed to regulate transportation networks, Uber has shut down its service in Galveston. Monday evening, people in Galveston who tried to use the phone app to order a ride received a message that Uber is no longer available in Galveston “Due to new regulations […]

Can you ever truly “fix” the 59/610 interchange?

I kind of think the answer is “No”, but they’re going to try anyway. With Houston choking on traffic congestion from Clear Lake to Jersey Village, an infusion of $447 million in state funds promises relief sooner than expected at three notorious freeway bottlenecks. That sum amounts to more than one-third of $1.3 billion allocated […]

Chron story on the bus map tweaks

A few bits of interest here. Metro leaders hope more frequent service on popular routes will build on the ridership gains the system is experiencing. “I think as you get higher frequency and people know it is going to come, we are going to see higher ridership,” Metro CEO Tom Lambert told board members Wednesday. […]

Maybe the state should regulate Uber and Lyft after all

Texas Monthly reviews the current state of affairs with transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft and their fight against mandatory fingerprinting as part of the background checks that new drivers must ondergo, all of which is playing out in Austin right now. The argument in favor of the [fingerptint] provision is simple: Lyft and […]

Petitioners may force vote to change Austin rideshare ordinance

Assuming there were no shenanigans, this is an impressive show of force. A group looking to overturn an Austin ordinance requiring fingerprinting of ride-hailing drivers said Monday it has gathered more than 65,000 petition signatures, more than three times what it will need to force a possible election on a substitute ordinance. Ridesharing Works for […]

Houston Tomorrow presents its Vision Zero plan

Here you go. Following other “vision zero” programs nationally, Houston Tomorrow encouraged officials – especially Houston lawmakers – to crack down on speeding and distracted driving while investing more in rebuilding streets so that vehicles can share them safely with pedestrians, cyclists and other users. “Vision Zero does not discriminate based on how you choose […]

Metro bus system tweaks coming

From the inbox: You spoke, and METRO listened. Beginning Jan. 24, 2016, METRO will put in place a series of route and schedule modifications based on feedback received from riders and bus operators since launching the New Bus Network Aug. 16, 2015. These service enhancements are expected to reduce overcrowding and improve on-time performance, and […]

Know any good, solvent highway construction firms?

TxDOT is looking for a few. Drivers on Interstate 45 will wait longer for better connections to Loop 610 and U.S. 59 because a Woodlands-based contractor will have to be replaced. The jobs, totaling about $102 million, were won by Tradeco Infraestructura, based in The Woodlands. The contractor is the American wing of the Mexican […]

High speed rail opponents write a letter to Japan

Seriously? Thirty-three East Texas officials sent a letter to the Japanese ambassador to the United States on Monday to express their opposition to a private Texas firm’s proposed high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston that has strong ties to a Japanese company. The letter is the latest effort by opponents of Texas Central Partners’ […]

Another Uber lawsuit update

Looks like we are headed towards a jury trial soon. U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore has denied Uber’s request for summary judgment and rejected parts of the company’s motion to dismiss. “This court has found that the question of the literal falsity, or allegedly misleading nature, of Uber’s representations is a question of fact to […]

B-Cycle’s 100,000 rides

Okay, almost 100,000. Still impressive. Houston’s growing bike sharing system – poised for a big 2016 – nearly pulled off 100,000 checkouts last year. After adding two stations in the last weeks of the year, bringing the total to 31 kiosks and 190 bicycles, Houston B-Cycle logged 98,388 uses, according to organizers of the system. […]

Austin versus San Antonio on ridesharing

The Current reviews the state of play. In the spring of 2014, Lyft led the way in Austin, but the company launched without city approval and was eventually banned, along with Uber, which launched in the capital a short time later. Roughly a year ago, Austin’s city council eased its fight, allowing ride-hailing companies to […]

The Magic Bus

Cool. Just like that, faster than Uber, the Magic Bus is seven minutes from its first passenger of the day. For the next 12 hours, the bus – in actuality, a brightly painted van bearing the slogan “For all who labor for a better life” – will make 20-minute loops around Gulfton, a working-class neighborhood […]

The Katy Freeway cautionary tale on addressing congestion

Turns out that throwing more lanes at the Katy Freeway hasn’t helped all that much. Several years ago, the Katy Freeway in Houston was a major traffic bottleneck. It was so bad that in 2004 the American Highway Users Alliance (AHUA) called one of its interchanges the second worst bottleneck in the nation wasting 25 […]

Bike safety is also car safety

It’s been two years since bicyclist Chelsea Norman was killed by drunk hit-and-run driver Margaret Mayer. The city has taken numerous steps to help make the streets safer for bicyclists. How are we doing on that? “I personally don’t feel that the streets are any safer,” said Hector Garcia, who helps organize cycling events around […]

Metro and HCTRA exploring other payment options

Look for them soon. Many transit riders are clamoring for smartphone payment for Metro buses and trains, which the agency originally announced would be ready by the end of 2015. Those plans have been delayed because of contract negotiations, but about 100 riders will be chosen for a test of a smartphone-based payment system in […]

More on the Gulf Coast Rail District and the high speed rail line

The Chron reports on the story. Officials with the Gulf Coast Rail District, Houston-Galveston Area Council, Texas Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Transit Authority are involved in a comprehensive planning study of rail, generally in the Washington Avenue and Interstate 10 area. The study, building off numerous previous reports and research by the agencies, is […]

Metro posts solid ridership increase

Nice. METRO’s chosen path to increase ridership by delivering improved routes, with improved connections, is producing solid, steady and most impressively significant, numbers – across the board. Ridership on all fixed routes grew to nearly 7 million in November 2015. That is an 11 percent jump from November 2014. Local bus ridership numbers for November […]

Would the elevated 610 lanes really reduce congestion?

Color me skeptical. The elevated lane design, officials said, would allow traffic headed around the loop, and not into the Uptown area, to flow more freely. The lanes would have no access to exits for San Felipe, Westheimer, Richmond or U.S. 59. Moving that through-traffic to the express lanes would open up space for local […]

Austin passes new vehicles for hire regulations

It’ll be very interesting to see how this plays out. Defying implied threats that such a vote would chase Uber and Lyft out of town, the Austin City Council late Thursday put into city statutes mandatory fingerprint-based background checks for ride-hailing drivers. But the move will not immediately empty the streets of transportation network company […]

Want to help Metro test a mobile ticketing app?

Here’s what you need to know. METRO is launching a new mobile ticketing application for smart phones, and we are looking for volunteers to help us test the app before it is released to the public. By volunteering to be a beta tester, we ask that you agree to the following: 1) Actively participate in […]

More on the proposed 610 elevated lanes

From Swamplot: Love that rush of vertigo from driving up the entrance ramp at Hidalgo St. onto the southbound West Loop? Freeway thrill-seekers may have some new options in a few years. The above rendering of new elevated express lanes along the West Loop between I-10 and 59 made an appearance at last night’s TxDOT […]

Paxton opines on Uptown BRT

AG Ken Paxton was asked for an opinion on whether or not Metro could work with the Uptown Management District on its proposed BRT line. The opinion has been given, though it doesn’t really settle anything. In the ruling, Paxton said the issue centered on the $640 million in bonds voters approved in 2003, part […]

More rail options being studied

This caught my eye last week. The Gulf Coast Rail District says to make the system viable the train needs to come into downtown, or there has to be some sort of commuter rail option that would link downtown with the high-speed line. The Rail District now wants to study the possibility of a rail […]

Here comes I-14

Don’t hold your breath waiting for it, however. This will take awhile. Texas is getting a new interstate, as part of a long-term federal transportation bill. Interstate 14 will be cobbled together mostly from U.S. 190 and other existing roads to create a new freeway from western Texas to the Louisiana border. The Gulf Coast […]