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Posts under ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’

Another data point on Uber and Republicans

From Josh Barro. Republicans have hailed Uber, the smartphone-based car service, as a symbol of entrepreneurial innovation that could be strangled by misplaced government regulation. In August, the Republican National Committee urged supporters to sign a petition in support of the company, warning that “government officials are trying to block Uber from providing services simply […]

Uber to be available at Houston airports now

This was part of the original vehicle for hire ordinance overhaul, to be implemented later. “Later” has now arrived. Uber and other app-based ride service companies won coveted access to Houston’s airports Wednesday when the City Council quietly passed new regulations, a move likely to increase competition in a market that has long been a […]

Bringing the high speed rail line downtown

Building that high speed rail line from Dallas to Houston is one thing. Bringing it to a centrally-located terminal is another. Plans for a high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas are moving relatively quickly beyond a recent initial round of public meetings. Questions about the route are dominating discussions. Though still years away – […]

Lyft to leave November 20

So long. Lyft plans to suspend its Houston operations on Nov. 20, according to a letter sent to Houston Lyft users. The San Francisco-based ride-sharing service is upset over the new regulations approved by the Houston City Council in August. Those regulations include requiring drivers to have background checks and required medical exams, and installing […]

Getting more people to use B-Cycle

Houston’s B-Cycle program has been a big success overall, but not in all locations. Despite the growth, however, few of the nearly 70,000 checkouts between January and mid-October are coming from three B-Cycle stations specifically placed to expand the system into Third Ward and Northside neighborhoods. According to B-Cycle data, 1,151 of the 68,419 checkouts […]

Who needs managed lanes?

Not TxDOT, and not on 290. State transportation officials have changed plans for widening U.S. 290, increasing capacity for people driving alone but reducing opportunities for alternatives to solo driving. After initially planning four or five general use lanes in each direction and three reversible managed (toll and carpool) lanes in the center, Texas Department […]

TxDOT still screwing with Metro

WTF? Given powerful support from local and state transportation officials, the more of the parkway comes together, the more likely the last phases will fall into place. The project that remains far less certain is the planned dedicated bus lanes on Post Oak Boulevard. The project, which a few months ago was speeding along, has […]

Re-revisiting red light cameras

This horse is dead. Please stop beating it. Four years after Houston voters rejected red-light cameras, the divisive issue unexpectedly resurfaced Tuesday when police officials presented figures indicating that removing the cameras made 51 busy intersections more dangerous. Auto crashes have more than doubled at those intersections since voters banned use of the cameras in […]

Lyft leaving?

Sorry it’s not working out for you. Best of luck in your future endeavors. Less than a week before new city regulations take effect, one of two app-based, paid-ride companies is preparing to end its local business rather than use a city-required procedure to conduct background checks. “We’ve made the very difficult decision that if […]

Location, location, location

At the first public meeting about the proposed Dallas-Houston high speed railroad line, the main focus was the endpoints. More than 100 people were in attendance on Tuesday for the first of six public meetings being held jointly by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Texas Department of Transportation on Texas Central Railway’s plan. […]

Downtown dedicated bike lane delayed a bit

Aiming for the end of the year now. Conversion of a traffic lane on Lamar into Houston’s main bike route through downtown has been delayed as officials finalize plans and wait for in-demand humps known as “armadillos” to arrive. Department of Public Works and Engineering officials initially said work would start on the lanes in […]

Time to comment on the proposed high speed rail routes

Check ‘em out, and tell ‘em what you think. Observers have long known that only a few options were available for the route of the privately funded high-speed train line between Houston and Dallas. Now a firmer picture of where the trains might run is emerging. As part of the federally required process to evaluate […]

Reminder: Uber and Lyft aren’t legal yet in Houston

Drive for ‘em at your own risk for the next month or so. New entrants into Houston’s paid-ride market can’t be licensed to operate for another month, but the transition is proving problematic as the companies and drivers rack up citations and the city impounds vehicles. Since Aug. 6, when the City Council approved changes […]

Austin gives early approval to Uber and Lyft

It’s temporary pending a second Council vote and further study. After nearly four hours of testimony and debate, council members gave initial approval shortly after midnight to new rules that would temporarily legalize ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, whose drivers have been providing rides-for-hire for months in defiance of city code. The measure, […]

Metro board approves updated bus reimagining plan

With some provisos. Despite vocal opposition, Metropolitan Transit Authority board members tentatively approved sweeping changes to the bus route system that restructure routes and change daily habits for nearly everyone who uses a bus today. The approval authorizes staff to move forward with scheduling and other features, but it doesn’t close off public comment. “We […]

Free WiFi finally comes to Houston’s airports

Hallelujah. Travelers to Houston’s largest airports will now have access to free WiFi. The service will be available in all terminals at Hobby Airport and in Terminals A and D at Bush Intercontinental for the tens of millions of travelers through the airports each year, the Houston Airport System announced Monday. The service will roll […]

Public meetings coming for Texas Central Railway

Part of the process of getting the Houston-to-Dallas line built. A proposed high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston, already the subject of a federal environmental review, will soon be the focus of a series of public meetings in Texas, according to the president of the firm looking to build the line. The Texas Department […]

Texas Transportation Commission continues to be obstinate

This continues to be ridiculous. Continued disagreement about certain features of a planned Uptown bus rapid transit system prompted a Texas transportation official to suggest Thursday that $25 million in state funding should be redirected. The comments by Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Moseley were the latest setback for the project, intended to relieve traffic congestion […]

Southeast and Harrisburg line openings delayed again

sigh Metro acknowledged Wednesday that it will be unable to open its two new light rail lines this year as promised, the latest in a series of delays and controversies associated with the rail system. Less than two months ago, Metropolitan Transit Authority officials said the agency’s Green and Purple lines would open in December […]

Metro still tweaking its reimagined bus plan

Still a work in progress. Sweeping changes to Houston’s bus system are on pace for approval later this month, though some features of the new routes and schedules will be a work in progress. Five so-called “flex zones” planned in areas where ridership is low but service is crucial will undergo further study and another […]

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 […]