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Posts under ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’

Tweaking the Houston rideshare ordinance

From KUHF: A task force looking into improvements to the city of Houston’s ordinance regulating vehicles for hire, including Uber and other ride-share companies, made recommendations to a city council committee Tuesday. A key proposal is to adjust the requirement that 3 percent of a transportation company’s fleet provide wheelchair access. Toby Cole, who chaired […]

Why that empty private toll road has been so empty

Someone did a study to try to answer that question. In the Austin area, more than 220,000 vehicles travel on I-35 on a daily basis. In contrast, SH 130, the tolled bypass around Austin only carries 40,000 vehicles daily. Why do more vehicles choose the I-35 route? What would make travelers, particularly big trucks, more […]

Metro still dealing with CAF problems

The more things change… Metro and the maker of its newest light rail cars have had many costly and time-consuming conflicts. The latest is forcing the transit agency to spend $1 million so its mechanics can lift the vehicles. The $153 million contract with CAF U.S.A., the American wing of a Spanish firm, has been […]

Another group against the high-speed rail line

From up north. A high-speed rail stop sounded like just the type of shot in the arm Ellis County needed. Development would flock to the station and, with a quick link to both Dallas and Houston, immediately make the county a much more attractive place for a high-powered company to do business. “We went, ‘Hey, […]

So can we call the Metro bus system reimagining a success yet?

If no news is good news, then Metro is swimming in good news, because I haven’t seen much coverage of its new bus system rollout since the opening days. Perhaps all that concern (expressed by one person) about disaster and mass firings was a tad bit overblown. I don’t want to jinx anything, but if […]

System Reimagining, Day One

So far, so good. Bruno Davi waited Monday morning for a Metro bus in his usual spot on Heights Boulevard, but his trip wasn’t the same. It’s a situation thousands of Metropolitan Transit Authority riders faced as the agency’s new bus network, which officially launched Sunday, got its first workday test. Though months of planning […]

SA Council approves new rules to allow Lyft to return

Close vote, but it counts. The ride-hailing firm Lyft will soon re-start operations in San Antonio in the wake of a controversial City Council decision Thursday that will allow the company to offer rides here during a nine-month pilot program. The council spent more than three hours listening to public comment and debating among themselves […]

The system has been reimagined

Now we get to see how it all goes. Seven members of the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority board were among the first passengers to try the revamped bus network launched early Sunday morning after taking a 30-minute bus ride around the city. Metro CEO Tom Lambert joined along on their quick spin across town, allowing […]

Lone Star Rail District to ask SA Council for funding

Not so much for now, but over time there will be real money spent. Officials with Lone Star Rail District (LSRD) have asked City Council to allocate up to $500,000 in the city’s 2016 fiscal year budget to help fund staffing and consulting services in anticipation of the $2-3 billion passenger rail project. Lone Star […]

System reimagining set to debut

Here we go. Houston’s bus system, long considered sluggish and inconvenient, is poised for a transformation that’s drawing national attention for its boldness – and skepticism from some riders. The Metropolitan Transit Authority will roll out its new bus network Sunday after more than two years of discussions, public forums, re-routing and re-re-routing to fix […]

New rail line numbers notch up in July

Good to see, but as before let’s maintain some perspective in these early days. Though still below initial estimates, use of two new light rail lines in Houston is increasing, based on July figures released Monday. After a rocky start, use of the Green Line along Harrisburg increased 25.9 percent from June to July, according […]

Lyft to come back to San Antonio

San Antonio is no longer without any rideshare companies. The ride-hailing company Lyft is poised to return in the “near future” to San Antonio — after the City Council reviews a proposed pilot program next week. Councilman Roberto Treviño, who spent the summer negotiating a deal with the company, said Friday that Lyft officials have […]

Metro makes its final tweaks

Ready or not, here comes System Reimagining. Metro officials on Wednesday approved minor changes to the agency’s redesigned bus system as they brace for response from tens of thousands of riders once the revamped system launches Aug. 16. Metropolitan Transit Authority board members approved three changes aimed at solving specific problems caused when routes were […]

Lone Star Rail faces Council vote in San Antonio

It’s a big step. While there is little opposition to the idea of a commuter rail line (the LSTAR) between San Antonio and Austin, the City takes serious pause when confronted with the yearly costs of operation and maintenance. But there are no tax or fee increases on the table, [Lone Star Rail District Director […]

Where the forest and the trees collide

Headline atop Tuesday’s Chronicle: Spike in Metrorail crashes prompts a second look at safety measures. Metro recorded a record 17 accidents on its rail system in June, and most of them involved the kind of action Marchetti narrowly avoided: people or cars moving into the train’s path or, in one case, a bicyclist riding into […]

Got questions about the new bus routes?

You can get answers, in person, from a Metro staffer. From the inbox: METRO makes it easy for riders to learn more about the New Bus Network through a series of customer information sessions being held across the METRO service area: On-hand staff can provide trip planning assistance and answer specific rider questions on the […]

Allen Parkway 2.0

Changes are a-comin’. Lane closings are scheduled to start soon along Allen Parkway – slowing traffic – so workers can complete a redesign of the road – meant to slow traffic. The long-planned overhaul, which will add parking along Buffalo Bayou’s popular trail system and improve connections between the parkway and intersecting streets, starts next […]

Texas Central Railway gets some initial funding

They’ll need more than this, but it’s a start. Texas Central Partners, which aims to build a bullet train between Texas’ two biggest cities, announced Wednesday they had raised $75 million in private investments in the company’s first round of fundraising. That funds are intended to allow the ambitious $10 billion project to move forward […]

The conservative case for more rail transit

Noted for the record. As conservatives, we find it odd that many people expect us to oppose public transportation, especially rail. In fact, high-quality transit, which usually means rail, benefits conservatives in a number of important ways. It spurs development, something conservatives generally favor, especially in Texas. It saves people, including conservatives, precious time, because […]

Montgomery County hasn’t given up the fight against the high-speed rail line

Keep hope alive, I guess. A newly formed regional planning commission will enable Montgomery County and the city of Magnolia to monitor and work against any high speed rail projects that may cut through western Montgomery County, said County Judge Craig Doyal. The county and area communities have expressed concerns about Texas Central Rail’s proposal […]

The future of Fort Bend transit

Public transportation in Fort Bend County has grown quite a bit since its inception, and there’s a lot of potential for future growth if the pieces can be put into place. On Tuesday, county leaders, staff and transit partners gathered in Richmond to celebrate the rapid evolution of the Fort Bend Public Transportation Department since […]

Preview your bus route change

From Write On Metro: The New Bus Network is designed to make our service better and more convenient for you. Before it debuts on Aug. 16, you can get a preview of exactly how your new route will be changed. Simply go to the Dual Trip Planner. Type in your starting and ending addresses. There […]

More on Houston’s transit deserts

James Llamas writes a guest post at the Kinder Institute blog about their earlier article on transit deserts in Houston. As a planner at Traffic Engineers, Inc. I had the privilege of working with METRO staff and industry experts on the reimagining plan. The project has received quite a bit of attention around the country, […]

Yes, the new rail lines are off to a slower-than-hoped start

Let’s not panic. Our own history shows that early rail ridership numbers are often highly variable. Slightly more than a month after the Metropolitan Transit Authority christened two new rail lines – built at a cost of $1.4 billion and seen by critics as little more than an unnecessary and expensive replacement for buses – […]

Driverless car testing in Austin

Be on the lookout. After years of experimenting with its groundbreaking autonomous vehicle technology almost exclusively in California, Google confirmed Monday that it has begun testing one of its self-driving vehicles in Austin. A white Lexus RX 450h SUV outfitted with the company’s sensors and software began making trips without the aid of a driver […]

Deja vu all over again in San Antonio

Are you ready for some more municipal wrangling over Uber and Lyft? Of course you are. A post-election push to craft city policies to allow ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft to operate in San Antonio has also prompted the taxi industry lobby to strengthen its efforts to shoot down whatever is ultimately proposed. Since Mayor […]

Pushing for Vision Zero

Jay Crossley opines in the Chron for a lower speed limit in Houston. Texas law requires a 30 mph speed limit in the city of Houston on local residential streets unless a different speed limit is posted. If you are walking and are hit by a car traveling 30 mph, you have a 60 percent […]

Metro and your smartphone

Nice. As Metropolitan Transit Authority officials planned for the new system – which will affect practically every bus ride in the region – they have also focused on offering new services. One of those, a system that allows bus riders to text a code listed at each bus stop and receive a reply with the […]

San Antonio wants a do-over on Uber and Lyft

Maybe the third time will be the charm. Mayor Ivy Taylor said Friday that there’s a demand for transportation-network companies in San Antonio and signaled that she wants to work a new deal that would allow Uber and Lyft to restart operations here. Taylor told the City Council during an all-day retreat that she has […]

Harris County road bond

Harris County voters may be asked to vote on a bond issue this fall. Rapid population expansion and development in unincorporated areas of Harris County have strained roads, facilities and infrastructure so much that for the first time in eight years the county is considering a major bond referendum for the November ballot. Harris County […]

Houston’s transit deserts

From the Kinder Institute’s Urban Edge blog: A new study suggests that despite METRO’s launch of several highly-touted and publicized improvements, the agency is still struggling to address the needs of some communities that depend heavily on transit. With operations beginning on METRO’s two new light rail lines and the reimagined bus system set to […]

Your input for the Bike Plan requested

I’ve written before about the Bike Plan the city is currently working on, to improve all facets of bike travel in Houston. This effort, now in Phase 2 of 6, depends heavily on input from the public, and the time to give that input is now. Phase 2 is about defining the goals of the […]

More hyperloops

Gonna be the future soon. Not content with simply sending men to Mars and conquering the automotive industry, billionaire Elon Musk has plans for a tubular transportation system that would dominate the globe. The Hyperloop has been considered closer to science fiction since the idea’s introduction, but a new plan from the UCLA Architecture and […]

Lawsuit filed over Uptown line

All things considered, I suppose this was inevitable. A homeowner’s association is suing Metro over its involvement in plans to run bus lanes along Post Oak Boulevard, saying the project puts the agency at odds with a 2003 referendum that included adding a rail line along the corridor. The lawsuit was filed Monday just minutes […]