Traffic, public transit, congestion, road construction and closures, I-35, MoPac, US 290, US 183, Ben White Blvd, and policy and planning issues related to transportation and mobility in Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson.

Ride-Hailing Companies Bring Battle to the Legislature

Jun 8, 2016
Qiling Wang / The Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Representatives from Uber and Lyft urged lawmakers to adopt statewide regulations for the ride-hailing industry during a Texas Capitol hearing on Wednesday, citing what they called burdensome local ordinances that have driven them to leave Austin and other Texas cities.

The companies fielded pointed questions from members of the House Committee on Business and Industry about safety concerns and how local regulations, like those in Austin, impact their operations.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT

From the Austin Monitor: As City Council members careen toward their first chat with the public over a potentially massive mobility bond, a new proposal for light rail investment has risen up from the grassroots.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

From the Austin Monitor: Mayor Steve Adler has blasted into the middle of the ongoing conversation about a November mobility bond election by proposing an estimated $720 million package of projects along Austin’s most vital arterials.

KUT News

The Austin City Council has approved a plan aimed at eliminating deaths and serious injuries on the city’s roads by the year 2025.

The plan, called Vision Zero, is based on a philosophy developed in Sweden in the 1990s. The idea is to treat traffic crashes like smoking – basically, as a public health problem that can be prevented. Last year, Austin had 102 traffic deaths – its highest number ever. There have been more than 20 deaths so far this year.

Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

This week, Capital Metro is presenting the latest findings from its Connections 2025 study, which seeks to revamp Austin’s public transit system over the next 10 years.

The new report looks at how Capital Metro’s services fit in with changing demographics, and shows that while Austin’s transit ridership is higher than cities like Dallas and San Antonio, it’s still declining. 

Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: The Urban Transportation Commission has once again given a boost to advocates for light rail in Austin.

At its meeting last week, the commission voted unanimously to recommend that City Council consider putting bonds for “rail options” on the November ballot.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Last year, 102 people died on Austin’s roads. All this week, we’ve been looking at the plan in our series – the Road to Zero.

While we’ve heard the stories of victims and loved ones, we haven’t heard from those who respond to these deaths – in the minutes and days after. KUT’s Audrey McGlinchy spoke with three members of the Austin Police Department about their work and the toll it takes.

Austin is facing its first weekend in more than two years without Uber or Lyft. Both companies pulled out Monday to protest voter rejection of Proposition 1, which would have eliminated mandatory fingerprint-based background checks.

Opponents of Prop 1 responded to Uber and Lyft’s threat to leave by arguing that if there is money to be made on ride-hailing in Austin, other companies will replace them. The city’s taxis are not able to meet demand during peak hours and special events, according to one study, but anyone who’s tried to call a cab on a Saturday night prior to the arrival of Uber and Lyft could tell you that.


This story is part of our series, The Road to Zero, which explores traffic deaths and injuries in Austin and the city's plan to prevent them.

High speeds are one of the biggest killers on our roadways. As city officials tackle an uptick in traffic fatalities here in Austin, speed limits come up a lot.

KUT News

The Austin Transportation Department will consider untangling the city’s franchise model of taxi companies in an attempt to “address equity” between for-hire drivers in the city. The news comes after the failure of Proposition 1 on Saturday and the exit of ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft two days later.

The proposed changes would usher in an open market system for cabs, bringing them more in line with the way ride-hailing companies operate in the city. Historically the city has capped the number of cabs in the city – keeping that number of operating vehicles at just over 900.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

This story is part of our series, The Road to Zero, which explores traffic deaths and injuries in Austin and the city's plan to prevent them.

On January 13, 2015 at about 9:30 at night, 23 year old James Robison was driving his motorcycle on Riverside Drive toward downtown.

On the other side of the road, the driver of a Ford Focus had just gotten to Austin from Killeen. He and his passenger had come down to help a friend shoot a music video. They had put their friend’s address into a GPS app on his phone.

Caleb Pritchard for the Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor: A small Austin Transportation Department project that attracted worldwide headlines earlier this year has had a bumpier road than originally anticipated.

The polka-dotted intersection at East Sixth and Waller streets in East Austin became a minor sensation when crews first put it together back in January. The colorful design scored plaudits for keeping Austin weird in the service of something as mundane as traffic-calming. The project turned the intersection into a four-way stop and used white lines, polka dots and plastic bollards to claim for pedestrians large chunks of street space formerly given to cars.

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon for KUT News

The new sound walls along MoPac are designed to reduce traffic noise from the highway going into surrounding neighborhoods, but some wonder if the new construction could become a target for vandals.

Bob Daemmerich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: 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.

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Austin's traffic problems are pretty much woven into the fiber of this city at this point. We've got the most congested roadway in the state in I-35, which causes plenty of traffic-related frustrations for many a commuter, but we've also got 10 other roadways on the list of the top 100 most congested roadways. 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

Everything’s in place for a May 7 vote on rules governing ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft. But which set of rules will drivers be living under until then? It gets a little complicated.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

From The Austin Monitor: With their eyes on a possible transportation bond election in November, City Council members on Thursday kicked off a process for determining which items the public will be asked to weigh in on this fall.

flickr user mirsasha

Members of Austin’s Public Safety Commission are calling for changes to a city plan that aims to eliminate traffic deaths in the city. 

Commission member Mike Levy criticized the Vision Zero task force’s draft plan, which includes more than 100 recommendations aimed at making Austin’s roadways safer, calling it a "kitchen sink."

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: The Texas Transportation Commission unveiled a$1.3 billion plan Wednesday targeted at reducing traffic congestion on some of the most clogged Texas roadways.

The plan calls for the Texas Department of Transportation to direct funds for 14 roadway projects specifically designed to relieve gridlock around the state's five largest cities: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

The Transportation Security Administration released statistics on the number of firearms seized at airports in 2015 today and half of the top 10 airports for weapon seizures were in Texas.