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How to get around Houston during the Super Bowl

super bowl traffic

Next week’s 2017 Super Bowl will undoubtedly affect Houston traffic, but there are several ways that Houston natives and tourists alike can minimize their time in bumper-to-bumper backups. Eury, president and CEO of Central Houston, is also serving as chair of the Super Bowl Transportation Subcommittee and worked to launch several traffic-alleviating initiatives for next week, arguably the biggest of which is awareness.

“The whole theme of the transportation part is ‘know before you go,’” Eury said, speaking specifically about downtown traffic. “It’s not a situation where you can drive in, drive around and know what’s going on.”

Most of the major Super Bowl events will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center and Discovery Green, Eury said, and a reservoir of available parking for those events will be concentrated on the west side of downtown. The Houston Super Bowl Host Committee developed a parking app for iOS and Android smartphones that’s accessible via the Super Bowl app, Eury said, that will allow users to reserve parking spots in advance.

The Transportation Subcommittee has also been crunching the numbers in anticipation of the massive increase in downtown foot traffic. Downtown’s working population stands at around 150,000, Eury said, and a crowd of that size or slightly larger is expected for the weekend of the Super Bowl. Part of the reason that the Super Bowl Live festival is spread out over 10 days is to reduce downtown congestion; Eury said there might not be enough physical space downtown otherwise. The Super Bowl Live festival is expected to attract more than 1 million fans over the course of its 10-day period lifespan.

“A human occupies three to four square feet,” Eury said. “You can do the math and hope there’s a certain number of people that come. The stadium is different – you know exactly how many seats you have.”

Contrary to how things played out in 2004, the last time Houston hosted the Super Bowl, a sizeable chunk of out-of-towners will be staying in downtown as opposed to the Uptown area. Downtown has 7,300 hotel rooms compared to the 4,500 rooms it had in 2004. For residents and tourists staying in Uptown, though, a Metro bus shuttle will run from the Galleria Mall to downtown during Super Bowl week, Eury said, and admission will cost $2. On Super Bowl Sunday, the shuttle will run from the Galleria to NRG Stadium.

“The whole idea is to connect these two areas of concentration of visitors,” Eury said.

Eury highlighted the differences between today’s Houston and the Houston of more than a decade ago.

Its population has increased to 6.6 million from 5.1 million in 2004, according to data from Visit Houston. The number of hotel rooms has nearly doubled to 84,000 from 44,000. And perhaps most importantly, there’s so much more to do in Houston than there was 10 years ago. There are approximately 10,000 restaurant and nightlife options in Houston per Visit Houston; back in 2004, that number stood at 6,000.

For more detailed information about transportation and traffic during the super bowl please check the super bowl transportation page.

J0n Ouazdi

Admin

Uber and Starbucks are big winners with business expense account crowd

Uber & Starbucks

Uber is fast becoming much more popular as a ground transportation provider, while a bigger chunk of the business traveler expense account crowd heads for Starbucks instead of McDonald’s these days.

Those are two of the biggest takeaways from Certify’s just-released fourth annual SpendSmart report, detailing trends in expensed corporate travel.

Certify, an automated travel and expense management software provider, annually analyzes million of business traveler expense receipts to discern emerging business travel trends in its SpendSmart reports.

The new SpendSmart edition singled out the fast rise of Uber as the biggest development in the fourth quarter of 2016. The report shows Uber with 52 percent of all expenses and receipts in the ground transportation category, up from 40 percent in the fourth quarter a year ago.

Uber also was the most-expensed vendor overall in Certify’s newest report, capturing 6 percent of receipts and expenses throughout all of 2016.

Lyft, Uber’s biggest ride-sharing competitor, commanded 4 percent of expenses and receipts in the fourth quarter of 2016, double the 2 percent it registered in the fourth quarter of 2015. While Lyft’s share is growing faster than Uber, Lyft obviously has a long way to go to catch up.

Uber’s growing dominance also has resulted in a marked decline in both expensed taxi and rental car business. Rental car business declined to 33 percent of the total in the fourth quarter of 2016 from 38 percent a year ago. And taxis dropped to 11 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 from 20 percent a year ago.

Elsewhere, Starbucks (NYSE: SBUX) trounced McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) as the most-expensed restaurant chain, with 5.10 percent of expenses in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to McDonald’s 2.85 percent.

And business travelers appear to prefer to fly a carrier like Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL), known for its on-time performance.

The SpendSmart report had Delta as the most-expensed airline with 20.22 percent of expenses and receipts in the fourth quarter of 2016. American Airlines(NASDAQ: AAL) was second with 17.30 percent, followed by United Airlines (NYSE: UAL) at 14.02 percent and Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) at 11.15 percent.

Hilton Hotels’ (NYSE: HLT) Hampton Inn chain got the highest share in the expensed hotels category at 8.82 percent, followed closely by Marriott Hotels(NYSE: MAR) at 8.23 percent and Courtyard by Marriott at 7.20 percent.

But when it came to rating hotels overall, a different list popped up in the SpendSmart report. On a scale of 1 to 5, travelers rated Westin Hotels tops (4.6), followed by Homewood Suites (4.4), Embassy Suites (4.3), Hilton Garden Inn(4.3) and Hyatt (4.3) (NYSE: H).

The SpendSmart report took pains to point out that Airbnb is showing signs of gaining traction with business travelers. Though Airbnb ended 2016 with just 0.27 percent of all expenses and receipts in the hotel category, SpendSmart predicted Airbnb could land among the top 15 most-expensed “hotels” by late in 2017.

Once the gold standard in the rental car business, Hertz’s star has fallen in recent times. And that is reflected in the SpendSmart results for the fourth quarter of 2016. National was the most expensed car rental company (24.59 percent), followed by Enterprise (16.76) with Hertz doing no better than third at 14.40 percent. Hertz recently replaced its CEO.

Overall, Certify said the results for fourth quarter 2016 and full-year 2016 indicate a growing personalization of business travel.

Noted Certify CEO Robert Neveu: “Advances in personal technologies and travel-based smartphone apps have made it easier for business travelers to choose the experiences and vendors they prefer. And the companies they work for are following suit with expanded travel policy guidelines to accommodate news services and payment methods.”

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Airport Parking Arrangement during Super Bowl

IAH, Hobby parking for Super Bowl

Dear Limousine Operators,

During the super Bowl, there will be a very high traffic at both Houston Airports, so the Airport Administration with conjunction with the City have created extra space for parking for commercial vehicles, they designated new parking lot for staging, there will be traffic signs to direct drivers to the appropriate location, there will be no park and wait as usual, inspectors will be enforcing the rules and HPD officers will be on high alerts for violators, please use comment sense, and be courteous to the people helping you with the traffic and parking. The information below will help understand the distribution of the flow of traffic, staging area, and special designated spot for large vehicles and charter buses.

IAH Airport

EPSON MFP image

Below are traffic, and parking charts for each terminal, please print this maps and place it in all you vehicles so your drivers can use it for guidance once they are at the airports.

 

 

If you have any questions, or concerned please call the traffic management office at IAH: 281-230-1300,  and they will be able to assist you.

 


William P. Hobby Airport

DISPATCHED HOLDING LOT PROCEDURES
 
HOLDING LOT A PROCEDURES

(CHARTER BUSES, LIMOUSINES, AND SHUTTLES)
 
DRIVER PROCEDURES – HOLDING LOT A

 

ARRIVAL
 
The procedures listed below will be followed for Arrival activity that is anticipated from Saturday, January 28, 2017 through Sunday, February 05, 2017.  The procedures listed below will be used from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. (midnight) each day.  Your cooperation in following these procedures will assist us in ensuring all the Holding Lot A vehicles are able to access the Airport and load their passengers in the safest and most efficient manner possible.
 
To simplify your access to the Airport, we have established special routes which will guide you to your intended destination within the Airport.  By following this route, you can navigate to the staging facilities by following the signage posted along the roadways.  One of the attached maps provides detailed information concerning directions you are to follow, see Appendix E.
 
All charter buses, limousines, and Super Shuttle vehicles will be staged in Holding Lot A.  This lot is located at 7748 Airport Blvd., see Appendix B. Upon entering the holding area, you will be guided into a specific parking slot by a Parking Coordinator (PC). Once parked the PC will verify that the vehicle has the proper permits.  If a vehicle has a valid yearly permit, then a special event permit is not required. Proceed to the Dispatch Office located in the vicinity of the staging area and check-in with the Dispatcher coordinating the arrivals.  You will be required to provide the Dispatcher with the company name, airline name, flight number, estimated time of arrival of the party you are scheduled to pick up, and for buses the vehicle height.  For buses that are taller than 11 feet, arrival pick-up must happen at the Departure level, east end. 
 
The Dispatcher will record the information on the color-coded curbside clearance form and when the arrival flight has landed the form will be issued to the driver. This form must be displayed in the front windshield of the vehicle.  There will be a map provided with the curbside clearance form showing specific routing directions to the terminal and will indicate the appropriate areas for the loading of passengers.  The color-coded curbside clearance forms are as follows:  

l Buses 11 foot or under – Red

l Buses more than 11 foot – Green  ·

l Limos – Yellow ·

l Shuttles – Blue 
  
THE DISPATCHER WILL DISPATCH YOUR VEHICLE TO THE TERMINAL BASED UPON THE ESTIMATED ARRIVAL TIME OF THE FLIGHT YOUR VEHICLE IS SCHEDULED TO MEET.  In this way, we will be able to ensure that all vehicles load their passengers in a timely manner and avoid gridlock along the roadway.
 
Upon arriving at the terminal, your vehicle will be inspected for compliance by the Curbside Manager located at each curb.  Vehicles that do not have a curbside clearance form will be refused access to the curb, directed to proceed to the holding area, and will not be allowed to load their passengers.  The color-coded curbside clearance form will be retrieved by the Curbside Manager.  All drivers will remain with their vehicles while operating in the terminal complex.  

If you have any questions, or concerned please call the traffic management office at Hobby: 713-775-1976, and they will be able to assist you.

Please print all this documents and keep it in your car to use it as a reference when you get confused at the airports, they are your passport to a quick and stress free pick ups and drop offs.

 

Jon Ouazdi

Admin

 

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Special Permit for the Super Bowl event

Dear Limousine Operator,

If you are planning to bring affiliate vehicles and driver from out of town to help you with the extra business of the Super Bowl, as you all know there is a special permit that your out of town vehicles and drivers should have before they start operating in Houston City limits.

Attached is the applications needed for:

2016 Fingerprint Packet

Application Packet –  COH Drivers License – Final 12_2016 Ver 2

Special Event Permit Form – Final

Note that the City of Houston ARA department will be open on Saturday 01/21/2017 and Saturday 01/28/2017 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 Pm but you need to check in before 3:30 pm to be served.

2016 Fingerprint Packet

Application Packet – COH Drivers License – Final 12_2016 Ver 2

Special Event Permit Form – Final

If you have any questions, or you need help with some issue concerning this subject, you can call the ARA at the numbers below:

832-394-9450

832-394-8803

832-395-9632

832-394-9000

 

Jon Ouazdi

Admin

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Texas Sen. Robert Nichols proposes bill regulating Uber, Lyft at state level

Texas Sen. Robert Nichols proposes bill regulating Uber, Lyft at state level

State Sen. Robert Nichols has introduced a bill that will regulate ride-booking apps like Uber and Lyft at the state level and prevent cities from enacting their own rules for the increasingly popular apps.

Nichols, R-Jacksonville, chairs the Senate Transportation Committee. His goal, he said, is to “keep Texans moving.”

“Basically, this would override cities’ authority to regulate these kinds of apps,” he said. “If cities try to regulate these at the municipal level, that’s a regulation of trade. And they don’t have that authority.”

Nichols will likely see opposition from the Texas Municipal League and taxi companies, who will cite local control, public safety concerns and a level playing field as their concerns.

“When you go to a McDonald’s, there’s an assumption that the food is safe, and there’s an agency in place to ensure it is,” said Jamal Moharer, who owns NDMJ, the parent company of Tyler Taxi and Tyler Car Service. “In this bill, there’s nothing like that. It’s ‘buyer beware.’ It’s totally up to the consumer to do their due-diligence before they get into a vehicle. There’s no presumption of protection.”

RIDE-BOOKING

Here’s how such apps work: People with cars and spare time register as a driver with a company such as Lyft or Uber, and when they’re free, they log in. People who need a ride can then summon them, for an agreed-upon rate. The company takes a small percentage for an administrative fee.

“I went to Washington D.C. about four years ago and that’s when I first heard about Uber,” Nichols said. “My staff had the apps, and we used it the whole time we were there. I thought it was wonderful.”

But Uber and Lyft are not currently available in Austin, where the Legislature has now convened. That’s due in large part to disagreement over the rules that ride-sharing app companies have to abide by.

“I think Austin really messed up when it chased Uber out of town,” Nichols said.

The biggest sticking point between ride-booking apps and cities has been fingerprint-based background checks. Companies say their own criminal background checks are sufficient and that fingerprint-based checks (which go through FBI databases) are incomplete.

The fingerprinting issue scuttled statewide legislation in the last session, Nichols noted.

Nichols said his new bill will require background checks on drivers. Their criminal records will be checked, as well as their driving records. Drivers would be ineligible if they are on a sex offenders registry, or have had a DWI within seven years.

Moharer counters that taxicab companies have a much higher burden to meet.

“Here’s an example,” said Moharer. “The bill says that companies must have a drug and alcohol policy. That falls short of saying companies must have a drug and alcohol testing policy. By law, my company’s drivers – like any school bus driver in East Texas – has to have pre-employment drug testing and post-incident drug testing. Why should Uber be exempt from that?”

But ride-booking apps aren’t the same thing, Nichols contends.

“The cabs argue they’re not playing by the same rules,” Nichols said. “But these guys are not taxicabs. They don’t deal in cash and they don’t pick up people on the side of the road. It is truly a private contract between someone who wants to deliver people and someone who wants to be delivered. All the company does is put them together.”

Nichols said the big taxi companies fear competition.

“I don’t want to see anyone go out of business, but you don’t want to be afraid of competition, either,” he said. “It’s not an issue of safety. You call pizza delivery guys and piano tuners who go to your house. Why doesn’t the city try to regulate those? Let’s let the free market work.”

Some companies might opt for fingerprint-based background checks, and if the market responds to that higher level of screening, then so be it, Nichols said.

“Let the market work,” he said.

For his part, Moharer said he has faith in free markets, but this is a more complex issue than that.

“I will never argue against free enterprise,” Moharer said. “I am a product of free enterprise, and I live it every day. But free enterprise should never trump public safety, and that’s what I see in this bill.”

Moharer is also disappointed that Nichols didn’t reach out to him before drafting the bill.

“I operate the largest provider of this kind of transportation in his senate district,” Moharer said. “The absence of communication is discouraging.”

Although he has not yet seen the bill, Tyler Mayor Martin Heines said his tendency is to let the market work without undue interference.

“It’s Tyler’s way to allow the free market to operate, to let people make up their own minds,” he said. “And it appears, right now, that the marketplace is functioning just fine, without us.”

Nichols’ bill is Senate Bill 361.

Original post: http://www.tylerpaper.com/TP-News+Local/269452/texas-sen-robert-nichols-proposes-bill-regulating-uber-lyft-at-state-level

Jon Ouazdi

Admin

Avanti and A Ambassador Announce Merger

Avantassador

The Houston area Livery & Charter Association (HALCA) would like to congratulate Avanti Transportation and A Ambassador Limousine & Transportation about the merging of the two firms. It looks and sounds impressive. Congratulations, and best wishes for continued great success.

Avanti President and CEO Erich Reindl, A Ambassador President and CEO Mike Hajek, and their respective CFOs closed the merger on December 30, after roughly three months of conversations and determining how the two companies will combine their employees, fleet, offices, and resources. Reindl and Hajek were emphatic that the entire A Ambassador and Avanti Teams are welcome to stay on board.

“We explained that nobody is getting fired,” Reindl said. “We have no intention of letting anyone go.”

Reindl added that unifying the two Texas businesses will create one of the largest companies in not only the Houston region but also the state—and was a decision that both he and Hajek feel will yield untold benefits to both outfits.

“It’s a combination that gives both companies a great opportunity because we have something the other company doesn’t have, and vice versa,” Reindl said. “It’s a really good fit with incredible advantages down the road. We don’t overlap on any of our accounts. It’s really a compelling financial and strategic transaction, I think.”

AvantiWhile the two companies have a combined 150-vehicle fleet—including four buses from Avanti and 36 from A Ambassador, plus sedans, Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, and SUVs—Reindl said that they will work to “trim the fat,” getting rid of older vehicles that don’t need to be replaced to “increase the fleet’s efficiency.” 

The companies will work from Avanti’s three-acre property, which Reindl hopes to outgrow “in the near future,” as they combine their strengths to both companies’ benefit.

 

Aambassador

 

“A Ambassador has year-long contracts on their buses that Avanti doesn’t have. They work with passenger airlines where they transport the crew and the first-class passengers, while Avanti has the cargo airlines,” Reindl said. “I consider Avanti an old-style limousine company as we knew it 15 or 20 years ago. We are strong in that market and nationwide: We not only have affiliate work but also clients nationwide. That is our strength.”

The merger comes as a response to an ever-changing industry, one that Reindl sees as having changed tremendously in the past five years especially in ways that put larger companies at an advantage. 

“Smaller companies may run into difficulties moving forward—some of them are already facing hardships. I’m not saying a larger company doesn’t have that problem, but a larger company maybe has the resources to get through that. On top if it, we will be, as a larger company, able to attract and go after clients that smaller companies would not have the opportunity to,” Reindl said. “And with TNCs, we haven’t been as affected as the taxi industry—yet. But it could come. All I know is that the cake did not get any bigger and everyone out there is nibbling on the cake. I think at this stage, bigger is better.”

 

Jon Ouazdi

Admin

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City of Houston Approved WAV Companies

Houston WASP

Dear Limousine Operators,

The deadline for filing your contract for WAV service is January 12, 2017, and it is time to get your paper work in orders. The last few weeks we went through a turmoil of confusing information about requirements, approved vehicles, and the prices charged by these approved companies, but starting last week, things got better, and we managed to confirm some information about this issue

Below is a list of the Wheelchair Access Service Providers (WASP) that is approved by the City of Houston under Article 10. The companies are listed by pricing starting by the lowest.

 

TFT Charter Bus & Limo Services (they are not taking anymore contract for now)

$10 a month / $120 a year up to 3 cars

Tesfaye:  713-480-0039

Fikadu:  832-466-1287

Lodiso:  832-289-9685

They do not have an office, but they usually meet at the whole food in the galleria, you need to call them first to set a time to meet.

 

Houston WAV Services

https://houstonwavsvcs.com

Patrick Cox: (713) 491-2063

Monthly fee is $25 or $270 a year (you save 10% if you pay the whole year)

12335 Kingsride Ln, #390 Houston, Texas 77024

Prefer to call to set up a meeting time.

 

Luxury Paratransit of Houston

$25 a month / $300 a year

Duane: 713-636-8601

Fax: 713-636-8616

Email: duanehk@aol.com

Office: 5825 Kelly St Houston TX 77026

 

Yellow Cab

$25 a month / $300 a year

David Wells: 281-389-4730 email: dwells@houstonyellowcab.com

Nick Plazinich: 832-877-5765 nplazinich@houstonyellowcab.com

Lauren Smith: 713-428-5894 Lauren@houstonyellowcab.com

Melissa McGehee: 713-428-5836 mmcgehee@houstonyellowcab.com

Office: 1406 Hayes St Houston TX 77009

To book a trip for a wheel chair client call this number: 713-229-9999

 

 It is always recommended to call the company that you decide to go with, and verify all the information directly with them. If you have any questions or suggestions, please use the comment box below, and I will get back with you on the issue.

 

Jon Ouazdi

Admin

 

 

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I-10 near downtown closing for bridge repairs this weekend

I-10 near downtown closing for bridge repairs this weekend

The eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 near downtown will be closed this weekend, causing significant detours within the Interstate 610 Loop.

The Texas Department of Transportation is closing the highway to repair a portion of the Houston Avenue Bridge, which was struck by a too-tall truck in October.

Houston Avenue northbound over I-10 will be closed from 8 p.m. Jan. 6 through 7 a.m. Jan. 14. Southbound Houston Avenue will be closed from 8 p.m. Jan. 6 until 5 a.m. Jan. 9.

All eastbound I-10 lanes will be closed at the North Shepherd/Durham exit 9 p.m. Jan. 6 until 5 a.m. Jan. 9. Between I-610 and North Shepherd/Durham, only one to two lanes will be open for local traffic. Non-local traffic is encouraged to use the 610 Loop to avoid I-10, and large trucks traveling eastbound will not be allowed to detour through adjacent neighborhoods.

From 7:30 p.m. Jan. 6 until 5 a.m. Jan. 9, the following will be completely closed:

  • I-10 eastbound entrance ramps from Silber, Washington Avenue/Westcott, T.C. Jester, North Shepherd/Durham, Heights/Yale, Studemont and Taylor
  • I-10 eastbound exit ramps to Yale/Heights, Studemont and Taylor
  • I-10 east- and westbound entrance ramp from Woodway at the I-610 northbound frontage road near the Galleria
  • I-610 West Loop north- and southbound connector ramps to I-10 eastbound
  • U.S. 290 connector ramp to I-10 eastbound

There will also be a detour on the Houston Avenue bike trail from 9 p.m. Jan. 6 to 5 a.m. Jan. 9.

Work will continue overnight on Jan. 9 from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m., which could close up to four outside main lanes of I-10. Another total closure of I-10 eastbound is scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 20. Click here for more information about detours.

Jon Ouazdi

Admin