Small Jitneys Get Ruled Out

SMALL JITNEYS GET RULED OUT Amid promises that a new “Green Vehicle” ordinance scheduled to come to a vote in September will eventually cover smaller no-emissions vehicles, Houston’s city council today approved revisions to the jitney ordinance. The new jitney rules require all new fixed-route shuttle services to have a carrying capacity of 9 to 15 passengers. Smaller vehicles already licensed under the existing ordinance can continue to operate, but Erik Ibarra — whose Rev Eco-Shuttle business operates two 5-passenger electric vehicles Downtown, in Midtown, and on Washington Ave — won’t be able to expand his service with additional vehicles of the same type. Unlike the jitney ordinance, the proposed rules for green vehicles will likely not restrict pedicabs and electric carts like Ibarra’s to a fixed route. [HTV; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Rev Eco-Shuttle

23 Comment

  • such a great service, i’ve used it many, MANY times…too bad the big City machine has quashed what was an innovative idea that could have been expanded upon. tsk tsk

  • The only criteria for operating jitneys is safety. Otherwise, let the market rule. It would be nice to see Yellow Cab lose their near monopoly.

  • This is a sad day. Smaller operators were putting out a service people want to use. Yellow cab threw some money around and pushed them down.

    Mr. Ibarra should call himself a “shuttle service” and skirt the rules!

  • This is just ridiculous. The electric shuttle is great. If our cab services here want to provide a better service, they need to provide credit card services in ALL cars, hire people that can actually read the street signs in english, oh ya, and have drivers that actually know how to drive.

    The answer is better mass transit for all trolley’s shuttles for those areas of high concentration short rides. Houston just doesn’t get it. Ride on Mr. Escalade and Ms. Hummer – just ridiculous.

  • I actually agree with @kjb434 on something ;)

    I smell a backroom deal i.e Chicago & New York style.

  • This isn’t the first time this has happened in Houston. Anytime an entrepreneur tries to do something in the people moving game in Houston, Yellow Cab lobby’s heavily to stop it. The jitneys were a great solution after METRO’s idiotic decision to eliminate the downtown trolley buses. Yellow Cab fought with METRO to eliminate the trolleys to help their business. They didn’t count on the jitneys developing. Now they are slapping down the jitneys.

    Yellow Cab isn’t the only one in this game. METRO does it too. METRO fought the van pool and third party commuter services. METRO wasn’t successful in this fight when points outside of METRO’s service were the primary providers of Van Pool services.

  • Yellow cab only wants your business if you are going to Hobby or IAH. 0therwise the foreign born cabbies get downright nasty. So why does YC give a ratsa$$ about the Jitneys?

  • Because the jitney business could do well and grow to provide other services better than a cab ride to the airport. Yellow Cab is killing their business before it can grow.

  • A black eye for the city of Houston.

  • This slap-down of Mr. Ibarra’s business has the smell of under the table money wrapped in oil-slicked fish. If it’s not bribery, then it’s incredibly stupid. Folks, write/call your city council members & the mayor, show up at the council meeting for this thing.

  • I’ll put a call and email into Michael Berry. He has a call group that does exactly this. They barrage elected officials with either complaints or complements on their actions. Potentially destroying or extremely hampering a man’s business is something he would fight.

  • It stinks to high heaven…or City Hall.

  • There should be someone at city hall who monitors these websites. You know, for public opinion. As if they care.

  • No, citizens should call into the council members office and the mayor’s office. If enough call in, it can make a difference. It’ll be a waste of time and tax payer money to view websites to find public opinion.

  • Right……as if there is NO tax payer money being wasted already.

    I usually agree with you but honestly, I think that this and other local sites are a more rational measurement of public opinion than say…

    And don’t tell me that city hall doesn’t read the Chronicle.

  • Is this the same Mr. Ibarra that won the big settlement from Harris County?

  • Maybe stupidity like the jitney ordinance and the parking regulations should make us glad we don’t have more planning. I’d really hate to see Houston’s version of zoning if the regs we do have are any indication.

  • Cd, just read some of the stories from cities with strong planning departments where getting a permit can take months. That’s what happens when government decides we work for them rather than the other way around.

  • A good example:

    In Houston, a subdivision can go from blank piece of land to lots ready to build on in 12-18 months. In Austin it is easily 24-36 and in some cases 48 months before a house can start construction after a large tract of land is purchase for a subdivision. The end product is no different. The additional cost get passed on to the consumer.

  • Another practical solution hampered by politics. If Yellow Cab wanted the business, they should require a few cabs to focus on doing runs in Midtown and Washington Ave. Instead most of the cabbies like to sit at the airports waiting for a big fare. As someone who lives near Washington, I shouldn’t have to wait 15-20 minutes to get a cab, only then to hear the cabbie complain about my $7 fare. In Chicago cabbies made good $$ shuttling yuppies for $5-10 fares for 4 hours.

  • kjb434:

    I’ll put a call and email into Michael Berry. He has a call group that does exactly this. They barrage elected officials with either complaints or complements on their actions. Potentially destroying or extremely hampering a man’s business is something he would fight.
    Not so fast, kjb, here’s a link to a blogHouston post from a hwile back where Berry seems to be supporting a Yellow Cab monopoly. It’s about 2/3 of the way down.

    Yellow Cab is the evil empire. And the comment about cab drivers complaining when you take a short trip is true. We had some folks over from our office in Malaysia, and they were taking cabs around downtown and Midtown. On more than one occasion, they were told to get out of a cab when the driver found out they were a $5 fare. I talked to the City office that regulates cabs about it, their solution was to call the drivers into the office and have them sit for 4 hours, making no money. Far better than a fine.

  • KC:

    Same name. But if so, maybe the COH holds a grudge.

    Guess it could be researched.

  • FPH article on the jitney situation and the history of transportation in Houston.

    PS. When Michael Berry was head of TIA he received a $3,500 campaign contribution from Yellow Cab. HOWEVER, people should be allowed the opportunity to atone for their transgressions so maybe he will fight for the little guy this time around…