Dallas Tows That Went Horribly So Wrong That Someone Was Maimed Or Killed

Categories: Transportation

Thumbnail image for apartmenttow.jpeg
Greg Houston
A Dallas tow company called Longhorn Wrecker may soon owe the state $88,900 in fines over towing violations. Reached for comment a few weeks ago, a bitter company representative said it was "all bullshit" and that his company had never been in trouble before. He apparently wasn't taking into account the civil lawsuit that, court records show, Longhorn Wrecker settled earlier this year with the family of a former employee who was killed on the job. The worker was shot and killed by an angry car owner, but his survivors would later blame Longhorn for putting him in a dangerous and violent situation.

The case, though unusual, isn't completely isolated. Over the past three years, there's been a few towing disputes that turned violent and deadly between employees of Dallas towing companies and pedestrians.

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Philip Kingston Is Pissed About the Mayor's Trinity Toll Road Breakfast

Here you go, Mr. Mayor.
One thing is clear after Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings' 15-minute speech Wednesday at a Trinity Groves breakfast: It can't possibly be about what he said it was about. There is no way that after all the time, all the "balloon juice," that's been expelled over the issue, that he can possibly be befuddled over what the road will look like or how he feels about it.
"I don't understand how a guy can be the mayor of Dallas and say that he's confused about this project. I don't think that's acceptable," says Philip Kingston, Dallas City Council member and curator of the Trinity Toll Road Naughty and Nice List.

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There's Now a Charmingly Rudimentary McKinney Avenue Trolley Live Map

Categories: Transportation

The McKinney Avenue Transit Authority has heard your cry, trolley rider for whom 15 minutes is just too long of a wait. The Uptown transportation provider now has a live map showing where each of its vehicles is at any given time.

It is exactly what it looks like in the screenshot above. Flat pictures of trolley cars moving on a flat Google maps background. Look at it long enough, and it's actually pretty soothing, almost as good as it will be to watch Uptowners who waited until the last possible moment sprint to get on.

Anchia Survey Finds That Everybody Hates the Damn Trinity Toll Road

Rafael Anchia
And the survey says...
The results are in from state Representative Rafael Anchia's survey of Dallas residents' feelings about the Trinity toll road. They are exactly what you'd expect.

Of 1,014 respondents who reported Dallas ZIP codes, only 42 said they supported the toll road, and 955 were against the toll road and. Somewhat inexplicably, 17 people cared enough to log in and take the survey but said they needed more information about a project that's been in the works for more than 15 years.

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Transportation Planners to Combat Hatred of Toll Lanes With Fabulous Prizes

Categories: Transportation

Flickr user be▲-t
OK, North Texas. Regional transportation planners have heard your shrill, anti-toll battle cry. They know you will not countenance a speculative private toll road that inexplicably runs from Wylie to Greenville. They also know you also hate those new "managed lane" thingies, which essentially charge drivers for using highway space that used to be free. Your concerns have been noted.

That said, have you really thought through the implications of your free-road libertarianism? Even with the $1.7 billion-per-year voters just gave TxDOT, there still isn't enough money to properly maintain existing roads, much less build new ones. There might be more potholes. Your beloved exurbs may become choked with traffic. And without new highways to fuel a further explosion of generic chain restaurants, will North Texas ever again experience the thrill that is a brand-new TGI Fridays? Planners like the North Central Texas Council of Governments' Michael Morris understand that paying tolls suck, but without them how can Texas possibly sustain its -- HEY LOOK AT THESE AMAZING PRIZES!

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New Rules for Taxis, Uber, Lyft, Etc. Up for December 10 Vote

Uber, Yellow Cab and Lyft's apps.
A debate that began more than a year ago when City Manager A.C. Gonzalez tried to slip an ordinance that would have banned car services like Uber and Lyft in Dallas will likely end December 10, when the council takes up new regulations for transportation-for-hire businesses.

The new regulations that will probably pass on the 10th -- it's clear that the proposal has at least eight votes from the 14 members of the council and the mayor -- are very similar to the existing regulations for cab companies, but they at least attempt incorporate the cell phone app-based services like Uber in a way that won't render them useless.

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Dallas Unveils World's Saddest Bike Sharing Program

Eric Nicholson
On Thursday afternoon, a dozen or so journalists stood in an awkward semi-circle near the Women's Museum at Fair Park, gazing at Dallas' first bike-share station. They had been promised that Mayor Mike Rawlings would be there at 3:30 p.m. to take the inaugural ride on one of the gleaming blue bicycles arrayed on the docking station before them, but the designated time had come and gone with no sign of the mayor. Dallas park director Willis Winters, the only punctual city official, stood on the fringe checking his email and looking not particularly eager to steal the show.

The reporters waited, grousing idly about the temperature, which hovered in the mid-30s. And they waited some more. Initially, the bike-share program at Fair Park was scheduled to go live early last summer, when it was still warm. But delays, including objections from the Dallas Landmark Commission over the location of one of the docking stations, delayed the unveiling to the fall, and the State Fair precluded an October debut. Hence the launch on the day of the season's first freeze.

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DART Is Confused About What Frequency Means to Its Riders

Categories: Transportation

One of these things is not like the others.
There is no worse feeling as a DART commuter than seeing your bus pull off seconds before you complete your jaywalk/sprint to the bus stop. The frustration of almost making it is bad enough, the fact that you'll have to wait a long time -- sometimes over an hour -- for the next bus to come is that much worse.

When DART asked its riders "What's important to you?" in a poll, "more frequent service" was far and away the top answer, which points out two of the primary issues in using DART for anything more than commuting to and from downtown. The first, the punishing feeling described above, is obvious. The second is more subtle, but is perhaps the greatest impediment to using DART as people in large cities typically use public transportation.

Because of the precision required to make those infrequent buses, it's nearly impossible to simply get out and use DART. You can't take DART to the grocery store because being in a checkout line slightly longer than you anticipated means you miss your return bus and your Ben and Jerry's melts at the bus stop. You can't tell a date you'll meet her at 7 because when you check the schedules you realize that you can either get to the restaurant at 6:42 or 7:22. You can't take DART to see the Cowboys because -- wait that's another issue.

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Here's TxDOT's Agreement with the Private Tollway Company That Has Eminent Domain Powers

Categories: Transportation

Mark Haslett
In January, before many people were aware that a little-known corporation with the powers of eminent domain wanted to build a private toll road through the rural communities east of Lake Lavon and Lake Ray Hubbard, the Texas Department of Transportation was promising in a written agreement to help the company get approval for the tollway from the Texas Transportation Commission. "TxDOT agrees to support the Corporation in its efforts to perform activities required to be completed before applying for or obtaining approval from the Commission under the applicable provisions by reviewing and commenting on the preliminary Project studies and other documentation prepared by the Corporation..." the agreement says.

The agreement, called a memorandum of understanding, also discusses a potential route for the tollway that has never been publicly discussed before, a route that would have invaded downtown Dallas: "In addition, a potential Phase III could extend the project westward from the President George Bush Turnpike towards the Dallas central business district," the agreement says.

In public meetings, the Texas Turnpike Corporation and the North Central Texas Council of Governments have only discussed a route that starts at the Bush Turnpike and extends east to Greenville, but that safely leaves all of us urban Dallasites out of the equation.

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Dallas' Sprawl Could Go on Forever Thanks to Self-Driving Electric Pod Cars, Researcher Says

Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler
Plano in 1891
Density is good. Regionalism is bad. Dallas' city government should focus on the city itself, not on getting in good with our suburban neighbors by forming partnerships that hurt the city itself. These are things Unfair Park has heard so often that it basically takes them to be true. For Dallas to become the proverbial "world-class city" it must focus on its urban core, promoting transit, walkability and growing up rather than growing out. If those things don't happen, the thinking goes, then the city's long-term existence is in doubt. We'll be crushed under the weight of toll lanes and the cars of distracted commuters scurrying north at the end of the workday.

What, though, if that wasn't true? What if there was a way forward for auto-centric, low-density cities ringed by suburbs that didn't require a paradigm shift so much as being just a little more purposeful about the trajectory the city was already on?

That's the idea proposed by Dr. Anthony Townsend, the Senior Research Scientist at the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management at New York University, in his paper "Re-Programming Mobility."

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