Houston's first official jitney service growing fastI was recently able to have lunch with fellow Rice alum Lauren Barrash to talk about her rapidly growing jitney transit service, The Wave. What started as a small shuttle service for nightlife on Washington Avenue has grown to multiple shuttles now serving the Heights and Midtown, with downtown shuttle service coming soon - all with Metro's full blessing and permitted by the city's brand new jitney ordinance. There are plans to expand to Montrose, Shepherd, and Kirby - and even Austin and Dallas (not from here - intra-city, not inter-city). She is proving that private transit can work, at least in selected niches.
Here are some of their details that I think readers of this blog would find interesting:
The Wave is a high quality, fixed route, fixed rate, permitted jitney service running within the Washington Corridor, Midtown and the Heights, connecting people and places, while helping to resolve theses area’s immediate & critical needs. The Wave promotes ease of movement, encourages transit use and enhances existing public transportation systems, while also helping to reduce congestion and improve public safety. The Wave improves Houstonian’s quality of life by connecting people and places with reliable, safe, and easy-to-use travel choices that reduce congestion and energy use, save money, and promote sustainability, healthier lifestyles, and a more environmentally responsible community.
But what is a jitney everyone asks. Wikipedia definitions below:
“A jitney is a North American English term which originally referred to a livery vehicle intermediate between a taxi and a bus. It is generally a small-capacity vehicle that follows a rough service route, but can go slightly out of its way to pick up and drop off passengers. In many U.S. cities (e.g. Pittsburgh and Detroit), the term jitney refers to an unlicensed taxi cab.”
“The name jitney comes from an archaic, colloquial term for a five-cent piece in the US. The common fare for the service when it first came into use was five cents, so the five-cent cab or jitney cab came to be known for the price charged.”
How Houston defines a jitney:
Houston Code of Ordinances, Chapter 46, Article VI defines a jitney as: “a motorized passenger vehicle having a manufacturer's rated seating capacity of not less than nine nor more than 15 persons including the driver, that is operated upon a closed loop route following specified streets and highways in a specified direction, and is operated without a fixed schedule, carrying passengers from place to place in exchange for a fee.” (as of August 12, 2010)
The Wave is a locally owned, private, officially permitted “jitney” shuttle company created to enhance the economic urban development within Houston. Most are surprised to hear about our rapid growth in such a short period of time, as changing Houstonians perception of public transit is quite the challenge.
There are several forces that indicate that The Wave & its services are a necessity:
- Explosion of development - several new bars, restaurants, retail stores, gyms, and other businesses have already opened in the last couple of years and many more are already in the planning stages
- Increased daily traffic volumes - with all the new activity, comes an increase in visitors to this area, making parking and traffic challenging to both residents & visitors
- Public safety - many of the establishments in the Washington Corridor serve alcohol and are open late, increasing the number of drivers on the road who have potentially consumed alcohol in this area, thereby increasing the risk of accidents, injuries, and deaths
- Quality of Life - for the near 44,000 residents of these neighborhoods, the jitney services would serve as a much more economical and efficient mode of transportation than their current personal transportation options, thereby making the entire area easily accessible to them
- Current transportation issues - The Metropolitan Transit Authority bus system currently does not have late night service in this area & this demographic are not typically public transit users in this city, cab service is not a viable option for these short distances
- Residential parking permits - residents of Super Neighborhood 22 on 3 blocks North and 3 blocks South have been issued permits for their cars & guests in an attempt to reserve the street parking for the area home owners and residents, thus limiting the number of patrons of the Washington Cooridor who can park on the street
- Pending parking changes along Washington Ave - thus limiting the amount of time and time of day/night patrons of these businesses can park
- Pending valet ordinance - giving less viable parking spots for this service
The Wave resolves most of these issues with our expansive parking lots, a taxi stand in one of our parking lot, and shuttle service from the parking lot.Lauren's creating a great asset for Houston. Please give it your support, and be sure to tell your friends (or even charter them for special events). Facebook users can start by Liking their Facebook page.