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TIA Committee

Meeting notes - Oct 22, 2009

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City Council Transportation, Infrastructure, and Aviation Committee
October 22, 2009, 2:00 pm

Houston Tomorrow publishes notes from public meetings to help local governments in their mission to provide transparency and to allow a greater pool of citizens to participate in important policy discussions.  These notes are not official meeting minutes, nor do they necessarily record every agenda item.

The Transportation, Infrastructure & Aviation Committee discussed City of Houston Parking Management and their efforts to improve the parking meter system. A representative from the City of Houston General Services Department explained that parking management has changed in recent years in the City of Houston from being simply an enforcement mechanism to focusing on economic develop and managing curb space.

The Houston Airport System (HAS) presented on a proposed no-bid concession agreement between HAS and New South Parking that they believe will save $1 million in cost savings as opposed to finding a new provider for the same services. As part of the concession agreement, a GoGreen effort is expected to fund the conversion of airport shuttle buses to Compressed Natural Gas as part of a American Recovery and Reinvestment Act program. One of the reasons given for staying with the current provider is that these funds are only available for operations that have been going at least 2 years. The Committee voted unanimously to pass this agreement on to City Council.

Item 4 on the agenda on a mixed use development was delayed until the next meeting.

H-GAC Regional Transit Framework Study
Pat Waskowiak from the Houston-Galveston Area Council and Scott Miller, a consultant from HDR, presented the plans for the Regional Transit Framework Study that H-GAC is beginning to undertake. Waskowiak explained that this has been a long time coming. They will look at various regional transit issues, including how to enhance existing services, expand services, and make the best use of federal dollars coming to the region. The study will have three major phases: Research, Develop & Analyze Options, and Recommendations, with public and agency involvement and briefings planned throughout the process.  The entire study is expected to be complete by September 2010 with the early analysis ready in February or March 2010. While the study will analyze all possible modes of transit and across the region, it will stick to the big picture needs and opportunities and will not make recommendations on site or project specific details.

During the presentation, Committee Chair Sue Lovell asked how the study would be funded and Waskowiak responded that it is funding by Federal transportation funds specifically allocated to regional planning in the transportation bill. Lovell later asked if H-GAC’s Transportation Policy Council (TPC) and regional transit agencies will be involved in this study, to which Miller responded yes, before noting that the Regional Transit Framework Study has its own Technical Advisory Committee, separate from the one that advises the TPC. Lovell asked specifically if the Gulf Coast Rail District would be involved, as they were missing from a slide that named all the current transit providers in the region, and Miller responded that a representative from the GCRD is on the advisory committee. In some parts of the study, the region will be divided into four districts according to current transit providers: Harris County (METRO), Fort Bend and Waller Counties (Fort Bend Transit and Colorado Valley Transit), Galveston and Brazoria Counties (Island Transit and Connect Transit), and Montgomery, Liberty, and Chambers Counties (The District).

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