Houston's $7.5 Billion Multimodal Transportation Plan
Dug Begley takes a closer look at the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s METRONext Moving Forward Plan that includes a series of bus, rail, and roadway projects. The plan outlines light rail extensions, proposed bus rapid transit routes, increased commuter and local bus service, and new high-occupancy vehicle lanes and park-and-ride facilities.
Begley says that projects are planned throughout Metro’s 1,200-square-mile service area to get more commuters using transit:
Inside the Sam Houston Tollway where buses travel most major streets and are more commonly used by residents, officials want to increase how often those buses come. Outside the beltway where more than 2 million of Harris County’s residents live, park and ride lots will be expanded and commuter buses will go to more places more often.
Critics, however, say that the plan does not do enough to provide transit service to growing job centers in the Houston area. They also point out that extending rail service to Hobby Airport should be less of a priority as these projects will be costly and will carry fewer riders than comparable BRT alternatives and other routes to more densely populated areas.
Funding for the $7.5 billion plan is still up in the air. About half of the money will come from federal sources, with the remainder coming mainly from sales tax revenue bonds. Metro has started conducting public meetings to get input and comments and expects to put the bond issue in front of voters in November.