Opinion: Houston Should Vote Yes for MetroNext to Build Transit and Clean the Air

The executive director of Environment Texas makes the case for public transit as a key tool in improving air pollution in and around Houston. Houston voters will vote on the MetroNext bond referendum today.

2 minute read

November 5, 2019, 8:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Texas Commute

TBaker770 / Shutterstock

Cars are responsible for an increasing number of bad air days in Houston, according to an op-ed by Luke Metzger, and it's time for the city to focus on cleaner transportation alternatives.

Continuing to double down on costly car-centric infrastructure will only induce more demand for driving and lead to more pollution and congestion, as the expansion of the Katy Freeway years ago proved. Because Houston can’t prosper without clean air, we must clean up the way we get around. And Houstonians can help do that by voting to approve Metro’s bond referendum on this November’s ballot.

If approved, the bond would provide $3.5 billion in funding to implement the MetroNext Moving Forward Plan.  

MetroNext will include 75 miles of new bus rapid transit — fast, convenient service that works like light rail, with dedicated lanes and new stations. MetroNext will include 290 miles of “boosted” routes, which will keep buses moving and prevent idling. It will create 16 miles of new light rail, which is electric, and it will fund a 25 percent increase in local bus service, adding new routes and rebuilding stops with shelters and real-time passenger information, It also will enhance accessibility improvements to help people on foot and on bikes walk or ride to cover that first and last mile to and from stops.

The benefits to mobility are one reason to vote for the bond, according to Metzger, but improving the air in Houston is the main selling point. "With MetroNext, by 2040, Houston will see as many as 500,000 vehicle trips eliminated every day. That will reduce the region’s ground-level ozone pollution and our greenhouse gas emissions by 680,000 metric tons every year."

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