Houston Transit Agency Moves Forward With Long-Range Plan Even as Revenue Falls

Despite reduced ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic, Houston Metro is pushing ahead with its $7.5 billion long-range transit plan.

1 minute read

August 29, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Houston

Silvio Ligutti / Shutterstock

Houston's transit agency "is full steam ahead on a host of projects aimed at adding buses to scores of routes and neighborhoods" despite falling revenue, reports Dug Begley.

"Efforts to advance the first waves of capital projects come as transit officials are retreating from more optimistic financial plans." Metro's $7.5 billion long-range plan includes dozens of projects and "relies heavily on federal grants, which could come quickly if Washington lawmakers approve budget and infrastructure bills in the coming weeks or months." The plan, dubbed MetroNext, includes a 25-mile bus rapid transit line that one Metro board member called "the crown jewel of MetroNext." While some critics dismiss BRT "as inferior to rail, officials have defended the decision to focus on BRT in Houston because it is cheaper and more nimble to route along the established freeway system."

"Combined with other upcoming transit projects, such as improvements to routes that include new stations and shelters and street changes so buses can pull out of traffic, Metro’s annual budget will swell from $889.9 million including scheduled debt repayments to $1.12 billion. The agency’s capital budget will jump by more than $121 million, while operations spending will increase nearly $115 million."

Metro officials say the spending will likely induce changes "as operations are adjusted to meet demand."

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 in Houston Chronicle

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