State of Metro
by: Capella Tucker, October 25, 2006 5:10:00 am
The speech by Metro President and CEO Frank Wilson was a multi-media presentation that opened with myths and facts about metro, using a well known line from the movie "A Few Good Men."
The truth, Wilson says, is that Metro is more than a bus company and is involved in every aspect of transportation in the city. Wilson outlined many projects on Metro's plate including a restructuring of fares that takes affect in December. Wilson touched on the light rail expansion which is expected to total $1.23 billion. Over the next six years, Metro expects to create 60,000 jobs over six years. The one thing Wilson did not touch was choosing a preferred route for the University line.
"I decided to ask the folks to help us put this show together for you whether this facility is bullet proof or not. It's not and I'm not."
And so all Wilson said is that the University line is coming. After the speech, he said the metro board will not rush to a decision.
"We've not adopted for ourselves an artificial timeline we don't have to meet any federal submissions or federal requirements until late next summer. We have time to do it right, we are bound to do it right which means we are going to get the community to give us as much input. We owe the community back now as an assessment of all the options they have asked us to look at which turned out to be 48."
Wilson says Metro is preparing 48 report cards spelling out the options and costs.
Daphne Scarbrough owns the Brass Maiden on Richmond and is involved in community groups against light rail on Richmond.
"The have no concern for retail there talking about 66,000 jobs in a 6 year time period and that does confirm what we have investigated in that they are very loose and fast with the numbers that this is going to be a 5 year construction project. In 5 years of not being able to go from one end of Richmond of not being able to drive and not being able to have your basic utilities, is not viable for anyone."
In other metro business, Wilson says Metro is moving forward with the idea of building an intermodal terminal in the Hardy Yards just north of downtown. This would tie into the commuter rail line Metro is pursuing where two of the routes would go along 290 and follow the old rail line to Galveston. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.