HOUSTON – Houston METRO is asking voters to approve a $3.5 billion dollar bond measure on the November ballot, but critics say the plan is light on details and wasteful spending.
What is the bond for?
METRO wants to borrow $3.5 billion to help pay for a long list of projects including new bus lines, rebuilt transit centers and expanded light rail. In ads flooding the airwaves and mailboxes, METRO touts a plan that includes 500 miles of travel improvements.
"When you make these kinds of investments, they are 20-year investments. It's to make sure we're taking those incremental steps that we can realistically fund and apply going forward to make sure we can deliver projects when we have the funding capacity to do so," said Tom Lambert, METRO's president and chief executive officer.
Will it raise taxes?
METRO said the bond does not involve new taxes.
The money from the bond will be repaid by future METRO revenues, according to the METRONext website.
What do critics say?
On Tuesday, a newly formed, non-partisan political action committee launched its campaign to get voters to reject the bond.
The campaign, Responsible Houston, said METRO can't be trusted to handle the bond money responsibly. The group cited a list of what they called "broken promises" related to projects started after voters approved a $640 million bond for METRO in 2003.
"We're not anti-rail, we're not anti-public transportation, as a matter of fact, quite the opposite. With responsible planning and responsible leadership, we can have a good public transportation system. But to ask for $3.5. billion to do this I think is irresponsible," said Bill Frazer of Responsible Houston.
When do voters make a decision on the bond?
Election day is Nov. 5, 2019.