HOUSTON – The voters have spoken and now Metro Transit Authority-Proposition A is a reality.
METRO has the cash flow to complete some needed projects like the 75 miles of rapid bus service with an extension to Bush Airport and the addition of the 16 miles of light rail with service to Hobby Airport. Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved Proposition A, which allows METRO to borrow $3.5 billion over 20 years to complete 40 projects.
The money voters approved Tuesday night, however, is only half of what is needed to finish all 40 projects METRO included in its plan. The plan is to get the other half of the needed money from federal tax dollars. If that doesn’t work, METRO concedes that it may have to eliminate some of the projects.
Metro Board Chair Carrin Patman said METRO passengers made it clear during public meetings held before the vote that they wanted access to the airports and faster commutes from the suburbs to Houston.
But there has been some opposition to Proposition A and now that it has been voted on, the group Responsible Houston is vowing to act as a watchdog over how METRO uses the $3.5 billion.
"We are going to try to hold their feet to the fire and make them accountable for what they do," said Bill Frazer of Responsible Houston.
The group campaigned against Proposition A, saying METRO had overpromised and underdelivered in past bond elections. METRO has pushed back, saying what the money is spent on is written into the proposition and that it’s legally bound by it.
Responsible Houston, meanwhile, has also pushed for increased spending on drainage of public roads to avoid the flooding that Houston experienced during Hurricane Harvey and other storms.
"Up to 25 percent of the money we collect from the sales tax is rebates to the city of Houston, the county and the smaller cities in our service area," said Patman.