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Metro and the Mayor’s race

This went pretty much as one would expect.

Delivering his fourth State of Mobility speech to Transportation Advocacy Group-Houston Chapter, Mayor Sylvester Turner echoed previous years, noting the region needs more options than solo driving if it is to handle the deluge of new residents in the future.

“We need to find ways to move people efficiently and quickly, and that means more than just building more highways,” Turner said.

While touching on the many improvements needed in the region, including deepening the Houston Ship Channel to keep the Port of Houston an attractive call for ships and support of a high-speed rail line from Houston to Dallas, much of the session was spent on the upcoming transit plans.

“We cannot continue to operate a transportation system as if it was 30 years ago,” Turner said.

[…]

“Given the congestion we have now… we must build out our system,” Metro Chairwoman Carrin Patman said.

Patman and others said most of the summer will be spent selling voters on the plan, though officials believe it has strong support.

“Of course, we will have some naysayers,” Patman said.

That includes some of Turner’s opponents in the mayoral race, which also will be on the November ballot. Bill King and Tony Buzbee both have said Houston has invested too much in public transit to the detriment of suburban commuters.

Asked during a June 10 Kingwood forum on transportation solutions, King said “it is not transit or light rail” while congratulating Metro on its commuter bus efforts.

Buzbee focused his remarks at the event on the need to improve neighborhood streets and synchronizing traffic lights for better efficiency. He called the Metro plan too focused on a small portion of the city.

“It is more about career politicians telling us public transit is good,” Buzbee said.

So, Bill King cares more about people driving in from The Woodlands than anything else, while Buzbee demonstrates zero grasp of the topic at hand. As for Dwight Boykins, he wasn’t quoted in the story, probably because he wasn’t at the event. Insert shrug emoji here.

Look, Metro has come a long way since the dark days of Frank Wilson and David Wolff. There are more HOV lanes, a vastly improved bus system, more light rail, good ridership numbers, and forward-thinking planning from the Board and the Chair. All that is at risk, not just with the MetroNext plan on the ballot but also Mayor’s race. All the good work being done goes right out the window if a transit-hostile or transit-ignorant Mayor gets elected. Sylvester Turner is the only choice if you care about transit. It’s not even close.

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5 Comments

  1. David Fagan says:

    I won’t vote for $7,500,000,000 worth of bonds for metro projects. Mayor Turner said the city is strapped, it’s on the verge of a financial cliff, it is in danger of becoming another Detroit! What about the credit rating?!?! Don’t mess with the credit rating! Mayor Turner supports $7,500,000,000 worth of new debt? Oh, the HORROR! Doesn’t he know there is a REVENUE CAP!??!!!

    Don’t Vote For Turner, he’s created a lot of problems.

  2. Terrance says:

    Metro and the City of Houston are two different entities.

  3. David Fagan says:

    Then what would voting for Sylvester Turner have to do with it? The mayor only appoints people and nothing else? “if a transit-hostile or transit-ignorant Mayor gets elected. Sylvester Turner is the only choice if you care about transit. It’s not even close.” This statement must be some kinda mislead, or something. I, as a reader, feel misled if metro and the city of Houston are two different entities and it is encouraged to vote for a mayor, solely based on “transit-hostile or transit ignorant” wording, and the mayor has little or nothing to do with it. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

  4. C.L. says:

    What happened to the beef with Turner and HFD over Prop B ? Have we moved to the next contrived crisis in line ?

  5. Thomas says:

    METRO and the City of Houston are indeed two separate government entities with separate budgets and debt capacities. However, the City of Houston appoints five of the nine members of the METRO Board of Directors. METRO also needs the City of Houston’s cooperation to build any sort of physical transitway (rail or bus lanes) in city right-of-way.

    If the METRONext referendum passes but Bill King is elected mayor, he can circumvent the will of the voters in two ways:

    1. Appointing people to the METRO Board who will refuse to enact the voter-approved plan, and/or

    2. Installing city staff (e.g. the director of Public Works and Engineering) that will refuse to cooperate with METRO in implementing their capital projects.

    This is exactly what Bob Lanier did thirty years ago. I wouldn’t put it past Bill King (who comes across as kind of a sleaze to begin with) to do this as well.