The November 6 ballot will include a METRO referendum concerning the future allocation of METRO’S General Mobility Fund. The Houston Sierra Club Executive Committee recommends a NO vote on this measure.
Since 1988 25% of METRO’s sales tax revenue has been diverted from transit projects to a General Mobility Fund, which has been used by participating cities to fund road, drainage, and landscape projects. It has been estimated that as much as $2.5 billion has been diverted from transit purposes over the years. And that money could have been used to leverage additional matching federal funds for transit.
The proposed ballot measure has been promoted as a “compromise solution”, but it perpetuates the significant diversion of funds from transit to road projects. It would provide METRO with some additional funds after 2014 by giving METRO a 50% share of the increase in future sales tax revenue, but commits METRO to spending any increase on bus service. Passage of the measure will effectively prevent METRO from building the University Line and future segments of Houston’s proposed light rail network until 2025 or beyond – delaying significant transit development more than a decade.
The Houston Sierra Club has long advocated that Houston build a comprehensive and effective transit network that offers citizens a real transportation alternative. It is vitally important that Houston build out the currently proposed light rail network as quickly as possible and look to further transit expansions, including commuter rail. The sooner that Houston can build out a sufficient transit network, the sooner Houston can start realizing the full benefits. Therefore we prefer that the full METRO sales tax revenue be directed to projects that are directly transit related or enhance transit access.
Houston already has a vast system of roadways and freeways. Money has been poured into this roadway network for decades. Many of these roadway projects have caused significant environmental impacts by invading natural areas, impacting city parks and neighborhoods, adding to polluted rain water run off, and adding to noise and air quality problems. Now it is time to adjust priorities and spend our transit dollars on real transit projects. It is time to grow our transit infrastructure to meet the future needs of the region. It is time to let transit infrastructure catch up to road infrastructure. Vote NO on this referendum.
Full Story: Sierra Club: No to Metro
Source: Bayou Banner, October 1, 2012