Even with fewer riders hopping aboard and a more dour financial outlook, Metro officials say the agency is full steam ahead on a host of projects aimed at adding buses to scores of routes and neighborhoods.
That includes an approval scheduled for Thursday by the Metropolitan Transit Authority board to commit $40 million to development of a planned bus rapid transit line from around Tidwell and Interstate 69 to Westchase, via Denver Harbor, downtown, Midtown, Greenway Plaza and Uptown.
The project, similar to the Silver Line along Post Oak that opened a year ago and uses dedicated bus lanes to deliver service to stations akin to light rail, is one of dozens in Metro’s $7.5 billion long-range plan. That plan, approved by voters in November 2019, relies heavily on federal grants, which could come quickly if Washington lawmakers approve budget and infrastructure bills in the coming weeks or months.
“If we can get our ducks in a row on as many corridors as we can, that is good for the agency,” said Metro board member Sanjay Ramabhadran.
Metro submitted a preliminary application for funding related to the so-called University Line bus rapid transit project to the Federal Transit Administration in late July. Houston transit officials heard back from their federal counterparts in one week, a quick turnaround for a first series of questions, said Shri Reddy, executive vice-president of planning, engineering, and construction at Metro. Among the issues raised by federal officials was more assurance that Metro had committed money for developing the project, prompting Thursday’s vote.
That story was published on Wednesday; on Thursday, the board approved the money as planned, while giving me a bizarre sense of deja vu.
METRO will commit $40 million for two years to start developing the project. Board Member @sanjayram2000 says the agency’s request to the @FTA_DOT was “well-received”
— Gail Delaughter (@Gail_HPM) 11:08 AM – 26 August 2021
Seriously, Afton Oaks? After all this time? I mean, it’s all residential on that stretch of Richmond, so I doubt any stops there would be busy, but geez. Anyway, Metro is projecting less revenue now than it had originally planned for and that could lead to some uncomfortable decisions about service levels down the line if actual revenue is in line with that, but that’s a concern for later. For now, this is a good start.