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Mayor and Metro spar over fares

Soon-to-be-former Metro Chair David Wolff has sent a letter to Mayor Parker in response to her recent comments about possibly reducing fares as a way of increasing ridership.

Eliminating fares on Metro buses and trains, as Mayor Annise Parker recently suggested, would cripple the agency’s light-rail expansion plans and force reductions in service to people who depend on public transportation, board chairman David Wolff said [Thursday].

At the close of the monthly board meeting, Wolff read aloud his Feb. 11 letter to Parker responding to her comments in a Houston Chronicle article published three days earlier. Parker’s suggestion that the Metropolitan Transit Authority should explore the idea of eliminating fares to increase ridership, Wolff said, was “not thoroughly thought out.”

Parker responded that Wolff seems to have missed her point that Metro should “think outside the box” and refocus on its mission of serving the public rather than on boosting the share of its revenues that come from fares. Wolff, she said, has presided over an agency “that in my opinion, has been stuck in neutral for six years.”

The mayor said she expects to get reports in the next few weeks from committees she appointed to study Metro, and she intends to replace Wolff and perhaps other board members soon after that.

You can see a copy of the letter here. There’s no love lost between Wolff and the Mayor, that’s for sure. I look forward to seeing what Mayor Parker’s transition team has to say, and who she has in mind to replace Wolff and other board members.

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3 Comments

  1. Peter Wang says:

    Speaking as a frequent METRO user (bus, HOV bus, and occasionally light rail), eliminating or lowering the fares would be disaster in terms of impact on quality of service, which is already only fair, sometimes poor.

  2. Mike says:

    Metro has been stuck in neutral for the past 6 years? They’ve introduced a lot of new routes, including Quickline, started on construction of some of the rail lines, etc. Sure I’d like them to be farther along on the rail lines but the delays do not seem to be internal – it is not as if we are waiting on Metro – we have been and still are waiting on the feds to give us money. I think David Wolff did an admirable job in a fairly thankless position – but I’ll admit I’m not much of an insider. But from the outside I’m not really sure who Parker is trying to appeal to here… I agree with Wolff that the loss of revenue in the short run would just cripple Metro’s current project slate.

  3. […] items that came up: The idea of maybe reducing the fares seems like a non-starter – if you are committed to building the rail lines, then as Moncur […]