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The tasks before the new Metro board

The new Metro board has its work cut out for it.

Gilbert Garcia, the financial analyst nominated by Mayor Annise Parker Thursday as Metro’s new board chairman, said the controversies won’t prevent him and his colleagues from proceeding diligently with Metro’s business.

“My job is to get us back on mission,” Garcia said. “With a new administration, this is an excellent time to focus on really increasing customer service.”

The challenges the board will face include improving bus service, continuing work on three light rail lines and coming up with the money for two more, and launching a new commuter rail project.

The board will be tasked with doing all this amid a challenging economic environment and skepticism in some quarters that Metro’s priorities, particularly light-rail, represent the best use of its assets.

It’s been a rough couple of months for Metro, and the new board’s task list is long, but I feel confident they’re up to it. Improving communications, which is key to repairing relationships with various stakeholders, is probably job one, and it seems clear that a change of CEO will help with that. I’ve seen the transition team’s report, and much of what they talk about flows from this. It’ll be interesting to see what’s on their agenda next month for their first official meeting.

(If you haven’t seen the transition team’s report – I couldn’t find it on the city of Houston web page – I’ve got the main docs uploaded:

Report of the Committee on Regional Transportation

Report of the Light Rail Punchlist Committee

Report of the Funding Structure Committee

Report of the Basic Services Committee)

The story also contains a quote from Bill King’s latest anti-rail screed, which was published in Sunday’s paper. It’s basically another lecture from a rail opponent telling us that the 2003 referendum means what he says it means. I’m not sure why some people want to keep arguing about that after all these years, but maybe the new board will listen to him. But because I can’t help myself, I’ll say this much: We’ve spent a ton of money in recent years, and will spend a ton more in the coming years, making it easier to get to and from the far-flung suburbs. The light rail system represents the first thing the city has done since I first moved here that makes it easier for those of us who spend most of our time getting around inside the Loop to do so. I say the latter is as much a priority and a need as the former. I don’t see why that’s so hard to understand, or why it seems to represent such a threat to some people.

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  1. JJMB says:

    Let’s talk after richmond rail is built. I am guessing at grade rail will totally mess up traffic and will not carry near enough people to make up for it. Just try crossing Main Street these days. And spend an hour between Hermann Park and downtown counting people on the train — they aren’t very full at all. So, the future of the Shepherd and Richmond intersection? Kirby and Richmond? Ha!! I’ll never get through those backups again.

    But the rail people have won and will get their way. I hope you all are right. If you are right and I am wrong, and it winds up being great, I’ll deliver a nice bottle of wine to your house. I’ll be happy to pay off. But I am thinking instead I will be saying I told you so.

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