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More on Wilson’s departure

More evidence that Metro CEO Frank Wilson is about to be history: The Metro board has a replacement in mind.

The board is expected to name George Greanias, a former city councilman and controller who co-chaired Mayor Annise Parker’s Metro transition committee, as interim chief executive, the sources said. A national search would be undertaken for a permanent replacement, they said.

The sources cautioned that arrangements for Wilson’s separation from Metro were not final. “Decisions get made at board meetings,” one source said.

True enough, but stuff like this usually doesn’t get leaked by accident, either. I wouldn’t bet against this happening.

Assuming it does, Greanias will have a very short period of time in which to defuse the latest threat Metro faces, to the $900 million in FTA grant money.

Concerns also have emerged about whether Metro, under Wilson’s leadership, has taken actions that might jeopardize a $900 million federal grant the agency is awaiting for two of the three rail lines under construction now. The agency’s website outlines plans to complete these three lines, plus two others in earlier stages of development, by 2012.

In late April, the Federal Transit Administration launched an investigation of Metro’s compliance with “Buy America” rules in its purchase of rail cars from a Spanish company. Metro, which must demonstrate compliance with the rules to receive the federal funds, is preparing a reply due by May 14.

I sure hope they have a good reply to make. Lisa Falkenberg’s column today is making me nervous. Good luck with that, George.

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  1. pulled that one fast! It was datelined last night at 9:49.

    I’ve noticed this before. The afternoon-evening staff at the Chronicle posts anti-light rail articles, only to have them pulled in the morning.

    Why is it that no one cares than DART bought 100 light rail cars whose builder’s plates clearly indicate that they were built in Yokohama?

    The article said, before it was pulled, that two CAF cars were built in Spain for Houston Metro. These sound like prototypes to me. The Houston CAF light rail cars, the rest of them apparently, are supposed to be built at CAF’s plant in Elmira, NY.

  2. Thomas says:

    “Why is it that no one cares than DART bought 100 light rail cars whose builder’s plates clearly indicate that they were built in Yokohama?”

    Because they’re being used on routes that were 100% locally funded.

  3. Mike says:

    >>Because they’re being used on routes that were 100% locally funded.

    Still, you’ve got to be kidding me that 2 cars could jeopardize $900 million in funding. I think the Feds want us to know that we screwed up, and that the Buy American stuff is to be taken seriously, but if they were to end up not giving us the money over this… I just don’t think that is a legitimate / possible outcome. Then again, I didn’t think the stock market could go down 10% in 5 minutes, so what do I know…

  4. “Because they’re being used on routes that were 100% locally funded.”

    Houston’s Red Line was 100% locally funded. DART has been funded by the Federal Transit Administration all along. Kay Bay Hutchison has been to a lot of ribbon cutting ceremonies for DART light rail. For example:

    “October 2, 1999

    US Transportation Secretary Slater Signs DART Funding Agreement in Dallas”

    Federal Transit Administration Deputy Administrator Nuria Fernandez and DART President/Executive Director Roger Snoble signed a $333 million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) to help pay for construction of an extension of DART’s North Central rail line. ”

    How about this Railway Age article from 1994:

    “Expanding light rail. With the end in sight for the starter system, DART planners are turning their attention to later sections called for in the 1989 service plan. Most likely to move ahead next are a 10.2-mile extension in the Noah Central corridor to PIano, and an 11.5-mile Norteast corridor line branching from the North Central line at Mockingbird Lane to Garland. Both lines would operate in former railroad rights-of-way acquired by DART. A draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and preliminary engineering to about the 10% design level are under way for the North Central line, and DART is pursuing a letter of no prejudice agreement with FTA. Studies for the Northeast line are not far behind, and DART is just beginning the development of a Major Investment Study (MIS), which replaces the Alternatives Analysis/DEIS in the federal process.”

    DART light rail was federally-funded from the get-go, including the Kinkisharyo cars. Phoenix’ Valley Metro’s and NJ Transit’s light rail cars were also built by Kinkisharyo, and also were federally funded.

    Sound Transit in Seattle was FTA-funded. There is this article:

    “Sound Transit has placed a $US 108.6 million contract with Kinki Sharyo, Japan, for 31 light rail vehicles for the 22.5km line from the city centre to Tukwila.(Seattle)”

    Thomas, kindly offer some evidence that Dallas light rail was *not* federally funded.

  5. Forgot the link for the October 2, 1999 article:

  6. […] In the meantime, maybe we’ll finally get more local rail infrastructure built out, assuming nothing else goes wrong with […]