The Greater Houston Partnership hosted its annual State of METRO address on Wednesday.
GHP President Jeff Moseley welcomed the crowd to the meeting at the Westin Oaks Hotel. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Walt Mischer, chair of the GHP Transportation Policy Committee thanked the sponsors of the event and introduced GHP Vice Chair Anthony Chase, who in turn introduced George Greanias, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Greanias presented an overview of METRO, detailing the various modes that are used to transport passengers. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
“We have some 1,300 buses stopping at 1,200 stops throughout the service area,” Greanias said. “We run the METRORail service, which currently is only seven and one-half miles.”
Greanias noted that the rail line, which runs from Reliant Park to the University of Houston-Downtown, is the “second most heavily traveled passenger light rail line in the country, second only to Boston”.
Greanias said that the line has generated almost $4 billion in development since 2004.
However, he said that rail is not the only focus of METRO, noting that park and ride service is expanding and listed high occupancy vehicle lanes, METRO Lift paratransit service, the vanpool program, bikes on buses, and other options that are available for passengers.
“METRO is not rail-oriented only,” he stressed. “METRO is oriented toward whatever works. So, whether it’s a bus, a train, a trolley, a taxicab or, God forbid, a Yak; I will move people around this town.”
Greanias announced that on Monday METRO will be joined by federal officials, including members of Houston’s congressional delegation, and other elected officials, for the signing of the Full Funding Grant Agreements for the North and Southeast rail lines.
“Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and will sign contracts for $900 million in federal funds for the North and Southeast corridors,” Greanias said to applause from the audience. “I think this represents a conclusion by the federal government that METRO is serious about transit and it will be a good partner, and is somebody worth investing in."