David Crossley wrote an excellent editorial yesterday, which you can find here. His key point: 25% of the Houston region’s Transit Tax is diverted to highway projects, plus a very large percentage of METRO’s capital budget (outside of the 25% diversion of funds) has to be used to expand, improve, and otherwise rebuild streets that METRO operates major transit on. That’s not just the light-rail streets, it also includes a number of major bus streets (such as the roads coming into downtown via the Spur in midtown).
As Minister Robert Muhammad said in a 2009 blog post, “The public transportation system of Harris County has been looted for the past 21 years by the City and county to the tune of $2.5 billion. Let me be explicit, 25% of public transit revenue from the one cent public transit sales tax has gone for street, drainage, and landscaping projects. This is NOT what voters established Metro to do when it was created in 1978.”
Muhammad also pointed out that the $2.5 billion could have been used to leverage another $2.5 billion in federal money over the years, so more than $5 billion has been lost that could have already produced the expansion of transit system we need.
This kind of stuff is just ridiculous, and it’s got to stop.