The IRRESPONSIBLE MetroNext Bond Proposal
Metro (the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County) is asking voters to authorize Metro to issue $3.5 billion of sales tax supported bonds. These bonds will be used to support a $7.5 billion suite of projects that will require significant Federal Funds.
Why is this Irresponsible?
Metro claims these projects will require NO TAX INCREASE. It’s irresponsible and misleading to make this claim when future increases in area wide sales tax revenues will be used to repay the bonds. Metro is currently using 100% of its net sales tax base to fund existing operations and has run an operating deficit for the last 3 fiscal years. How can Metro fund the repayment of $3.5 Billion in bonds when 100% of its existing tax base is being consumed by existing operating losses?
Current Metro Operating Cash Flow is Negative
Published financial statements on Metro's website show that in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 Metro had Cash Flow from Operations of MINUS $55.0 million and MINUS $97.4 million respectively. It's IRRESPONSIBLE for Metro to issue sales tax supported bonds with it needs all of its sales tax revenues for current operations.
Metro Next has published NO cash flow analysis to support the use of sales taxes to repay the proposed bonds.
Metro Has NO Experience With Bus Rapid Transit
Metro claims it will build 75 additional miles of BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) lanes in areas that do not meet the density requirements of the Federal Transportation Administration. Metro claims it has never built one mile of BRT and has no track record operating BRT operations. Yet it wants taxpayers to spend $3.23 Billion on unproven and untested bus lines.
Expansion of Light Rail To Hobby is NOT Supported by Density
Metro wants to expand 2 of its seldom used southeast Light Rail lines to Hobby Airport. The proposed routes go through neighborhoods without the density requirements of the FTA and would involve trip times of over an hour from Downtown Houston to Hobby with 16 or more stops.
Metro Has Not Applied For Federal Grants/Matching Funds
The ability of Metro to obtain Federal grants or matching funds is dubious at best. The fact that none of the proposed LTR or BRT projects come close to meeting density guidelines is one major reason we question Metro’s claims of Federal funding. It’s IRRESPONSIBLE for Metro to imply it will receive Federal funds to complete an extensive capital project without having received initial approval by the agencies that grant those funds.
None of the Proposed Projects are Truly Committed
Metro representatives admit that they can and probably will make significant changes to proposed projects, routes and types of service. What you see probably won't be what you get. And if the proposed projects never happen, there's nothing you can do about it.
These are just a few of many examples why the MetroNext Bond Proposal is IRRESPONSIBLE
A responsible proposal would be to improve the existing bus system to meet the demands of riders.