Houston Metro may continue to expand plans for public transportation improvements


YI-CHIN LEE/Houston Chronicle via AP

In this photo from January 10, passengers board METRORail train in Houston. The Houston Chronicle reports Metropolitan Transit Authority officials are still tweaking the agency’s long-term plan that’s estimated to start with $7.5 billion in improvements.

Associated Press

HOUSTON — Houston’s proposed rail expansion could get bigger.

Metropolitan Transit Authority officials are still modifying the agency’s long-term plan that’s projected to begin with $7.5 billion in improvements, the Houston Chronicle reported. The enhancements would be used to develop 66 miles of bus rapid transit and at least 16 miles more of light rail.

Metro is still reviewing proposals that include a light rail extension to Hobby Airport. As metro officials finish the bus and rail plans, residents will have one last opportunity at a community meeting this month to shape them before the November ballot.

“We are headed in the right direction, based on all our community input,” Metro chairwoman Carrin Patman said, citing the response from elected officials, community groups and commenters at dozens of meetings around the area. “I think we are moving toward a wonderful plan to take out to the voters.”

A 0.2-mile expansion of the green and purple light rail lines is already included in the long-term plan, which would extend from the western end of the Theater District to the Houston Municipal Courthouse.

“I would be really curious what the ridership models will show,” said Metro board member Sanjay Ramabhadran.

Officials emphasized the proposal is still being assessed and not yet part of the plan.

“We’re looking at it,” Patman said.

With few details outlined, many residents applauded the possibility of light rail improvements.

“I’d get rid of my car to ride it,” said Paul Miles, 32, who lives nearby.

Metro board member Jim Robinson said all lines should offer parking at their ends to lure commuters.

“Regardless of how we get to Hobby, I think it is paramount we put a park-and-ride lot at the end of it,” Robinson said.

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