When George Greanias became President of METRO a year-and-a-half ago, one of the first things he had to do was settle a controversy over light rail cars. METRO had contracted to buy some cars from a Spanish company, in violation of "Buy American" provisions. That deal was called off. But Greanias says it wasn't the only crisis facing METRO when he arrived.
"At that point in time, the opportunity to get $900 million in federal assistance for our north and southeast corridors was very much in jeopardy. We resolved that. We had a number of lawsuits pending against the agency, which were all settled. And a variety of other issues, including financial questions, which have been, I think, resolved satisfactorily."
Greanias says the agency expects to sign agreements soon to receive that $900 million in federal money. The north and southeast light rail lines are set to be operational in early 2014. Greanias says now that some of METRO's immediate problems have been solved, the agency can now focus more on creating a long-term regional transit plan.
"We're going to be looking at things like our route structure for busses. For a long time, people have been concerned that we're not efficiently and effectively using our bus system."
Greanias says METRO also needs to work on partnerships with transit agencies in Montgomery and Galveston Counties, if this area is to have a truly effective regional transit program.