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Transportation

Metro Approves Budget For FY 2017, Includes Improving Bus Stops and Transit Infrastructure

Metro’s board has approved a billion-dollar budget for the new fiscal year. But officials say they’ll have to watch it closely, as they anticipate a possible drop in sales tax revenues.

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Metro's budget will fund bus and rail operations, along with park and rides, paratransit, HOV lanes, and commuter vans.
Gail Delaughter
Metro’s budget will fund bus and rail operations, along with park and rides, paratransit, HOV lanes, and commuter vans.
Metro board members hear public comment at their September meeting.
Gail Delaughter
Metro board members hear public comment at their September meeting.

Metro's spending plan includes $568 million for operating expenses and another $178 million for capital costs. In total, the budget is over $70 million smaller than last year's.

Factored into the budget is an anticipated 1% drop in sales tax revenue because of the downturn in the oil and gas industry. Metro Chairman Carrin Patman says they'll have to proceed carefully.

"I think we've made some conservative estimates that mean it can only go up from here," says Patman. "So I think we'll be prepared for the downturn and hopefully we'll get a pleasant surprise and be able to do more than we think we can."

So what will riders see in the new fiscal year?

Metro CEO Tom Lambert says the budget contains about $4 million to improve bus stops and transit infrastructure, something the agency says it needs to do to get more people on board.

"So you're going to see us roll out a strategy of specific stops, and we've got those identified, and where we're going to be focusing on," adds Lambert. "But at the same time, we're working on what we're doing, we're looking at what the city is doing, we're looking at what management districts are doing."

Despite the concerns over projected sales tax revenues, Metro says it currently has $152 million in reserve. Officials say setting that money aside helps improve the agency's bond rating.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

News Anchor

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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