Houston area passes $3.5-billion transit bond issue (updated)

Public transit group hails result, as well as wins in other transit measures
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Houston-area voters have approved a bond measure which includes expansion of the city's light rail system.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority of Harris County

HOUSTON — Voters offered resounding support for a bond issue for the Houston area’s Metro Transit Authority on Tuesday, with more than two-thirds voting in favor of the $3.5 billion issue.

Proposition A — which would expand light rail and create new bus rapid transit lines— received 222,863 votes in favor, or 67.86%, against just 105,576 opposed, or 32.14%.

The money will fund the “MetroNEXT” plan, which would include four extensions of the current light rail system, with two lines being connected to the city’s Hobby Airport. In all, 16 miles of additional light rail will be added to the current 22.7-mile system. [See “Houston agency readies ballot measure on transit expansion,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 4, 2019.] Also in the plan are more than 25 miles of bus rapid transit routes.

The Houston result was one of six measures related to public transportation to pass on Tuesday. It was the only one with a specific rail component, although a measure passed in Maine could see some of a $105 bond offering devoted to railroads. Two other measures were defeated and one in San Francisco has not yet been decided.

The overall trend was hailed by the American Public Transportation association, which noted that 12 of 16 public-transportation measures have been approved this year. Three others will be addressed in elections before the end of the year.

“The voters have spoken and pledged their vote where they know it’s needed, by investing in public transportation,” said American Public Transportation Association President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “Last night, voters said ‘yes’ to measures that will expand and improve public transit, spur economic development and job creation, and connect communities and the people who live in them. These ballots once again underscore the importance of local, state, and federal partnerships in transportation investment.”

— Updated at 12:05 p.m. CST with other results, APTA statement.

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