Sunday, February 8, 2015

Partial Commentary: METRO Board Regular Meeting Thurs. 25 Sept. 2014

8 Feb. 2015 - I will never ever get the full commentary for this horrible METRO Board Meeting from 25 September 2015 done.  Hence, I've decided to give you what I have so far.

As-always, METRO's Board Meeting videos are available at

I suggest you watch this meeting in-full.  Bring some popcorn.

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25 September 3:33pm: I was unable to attend today's regular METRO Board Meeting, but while we wait anxiously for the video to be put online, I do know System Re-imagining was approved by the Board...but not really.  We'll see how things went in full and lurid detail, but this I do know: the meeting video is four-and-a-half hours long, which by METRO standards probably has to be the longest Board or committee meeting in the past four or five years.

As always, Board meeting videos can be found at

The agenda for today's meeting may be had directly at and while it does not have that much verbiage, budget and System Re-imagining told me a week ago when I looked at it this get-together was going to be a long one. 

And let's add to that what I expect was a happy approval of the new procurement policy for small businesses.  Perhaps Allen Watson owned the day?  And let's not forget Terence Fontaine with the monthly update on the ongoing, but lessening, comedy that has been CAF.

Usually by 3:30pm, we have a Board meeting video ready for viewing, but not yet this time.  The file is huge, I'm sure, and with the late meeting ending, I wonder if we will see anything today. 

3:53pm: Well, I've found out there will be no Purple Line until at least April.  This meeting just sounds better and better!

4:09pm: I'm giving up on there being a video posted today.  We'll get our commentary tomorrow.  :-)

4:42pm: Downloading video now.  We'll see just how long it takes to put the commentary together - lol.

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And now, the meeting!

00:30 Looks like a good crowd.  Equivalent of first five rows are in the room.  Gilbert is having a little difficulty getting a quorum to take their seats.  Lots of Board members present who need to get their boms in chairs!

1:41 Gilbert gets things going.  A huge number of big things to get through today...

2:23 Judge Jefferson is out of town.

2:55 Chief of Staff of Rep. Harold Dutton shares her comments on Re-imagining.  FLEX rears its ugly head right at the start of the meeting!  Yeah, METRO has done nothing publicly really to educate the community on FLEX - or so I believe...

5:00 Christof Spieler does not want FLEX unless it will really work.  In other words, this entire part of System Reimagining might as well be on square-one...because it really is!

7:35 Jim Robinson brings up the issue of reduced span of service.  Good point!  omg, there is waaay more to this project that still needs to be addressed.

9:00 Councilman (Houston) Dwight Boykins actually thank the Board for something: issues concerning the crossover at Beekman Street near the Palm Center.

12:35 Mayor Sue Speck (Multi-Cities) thanks this Board for its responsiveness to the community.

15:55 Joetta Stevenson does not like Reimagining at all.  Joetta did not bring sugar to this meeting.  She laments easy service to medical facilities.  Lack of METRO marketing and giving out information to ridership.  She cites less service to inner-city.  She is on a rampage. 

Is she justified?  Well, she is speaking out in a big way for communities that will be affected by Reimagining in a way we have not seen before.

20:00 Umm...  Mrs. Stevenson, there are hundreds of thousands of poor non-white people whose bus service will by reimagining be greatly improved.  The motion to go 80/20 was made by a black guy: Board Member Dwight Jefferson, whose presence is now greatly missed.  What a bad day to be out of town!

The LBJ connection deserves a further look, though.

I am very thankful to her for bringing up this perspective.

23:00 No, Gilbert, this process has been more than a year long.  But yes, it's been a long time.  Yes, Joetta is on a rampage, but yes, I love her being here and speaking!

23:45 Christof gives a very empassioned response.  'Ridership is about serving our customers.'  He addresses directly the current 1 Hospital.  METRO has been expecting this, and it has now occurred: the torches and pitchforks have arrived!

25:14 Calm down, kids...

25:30 Most of the 'west' part of town is non-white and non-rich and densely-populated.  Christof addresses directly why Northeast Houston is getting less bus service under reimagining.

27:30 Preach it, Christof!  Yes, there are trade-offs, but we can only do what we can do with our limited taxpayer money.

29:00 Dominic!  Yes, get those FLEX zones going at least as a pilot project.  But do it asap.  Joetta has her posse with her.  Good people all, I know, and they are not a happy bunch.

31:18 Dom gets around.

32:09 Bob Yuri (sp?) and Central Houston Downtown Management District's Board and membership looove System Reimagining.

36:55 Otis Robinson, METRO employee, represents his Settegast superneighborhood...and loves System Reimagining and cites Bob Lanier (1990) & Robert Miller (2004) as reimagining-killers of the past. 

He does not care for the wholesale changes of numbers and routes, however.  He cites the loss of the legacy of history in certain routes, especially the 44 Acres Homes.

He disputes low ridership figures on some routes.  And he's worked at METRO 38 years.

48:00 Susan Young with the South Main Alliance loves System Reimagining, and so does her organization.

53:00 Dexter Handley of the Citizen's Transportation Coalition loves System Reimagining.

- Renumbering will be looked at again.
- Service to hospitals will be reassessed.
- Ridership in the Northeast will be looked at again.
- FLEX is an open variable.  Period.
- span of service will be re-looked-at

There will never ever be a moment in which a mystical full-approval of System Re-imagining complete with finished routes, etc. will ever come.  It is abundantly clear the tweaking and twerking of this project, especially regarding FLEX, will continue right up to 7 June 2015 and beyond.

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