Thursday, May 28, 2015

Feeling much better about METRO's outreach efforts today...and a farewell to Allen Watson

In the past on this blog, the podcast, and/or in private emails to my friends at METRO, I have lamented the rather-drab aesthetic METRO is using for its New Bus Network outreach campaign.
I also had misgivings about the innards of its campaign in regard to its thoroughness in reaching present as well as potential ridership.  

At a meeting held with METRO staffers and community Stakeholders at Noon today and in the last third of a very long Board Meeting, my fears were assuaged.  The look of the campaign may not be as pungent and to the point as I'd like (grey lettering as I linked to above never sold anything as far as I know), but if present ridership by implementation on Sunday 16 August still does not know it's coming, well, I don't know what else we can do for them.

Chief among my happiness catalysts from today is the news what I have suggested will be implemented: teams of people aboard buses handing out brochures on the New Bus Network to every single passenger.  There will also be literature and messages distributed to every single place one could possibly imagine by way of various methods: houses of worship, libraries, television (a little), radio (a lot), special events, videos, banners here and there, displays here and there, on-bus rider engagement (woot!!), METRO retailers, tastefully-executed email blasts, social media, major employers, etc., etc., etc....with the great part of this coming in the last month leading up to Sunday 16 August.

As for today's Board Meeting (video at, it was long, but the Uptown BRT update was long, detailed, and very exciting to see, particularly in light of the Garcia-Culberson Peace Accord.  The meeting was also notable in the agency's farewell to City of Houston-appointed METRO Board Member Allen Dale Watson, who has resigned.

Allen's leadership in the utter reworking of the Procurement Manual for small businesses wanting to have dealings with METRO has flown under the radar over the years, but it was a herculean feat, and he will be missed.  Godspeed, sir!

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Allen Watson's bio from (retrieved on 28 May 2015 before it was taken down due to Allen's no longer being on the Board)

Mr. Watson’s distinguished 30 year career as a professional engineer included project management and corporate leadership. His experience gained through nine years of working for Harris County’s Public Infrastructure Department and private engineering firms in the Houston-area includes the design of roadways, bridges, water supplies, sanitary sewers, drainage, and telecommunication projects. Mr. Watson joined CobbFendley in 1996 as Engineering Manager and through his project management and leadership skills became a principal in 1999. The combination of Mr. Watson’s technical knowledge with practical, straight-forward communications skills has provided clients, such as the Cities of Houston and Austin, Harris, Williamson and Hays Counties, TxDOT and telecommunications companies with proactive and implementable solutions. Noteworthy projects include: Downtown/Midtown Street Program, SH 45 Tollway, Mercer Park Arboretum, and AT&T’s Hurricane GIS Mapping Project.

Mr. Watson contributed to the number of employees tripling and an average five year revenue growth of more than thirty percent. In 2000 he spearheaded efforts to open a branch office in Austin, Texas and has since successfully opened additional offices in Dallas, Frisco, League City and San Antonio, Texas. In December of 2007, Mr. Watson assumed the position of Board Member and President from one of the original company founders. As President, Mr. Watson’s goals include continued growth, ownership transition and diversification. Mr. Watson retired in June 2013.

Professional and Community Involvement
City of Houston - In 2010 Mr. Watson was appointed by Mayor Annise Parker to the METRO Board of Directors. During his tenure the Board has passed a referendum to increase future revenue, continued construction of three new rail lines, reduced the agency’s debt, improved procurement practices and procedures and approved a new 5-year transit plan focused on substantially improving METRO’s local bus services.

City of Houston - In 2009 Mr. Watson was appointed by Mayor Bill White to the City of Houston Airport Land Use Regulations Board of Adjustments. Specific responsibilities include regulating land use around the City’s three airports to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. In addition, Mr. Watson works with other members of the Board to handle appeals and variance requests.

Greater Houston Partnership - Mr. Watson is an active member of the Aviation and Ports/Waterways Subcommittees, which monitor expansion of facilities at the City's three major airports and at the Port of Houston. These Committees advocate facility expansion to accommodate future travel and cargo projections. He also serves on the Transit Planning Subcommittee which reviews transit initiatives and submits recommendations to the Transportation Committee for analysis and inclusion into the Partnership’s overall master transportation plan.

American Council of Engineering Companies Texas (ACEC Texas) - Mr. Watson served as Chairman of the State Board of Directors, Chairman of the State Legislative Committee and ACEC Houston steering committee. Mr. Watson’s ongoing initiatives with ACEC Texas include regulatory and transportation funding issues.

West Houston Association - Mr. Watson served on the Association’s Drainage Committee analyzing drainage solutions for West Houston and frontier areas of Harris County.

Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) Greater Houston Chapter - In 1994, Mr. Watson was honored with the Houston Area Young Engineer of the Year Award for his dedication to the engineering field and the Houston community. He has held numerous board positions at the Chapter level of TSPE, including President in 2001-02. During his tenure as President, Mr. Watson focused on membership retention and growth.

Houston Area Engineers Week Committee - Mr. Watson served on this committee for more than eight years organizing a week of activities recognizing the accomplishments of engineers and encouraging others to enter the profession. As the Chairman of the Committee in 1999-2000, Mr. Watson focused on highlighting the benefits engineering provides for every Texas citizen.

MATHCOUNTS - Mr. Watson served as area and state chairman for the MATHCOUNTS program, a nationwide math skills and coaching program with a series of progressive competitions that promotes math excellence for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students. As state chairman he established a permanent endowment fund for the program which reaches over 30,000 students in Texas each year.

Houston Engineering & Scientific Society (HESS) - Mr. Watson served on the Board of Directors and as Chair of this organization. As the Society’s Chair, Mr. Watson was successful in relocating the Society to a new facility in the Galleria Area and hired a new manager to revitalize the business.

Jerry Eversole Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Golf Tournament - Mr. Watson has served on the committee for ten years that organizes this annual fundraiser. The fundraiser has successfully raised more than $1,000,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Infrastructure Group Texas (IGT) – Mr. Watson served on the Board of Managers of Infrastructure Group Texas, an alternative project-delivery corporation providing unique engineering solutions throughout Texas.

Woodcrest Homeowners Association - Mr. Watson participates in the Association’s quarterly meetings and assisted in the development of the Association’s long-range plan. The Association is part of Super Neighborhood #22 and Washington on Westcott (WOW).

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