Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County

Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County
Houston Metro logo.svg
FoundedJanuary 1, 1979
Headquarters1900 Main St. Lee P. Brown Administration Building
Downtown Houston, Texas
LocaleHouston (Texas, United States)
Service areaHarris County
Service typeBus Service, Light Rail, Paratransit Services, Express Lanes
Routes83 local bus routes
31 commuter bus routes
3 light rail lines
1 community connector
Stops9,050[1]
DestinationsDowntown Houston
Uptown Houston
Memorial City
Greenspoint
Westchase
Energy Corridor
Texas Medical Center
Johnson Space Center
University of Houston
Texas Southern University
Rice University
University of Houston–Downtown
University of St. Thomas
Houston Baptist University
Houston Community College
Lone Star College
San Jacinto College
Bush Intercontinental Airport
Hobby Airport
NRG Park
Greenspoint Mall
Houston Galleria
West Oaks Mall
Sharpstown Mall
Gulfgate Mall
Memorial City Mall
Willowbrook Mall
Northline Mall
Baybrook Mall
Northwest Mall
Almeda Mall
Hubs21 transit centers
27 park and rides
Stations44 (light rail)
12 (bus rapid transit)
Fleet1,233 (bus)
76 (light rail)
[2]
Annual ridership84,323,077 [3]
Fuel typeDiesel, CNG, http://www.ridemetro.org

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (often referred to as METRO) is a major public transportation agency based in Houston, Texas, United States. It operates bus, light rail, bus rapid transit, HOV and HOT lanes, and paratransit service (under the name METROLift) in the city as well as most of Harris County. METRO also operates bus service to two cities in Fort Bend County. The METRO headquarters are in the Lee P. Brown Administration Building in Downtown Houston.

History

Louisiana Place (now Total Plaza), the previous METRO headquarters

The Texas State Legislature authorized the creation of local transit authorities in 1973. In 1978, Houston-area voters created METRO and approved a one-cent sales tax to support its operations. METRO opened for business in January 1979, taking over the bus service owned by the City of Houston known as HouTran. HouTran was plagued by outdated equipment, infrequent service and a route structure which failed to account for Houston's rapid population growth.[4]

METRO's service area encompasses 1,285 square miles (3,330 km2)[1] and also serves portions of an eight-county region with its vanpool service; the agency employs about 3,800 people.[4]

Executive leadership

Tom Lambert is the current President and CEO of the agency. Lambert was formally appointed in February 2014, although he had been operating as the agency's interim CEO since the beginning of 2013. [5] Lambert, a Houston native with a political science degree from Southwest Texas State University and master's in public administration from the University of Houston, joined METRO as a security investigator in 1979. He was named agency police chief in 1982, ultimately overseeing close to 100 officers, then moved into higher ranks of management.[6]

George Greanias served as METRO's chief executive from 2010 until December 2012. He previously served on the Houston City Council and as Controller, where he fought unsuccessfully against Mayor Bob Lanier's effort to divert one-fourth of METRO's funding, and then ran for Mayor in 1997, as detailed in a 1997 Houston Press article[7]. He was appointed by Mayor Annise Parker even though he had no transit experience. Parker made the need for new leadership at METRO a key platform of her campaign, saying the leadership had damaged the agency's relationship with the community.[8]

Frank Wilson, a 30-year transit executive who had been president of AECOM Enterprises, a Los Angeles-based engineering consulting firm, replaced DeLibero when she retired in the spring of 2004. Wilson had also previously been general manager of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) in Northern California and was the Commissioner of Transportation for the State of New Jersey. Wilson arrived as the mayoral administration of Bill White replaced that of the term-limited Brown. In May 2010, Wilson signed a deal to terminate his employment as METRO president and chief executive officer.

Shirley DeLibero served as President and CEO of METRO from 1999 until 2004. DeLibero was recruited to METRO by then-mayor Lee Brown, and was previously executive director of New Jersey Transit.[9][10] Her tenure was marked by the introduction of the METRORail light rail transit system and passing of the 2003 light rail expansion plan referendum.

The METRO Board has nine members - 5 are appointed by the Mayor of the City of Houston, 2 from the Harris County Judge, and 2 from a METRO member city (e.g. Missouri City or West University Place).