You are on page 1of 2

Metropolitan Transit Authority

1900 Main
P.O. Box 61429
Houston, Texas 77208-1429

Phone: 713-739-4040

METRO Board of Directors


David S. Wolff, Chairman
Gerald B. Smith, Vice Chairman
Jackie L. Freeman, Secretary
Burt Ballanfant
George A. DeMontrond, III
Terence H. Fontaine
Carmen Orta
Trinidad Mendenhall Sosa
C. Jim Stewart, III

President & Chief Executive Officer


Frank J. Wilson

Contact: George Smalley TODAY’S DATE: Dec. 9, 2009


V.P. Communications/Marketing SUBJECT: Response to
713-739-4011 Culberson letter

METRO’S RESPONSE TO CONGRESS MEMBER CULBERSON’S


LETTER TO THE FTA REGARDING UNIVERSITY LIGHT RAIL

Congress Member John Culberson has once again surfaced in a negative attempt to
prevent METRO from carrying out the will of Houston voters to build 30 more miles of light
rail.

His December 8, 2009 letter to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), objecting to the
University Line, contains many intentional misstatements and inaccuracies.

1) He claims that “METRO is counting on the elimination of a 2003 requirement that it


commit 25% of its sales tax revenue for street improvements and road projects for
the cities in METRO’s service area through 2014.” This is an absolute falsehood.
METRO’s financial plan and cash flow analysis demonstrate continued funding of
the General Mobility Program through 2014. In fact, oddly enough, Culberson’s own
letter has an attachment which clearly shows METRO funding the program.

2) He claims that the western portion of the University Line “lies entirely within the
boundaries of my congressional district…” This, too, is unequivocally false. One-
third of the western segment of the University Line, a distance of about two miles,
falls within Congress Member Al Green’s district. The approximately three-mile
portion east of Main Street falls in Congress Member Sheila Jackson Lee’s district.
Thus, only about half of the line falls within Congress Member Culberson’s district.

3) He also misstates the cost of the North and Southeast rail lines as $897 million and
$911 million, respectively. The correct figures are $756 million for the North line and
$823 million for the Southeast – some $200 million less than his numbers.

His letter to the FTA contains numerous other misstatements, and his position of opposing
the University Line puts him at odds with the other Members of Houston’s Congressional
delegation. In fact, last week Congress Member Al Green issued a statement saying the
University Line “is a good project because it is beneficial for Houston in general, but it is
also particularly advantageous for the residents of the west and southwest sections of the
city because it will allow them to commute to their job centers in the Greenway Plaza
area, the Galleria, the Medical Center and downtown.” Congress Member Sheila Jackson
Lee has also spoken out forcefully in support.

What we’re seeing now is a political instant replay of the misguided tactics used by
Congress Member Culberson and his erstwhile mentor to thwart rail to the detriment of
Houston and to send a billion dollars of federal money to some other U.S. city.

METRO’s financial forecasting models and cash flow plan have been carefully developed
and reviewed in detail and approved by METRO’s Board of Directors and by the financial
experts at the FTA. METRO’s financial strength is further demonstrated by its AA rating by
Standard and Poors and its Aa3 rating by Moody’s – both are high investment grade
ratings. Moody’s stated in an advisory dated December 3rd that it “expects that METRO will
continue to maintain solid financial performance given the agency’s history of solid cash
balances, conservative budgeting and a demonstrated history of strong fiscal controls
resulting in modest gains in its operating budget from year to year.”

To claim that METRO lacks the financial ability to build its rail plan is a political ploy to
thwart rail expansion. Sadly, as witnessed before, Congress Member Culberson’s latest
step threatens to divert federal funding and jobs away from Houston.

###