Here’s a quick recap of the “discussion” between Mayor Parker and Metro Chairman David Wolff:
Mayor Parker says that Metro should consider eliminating bus and light rail fares. Wolff says that is a terrible idea. Mayor Parker says that Wolff missed her point and that she meant that Metro needs to start thinking outside the box and “refocus on its mission of serving the public rather than on boosting the share of its revenues that come from fares” (from Houston Chronicle article here).
I think that most people missed her point. I don’t know about you, but to me, saying that they should consider eliminating fares means that they should consider eliminating fares. Regardless, Mayor Parker seems to know (now perhaps) that this is a bad idea. Her goal is to have an increase in riders, but eliminating fares would just mean poor services and quality of public transportation. I don’t think we should charge outrageous prices, but we should charge enough to maintain the system without having to raising taxes to maintain the system.
Mayor Parker is a smart woman. Surely she knows that you can’t get rid of these fares (right?…). Maybe she wasn’t clear in her words, or maybe she changed her mind after thinking more about it. I guess it doesn’t really matter because her final conclusion is pretty accurate, and I imagine that Wolff and Parker’s bickering was nothing more than a power play. Wolff has to know that she doesn’t want him around much longer. Parker said that “the agency had been ‘stuck in neutral’ under his leadership and that she expects to replace him soon after getting reports from her transition committees studying Metro” (from this Houston Chronicle article).