Cap Met: The Drama Continues
A balanced budget, no train, and union leader locked out
By Lee Nichols,
1:26PM, Tue. Sep. 29, 2009
Capital Metro has a budget, but it doesn’t have a train. Jay Wyatt doesn’t have a key to the building. And you’d better have another quarter in your pocket.
The major developments out of Capital Metro this week:
• On Monday, it approved a budget to spend $164.7 million in fiscal year 2010, which begins Thursday. With two members absent, the board voted 4-1 in favor, but chair Margaret Gomez and Leander Mayor John Cowman made it clear they were unhappy with the transfer of $2.6 million in federal stimulus money away from MetroRail Red Line projects and into the regular operational budget. “It just simply is not wise at all to put off pain that’s going to come in a very few months,” Gomez said. Austin City Council Member Chris Riley was the no vote.
• Riley’s “nay” was an objection to Gomez’s successful move to start up a public input process to move scheduled August fare increases up to January, in the hopes of bringing in more revenue and enabling that stim money to go back to MetroRail. Whenever the fare increase takes effect, the cost of a one-way trip will rise from 75 cents to $1, with multi-trip passes also going up accordingly.
• Cap Met VP Doug Allen said computerization and signalization problems continue, and we shouldn’t expect MetroRail to begin any earlier than the first quarter of 2010 at best.
• Cap Met labor contactor StarTran may have fired Jay Wyatt, but he’s still the union president. But since StarTran took away his building access card, he can’t enter Cap Met premises to do union business without an escort. “[P]reposterous,” complains the union’s lawyer. “Dogging Mr. Wyatt’s every move within the buildings constitutes unlawful surveillance.”
Read about these events in greater detail on Thursday in the paper edition or at austinchronicle.com/news.