Officials with the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County are proposing a $1.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2023-24, a 7.2% drop, or $126 million less, from last year's approved budget. Last year’s budget was the largest dollar amount approved in the transportation agency’s history, totaling $1.76 billion.

Board Member Terry Morales said at the Sept. 21 finance and audit committee meeting that organization leaders have reduced expenses on this “conservative” budget due to a projected reduction in sales tax revenue and that their priority remains on its core services. According to budget documents, the agency is anticipating a "forecasted economic downturn."

The budget documents state the agency has a goal in the upcoming fiscal year to attract, develop and retain its workforce in the face of increased competition for employees and demographic shifts in public sector employees. One such goal is hiring staff who will focus on recruiting college students, according to officials.

The FY 2023-24 budget includes:
  • $915 million operating budget, a $60 million increase from last year
  • $420.9 million capital budget, a $150 million decrease from last year
  • $198.9 million general mobility program budget, a $6 million decrease from last year
  • $101.9 debt service budget, a $31 million decrease from last year

Officials with METRO's finance department also said at the meeting that the $60 million increase in operations from last year was due to the following factors:

  • Cost of service changes that took place in 2023
  • Increase in cost of purchasing transportation mostly from increased contract rates for its services
  • Growth in personnel costs—from the hiring of additional bus operators, increases in union wage rates and rising health care costs
  • Service improvements—24-hour service pilot program and bike share program
  • Reduction in capitalization—related to how METRO’s capital projects are reflected in its financial statements. Capital projects first include labor costs in operating expenses, but after a certain point, operating costs are reduced.

Going forward

The proposed budget will be up for board vote Sept. 28 and, if passed, will begin Oct. 1.