Metro's Frank Wilson Is Gone, But Troubles Remain

Even with the departure of Frank Wilson, Metro still has a few hurdles before it can regain the public's trust, which is the agency's main goal right now, according to Gilbert Garcia, the Metro board chairman, and George Greanias, Metro's newly appointed president.

Wilson, for example, was in front of a grand jury this morning because of an investigation into illegal document shredding that might have happened under Wilson's leadership.

The lawsuit that spurred that investigation was scheduled to go to court this week but was pulled from the docket at the last minute because of a possible settlement.

And there's still the pending lawsuit from Pauline Higgins, a former top attorney at Metro who alleges she was fired when she tried to stop the document shredding.

That lawsuit says, among other things, that "Wilson has obtained, at taxpayer expense, the loyalty of a few employees that allow him to circumvent checks and balances..."

So there's still plenty to be learned, sorted out by lawyers and judges and Metro executives, about the way Metro has been doing business.

But for people like Kay Matimas, about the only thing that matters is having a reliable transportation system.

Matimas has used Metro buses as her main mode of transportation for about the last ten years, and she often travels with her son who is mentally retarded. Matimas and her son usually ride the bus around the city's east side, where Metro is tearing up streets for its rail expansion.

As Matimas has seen bus service decline in the last decade, one of her biggest complaints is the "nonchalant" bus drivers that can turn a simple ride "chaotic."

Her latest battle with Metro is getting back her son's access to Metro Lift, a program designed for riders with disabilities and special needs.

According to Matimas, Metro confiscated her son's Metro Lift card because he was using it too much on normal buses, which he rides with his mother. (Metro spokeswoman Raequel Roberts is working to get us some more information on Matimas' situation.)

"They don't understand that he still needs that card, if he ever needed to go without me," Matimas tells Hair Balls. "I don't trust him to ride the bus alone."

In this week's cover story, "Train Wreck," the Houston Press examines more stories from people like Matimas, and how, during the Frank Wilson era, Metro got so far off track.

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