By Lora Marie Bernard
County leaders will begin piloting this week a bus service that links the mainland to downtown Houston and Galveston.
Island Express will begin operating July 10 on the mainland in two locations. Riders will be able to connect at 5320 Texas Ave. in Texas City and at the METRO Bay Area Park & Ride.
The pilot was discussed during a recent meeting of the Galveston County Transit District Board of Director at the Johnny Arrolfo Civic Center in League City.
Transportation consultant John Carrara of The Goodman Corporation said he hopes the pilot proves a need to establish a permanent route between the two counties.
“It’s a partnership between TxDOT, the City of Galveston, the City of Texas City, Galveston County, and METRO to provide this pilot project which fills the gap,” Carrara said. “Let’s hope that it will demonstrate and develop ridership and a private operator will come back in the future.”
Galveston Island Transit owns Island Express. METRO estimates call for 20 persons to use the service each day.
According to METRO board member Christof Spieler’s blog the route will offer weekday service between the Downtown Transit Center in Houston and the Island Transit’s Downtown Transit Terminal on the Strand in Galveston. The busses will be equipped with bike racks.
Carrara said he doesn’t expect the riders to be daily commuters. “It’s like any inner-city bus type of activity,” he said. “No reservations are required, however, it’s important that everyone help in getting the word out about this service because there will be infrequent riders.”
The City of Galveston, which own the Galveston Island Transit system, will have a kickoff event on July 10 to celebrate the launch.