The 52-passenger bus currently averages two riders per trip from its passenger plaza at 815 Pierce to Terminal C at the airport each half hour. The one-way fare is $15.
“It hemorrhages money,” Metro President and CEO George Greanias said. “We think it’s a valuable service. We need to reconfigure it in a way that’s more cost-effective.”
On Jan. 23, the fare will drop to $4.50. Metro plans to close the passenger plaza and instead send the bus to the George R. Brown Convention Center and the downtown Hilton, Doubletree, Hyatt, Marriott, Four Seasons and Crowne Plaza hotels.
The fare reduction and rerouting is a six-month experiment. Metro officials are projecting that the ridership increases and savings from closing down the Pierce plaza will save $350,000 over eight months.
The Press reported on this a few days earlier. Doing the same calculations I did before, Metro would need about 1157 passengers per day on the Airport Direct buses to break even, which is a ten-fold increase from what they’re getting now. That doesn’t adjust for the savings they project from closing the passenger plaza; factoring that in means they’ll need about 945 passengers per day, or a bit more than eight times as many as now. I’ve no idea if this is doable, but the changes they’re making seem reasonable enough, so a six-month experiment is worth trying. I wish them luck.