With help from regional officials, The Woodlands is entering the bus business, a decision that might give south Montgomery County commuters more options down the road.
Population gains pushed the Woodlands-Conroe area from a “small urban area” to a “large urbanized area” of 230,000 residents for the 2010 Census. That bump means someone has to take responsibility for federally awarded transit money.
“Now those dollars are coming to us,” said Nick Wolda, spokesman for The Woodlands Township, the local governing organization.
With the money, however, comes responsibility for overseeing a bus system and stocking up on buses. To get the fleet started, Woodlands officials reached out to the Houston-Galveston Area Council, which doles out federal transit money in the Houston area.
Council officials Tuesday approved a $14.1 million agreement that uses $11.3 million in federal funds and $2.8 million from The Woodlands to buy 25 buses over a number of years, starting with five in the first year.
“It is not all the buses they need, but it is gives them a great start,” said Alan Clark, manager of transportation air quality programs for H-GAC.
Controlling bus service in their communities means the township and city can adjust service more to their liking and move more quickly, Clark said. By owning buses – and potentially having the funding to invest in more lines – transit officials in southern Montgomery County can start to position the buses to meet the area’s explosive growth.
“This is kind of the maturity of these communities,” Clark said. “Everything is coming together on this. They have made additional investments in sidewalk infrastructure.”
I wish them all the best with that. They’re still going to have to deal with the fact that their lack of a street grid and the resulting traffic congestion will severely limit the utility of their bus network, but it’s a start. At least every bus passenger will be one less car on those crowded streets. It ain’t much, but it’s a start.