It’s 6:30 in the morning and the metro parking lot at west Bellfort is about one-third full. People of all ages and races are parking their cars and walking towards the boarding area. Some are carrying brief cases, purses. Some are talking on cell phones. They board the number 265, headed for downtown.
I found Sugarland’s Marlon Chavez waiting in line. He’s started riding the bus to work three weeks ago. Why?
“Gas prices. I had to because it was just costing me way too much to drive from Sugarland to Downtown.”
By leaving his car at home, Chavez figures he’s saving about 30 dollars a week.
It’s now seven o’clock and the parking lot is almost completely full. As one bus fills up with riders, another one pulls up right behind it, ready to open its doors. A bus ticket can cost a dollar or up to 3.50 — depending on where you’re going.
There are many who’ve been taking the bus for years, because they don’t have to worry about downtown parking. And then there are people like Michael Singletary and Teresa Lang. Both are new riders. Both forced to make cost saving changes.
“I work right Downtown, so it drops me off right in front my building, but the number one factor has been gas prices. That’s been the main factor. Gas is up to 4 dollars a gallon. And it’s just been outrageous.”
“Once it hit like 3.70, then I was like okay that’s enough.”
Metro has added fourteen new trips to its busiest locations to accommodate these new riders. It seems to be working. By 7:30 the lot is full and the lines are gone.
Bill Stamps. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.