Galveston's Bus System Looks to Attract New Riders

Island Transit operates seven bus routes around Galveston Island. There's also a shuttle that transports riders from the mainland.

About 60,000 people use the service every month, but officials are now in a situation where they may have to do more with less.

Before Hurricane Ike, Galveston had about 57,000 residents. After the storm it dipped to less than 50,000.

City spokeswoman Elizabeth Rogers says because of the population loss, the transit system is no longer eligible for federal funds. She says they'll now have to compete for state funding.

"We're looking at estimated cuts of about $700,000 annually. Island Transit operates on about a $4 million a year budget so it's a pretty significant impact that we're going to feel."

Galveston Island after Hurricane Ike, Sept. 13, 2008.

But despite the population shortfall, Rogers says a lot of people depend on the service to get to work.

"We are a heavy hospitality industry community. I think ridership is continuing to increase and so there's increasing pressure for demand for our services."

Island Transit is now working on a Comprehensive Plan that will guide the agency over the next decade. As part of the process they're doing a survey.

"We're just looking at ways that we can increase ridership, especially in our in-town and downtown area, and then how we can make our routes more effective."

Starting on Monday, Island Transit will start giving out copies of the survey on its buses. People can also complete the survey online. 

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