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Transportation Planners Consider Regional Transit Fare Collection System

With commuters now moving in all directions, the Houston-Galveston Area Council hopes to smooth out the ride for people who travel by bus. Transportation planners say riders should be able to transfer to different bus systems by only paying one fare.

METRO says commuter ridership has taken the biggest hit during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Gail Delaughter / Houston Public Media
Metro Park and Ride bus in downtown Houston.


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In its annual "Call for Projects", the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) is making millions of dollars available that can be used as matching funds for federally-funded transportation initiatives.

Some of that money is being set aside for local transit services that want to develop a regional fare collection system. For instance, if you're using a commuter bus operated by one of the suburban transit providers, you could transfer to a METRO bus by paying a single fare. METRO is Harris County’s Metropolitan Transit Authority.

H-GAC's Alan Clark said a regional fare system would also be helpful to people who do reverse commutes.

"This is, I think, a real opportunity as we see employers growing not only in the core employment areas like downtown, the Medical Center, The Galleria, but also as we see them growing out in the Energy Corridor and suburban communities," said Clark.

And along with the ease of a single fare, Clark explained that the system would offer other benefits.

"It's also about being able to plan those trips, to coordinate the bus schedules or the rail and bus schedules, so you'll know how long it would take me to make this trip," he added.

Clark said METRO has already done some work on a regional fare collection system, but putting it into effect could still be a few years away.

"We don't yet have a proposal to go buy a specific type of equipment or hire a particular type of vendor," said Clark. "That work will be done by the different transit providers working through a coordination committee we have here at the Houston-Galveston Area Council. But I am very much looking forward to their completing that work, bringing forward a proposal."

Some of the regional agencies that provide transportation services include Harris County Transit, Fort Bend Transit, and Connect Transit in Galveston and Brazoria Counties.