Galveston's Bus System Looks to Attract New Riders

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway enters Galveston Bay from the southwest end of the Bolivar Peninsula at the town of Port Bolivar. (File photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Galveston's bus system is working to get more riders as it faces a possble budget shortfall.Island Transit is asking for input on how to make the system more attractive to 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. 

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...