Valley-wide bus service provides necessary public transportation services so individuals don’t need to drive to drive the economy
If you’ve ever driven from Edinburg to McAllen during rush hour, you know that traffic can be a headache. Though we try to distract ourselves with music on the radio, all that time sitting in the car adds up. The average congestion-related delay per commuter in metropolitan areas in Texas is 37 hours per year, and according to a 2012 Roads and Bridges report, could rise to 74 hours per year if nothing is done to address congestion within 15 years.
Congestion is felt in our wallets too, costing the state’s economy approximately $10.8 billion per year in lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion-related delays, and is predicted to rise to almost $30 billion in 2025.
While there’s no getting around the need for local road improvements, public transportation eases congestion by moving more people while taking up less space on the road. Aside from relieving gridlock, the service public transportation provides is itself vital to driving the economy. As reported by City Metric, transit enables people who can’t drive to participate in economic life. Providing mobility to groups such as seniors, the youth, and other people who don’t have the option of driving expands the economy as lack of transportation can be a barrier to consuming, shopping, as well as finding and keeping a job. Unemployment leads to individuals spending less and negatively affecting consumer demand, which in turn leads to businesses downsizing and a possible downturn in the economy.
Locally, individuals in the Valley have public transportation options that include Metro Connect, a Valley-wide bus service that offers free wifi on its clean buses, affordable passes, and long working hours. Three bus lines connect the sprawling RGV from Edinburg to McAllen’s Central station to as far west as Port Isabel.
The green line connects Edinburg to McAllen. With free rides for all members of the general public, the green line is a staple for students and faculty who live outside of Edinburg, yet still close enough to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to not want to move. As students with cars are well aware of, parking near UTRGV can be difficult. The bus eliminates that hassle completely, and with the $25 student and faculty 30-day passes for the red line, UTRGV students on both campuses can feel connected. The red line connecting McAllen to Brownsville (with connections to VTC’s Harlingen Terminal and the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets), can save regular commuters money on gas and car repairs. As one daily rider of this line told us, “I would have burned out my car twice by now!”
The blue line is also free, and connects Brownsville to Port Isabel, with a free transfer via Island Metro to South Padre Island.
For only $5 a day, riders can traverse the entire Rio Grande Valley all day long. An upgraded $10 daily pass includes all Metro Connect regular stops, with additional access to Metro McAllen and Brownsville Metro’s services. Other packages can save individuals even more money. For more information, visit www.rgvmetroconnect.com or call (855) 220-8827.