The city renewed its focus on exploring public transit options once again by approving a contract with Alliance Transportation Group to provide services to guide the ultimate direction of the city’s Transit Development Plan. New Braunfels City Council unanimously approved the contract on Feb. 13.

Public transportation is a priority outlined in the city’s comprehensive plan, said Garry Ford, director of transportation and capital improvements for the city of New Braunfels. “Currently, our public transportation is a continuation of rural transit that we contract through Alamo Area Regional Transit,” Ford said. “We’ve had an interlocal agreement since 2013. It’s the only public transit available to New Braunfels and the vehicles and drivers are provided through [Alamo Area Council of Governments].”

In 2022, the city paid more than $1.3 million for the service, Ford said. Most trips are medically related for senior citizens and can take up to 30 hours for pick up after a ride request.

In 2021, the city published a study in partnership and with funding from the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization; VIA Metropolitan, the city of San Antonio’s transit organization; the AACOG; TxDOT; Comal County; and the city of Seguin. That study proposed fixed routes with a microtransit option or a full microtransit system. Microtransit is an on-demand service similar to ride-hailing services, Ford said.

“It has been very successful for VIA in San Antonio where we had a fixed route that doesn’t have a lot of ridership, they transitioned over to a microtransit option,” Ford said.

That study took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and city staff pointed to the increase in population and other factors as providing a need to take a fresh look.

“What we’re finding is that new employment that’s coming in asks about the public transportation options for potential employees but also address the mobility challenges that we have. ... If we’re wanting to take public transportation from here to San Antonio, we are limited in options to do that.”

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