During its March 28 meeting, Conroe City Council approved a one-year interlocal agreement with the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, which means a commuter bus service from Conroe to various stops in downtown Houston will continue.

What’s happening?

Conroe commuters trying to get to downtown Houston can continue riding METRO buses following City Council’s approval. According to the March 27 agenda packet, the commuter bus service:

  • Operates two early morning runs and two late afternoon runs Monday through Friday
  • Includes stops in downtown Houston, Midtown and the Texas Medical Center

A one-way fare costs $8, with one-way fares costing $4 for seniors, persons with disabilities or students. Trips are free for people over the age of 70 and veterans, according to the agenda packet.

How we got here

The commuter bus service began in 2019 after the city—in partnership with METRO and the Houston-Galveston Area Council—received Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant funding, according to the agenda packet.

In 2023, the CMAQ funding expired, and the city resolved to support the service through its general fund, according to a presentation from Assistant Director of Transportation Shawn Davis at the March 27 workshop meeting.

The cost

This new interlocal agreement includes a $182,948 budget amendment to pay for an increase from the prior interlocal agreement due to inflation and METRO’s cost models, bringing the total cost to $957,109, according to the March 27 workshop agenda packet. The city initially budgeted $774,161 for the service.

“For Year 1, until we can do something else, this is where it stands,” Davis said. “And honestly, I’m not really sure, I have to be really real with the numbers, but we may not even need to spend that whole [budget amendment] amount at this point. I’m actually still in negotiations to get the rate down.”

Quote of note

“It’s been a very big asset for our folks that are going to downtown Houston,” Director of Community Development Nancy Mikeska said during the March 27 workshop meeting.

The takeaway

During the March 28 regular meeting, Mikeska said that at this time, there are no plans to terminate the service after the one-year contract is up and that city staff will work to try and bring the cost of the service down.

“We’re going to work diligently to bring y’all back an option that will work for everybody,” Mikeska said.