The park and ride service was intended to take Pearland residents in and out of the Texas Medical Center and downtown Houston.
Branson said that the buses were averaging between 20 and 25 riders per day, when a minimum of 50 riders on a daily basis was needed for Kerrville Bus Co./Coach USA to consider continuing the program.
“They approached the city and said they wanted to provide a park and ride service from Pearland to the med center,” Branson said. “The city is not paying any subsidy for the service, so the company is paying for the operation through revenue from the program.”
Pearland City Council Member Adrian Hernandez said feedback about the service indicates that the pricing was not enough to incentivize people to use the buses.
“I don’t think the pricing was too far off, but the timing of the partnership was not the best,” Hernandez said. “Construction on [Hwy.] 288 was an issue because it created traffic, so the convenience wasn’t great for riders.”
Branson said that more Pearland residents work in the medical center than any other area in the Houston metro, according to information from Houston-Galveston Area Council.
“Obviously the service is needed, but it has to be the right model for it to work,” Branson said.
Branson said the city has previously considered a park and ride service through the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, but because of METRO policy, it only offers park and ride programs to cities outside its service area with a subsidy from the city.
“Were still trying to build the city out and build the infrastructure so to give up a portion of our revenue, we just couldn't afford that,” Hernandez said. “For us to be in the position to provide the subsidies for a park and ride, with time, convenience, and the right price, we’re probably not going to be there for another 10 years.”
Hernandez said he believes people know that at some point a commuting service such as a park and ride will become a necessity, but people have not yet reconciled with the need to pay for it.
In the future as more of Brazoria County develops, Hernandez said he would love to see regional participation in funding a park and ride program for the area.
Branson and Hernandez both agree that with the park and ride service from Coach USA ending, there are not any other immediate options on the table, but the city will continue looking at different options.