The Woodlands Township board of directors approved moving forward on a fare increase for The Woodlands Express transit program as use and maintenance needs increase since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What you need to know

During the Feb. 22 township meeting, board members unanimously approved a $2 fare increase for The Woodlands Express transit program.

Jonathan Brooks, team transit lead for The Goodman Corporation, presented a study of the township transit program in regards to efficiency and transit needs. Brooks said the industry standard is to review fares every five years; however, the township has not increased fares since 2016. The approved plan allows for an initial $2 increase to fares in the first two years, with an additional $1.50 increase if needed in 2026.
  • Current fare: $13
  • Potential fare in 2024-25: $15
  • Potential fare in 2026: $16.50
Prior to the pandemic, fares were enough to cover the expenses for the transit service, Brooks said. However, continued use and increased costs to operate the service have led to a need to increase funding for the transit, Brooks said.

Quote of note

“It's a bit of a professional judgment,” Brooks said. “You can model a lot of things and look at peers and what kind of happened after fare changes, but The Woodlands historically has not [lost ridership] when modest fare increases have been implemented. The change in ridership has held fairly steady.”

What else?

Another change coming to the transit program is moving away from paper ticketing for The Woodlands Express.

Ruthanne Haut, director of transportation for The Woodlands Township, said they expect to phase out paper ticketing by 2026. Starting Jan. 1, 2027, only the following ticket methods will be allowed on township transit:
  • Mobile tickets
  • Radio Frequency ID cards
  • Single-use fare cards
Paper tickets will no longer be sold starting in July 2025, with any existing paper tickets expiring in December 2026.

What’s next

No fare change can be officially put into effect until June in order to provide the time frame to collect public feedback on the fare change. A public hearing is expected to be held in April according to township officials following a 30-day comment period in March.