Bus service to bring reverse commuters to The Woodlands

Bus service to bring reverse commuters to The WoodlandsThe Woodlands Express, a commuter bus service operated by The Woodlands Township, will bring employees from downtown Houston to their jobs in The Woodlands by early 2017.

The reverse-commuter service was approved at a Woodlands Township board of directors meeting in September. Nick Wolda, director of community relations for the township, said the existing buses in the park and ride system bring The Woodlands residents to downtown Houston, the Texas Medical Center and Greenway Plaza and then return back to The Woodlands empty.

“We’re just taking the existing routes that are carrying people into Houston and seeing if there is an audience of people who want to come back to The Woodlands,” Wolda said. “We know people come here from the south, and it’s costing us no extra money to bring people back.”

Wolda said since the reverse-commuter bus program was approved, the township is looking to partner with major corporations in The Woodlands who have employees coming from downtown Houston, such as Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, CB&I and the Huntsman Corporation. According to The Woodlands Township, the Woodlands population doubles in size during the workday due to employees coming in from the Greater Houston area.

“What we’re doing now is reaching out to major employers to find the need,” Wolda said. “We need to find out how to market this. It’s one of those great ideas; we just have to find demand.”

Mike Bass, vice chairman of the township’s board of directors, said employers in The Woodlands have had significant problems hiring workers due to lack of transportation options.

“If you talk to The Westin or Embassy Suites in The Woodlands, they’ve had a significant problem getting people to work there,” Bass said. “It’s been a big problem to attract people to come up [from Houston]. We need to talk to hotels and retail businesses and make sure their employees understand the routes.”

There are three park and ride locations in The Woodlands: the Research Forest Park & Ride, the Sterling Ridge Park & Ride and the Sawdust Park & Ride. Tickets may be purchased at any park and ride terminal and are $13 round-trip.