Council approved the proposal during Monday's regular meeting. As far as implementation goes, Mayor Allen Owen said he would like to have the service running by the time classes start at the city's Houston Community College campus this fall.
Requested destinations include senior living facilities, city facilities, grocery stores, shopping centers and hospitals, said Jim Archer, director of service planning for METRO. The shuttle service would also connect with the existing Fondren, Briargate and Texas Medical Center Park & Ride METRO routes, making it easier for residents to reach downtown destinations in Houston.
"One of the key things that the committee asked us to highlight was the fact that on the eastern end, that Missouri City Fondren lot connects to three of our existing bus routes, one of which, the Missouri City TMC route, takes people directly to the Texas Medical Center," Archer said.
It would take approximately 30 minutes to reach the medical center from Missouri City with the METRO service, Archer said.
An annualized variable cost of $500,000 and initial capital costs of $2,000 would be covered by METRO, according to the presentation.
As a community connector service, the METRO route within Missouri City would not operate outside the city. While it can connect travelers to buses going to and from the city of Houston, the Missouri City service itself would not leave city limits, Archer said. Each bus can fit 12 passengers and two wheelchairs.
"This is a demand-response type service," Archer said. "There are basically three options for someone to ride this service. The first of which is that they could show up at either the Walmart anchor on the west [side] or the Missouri City Fondren [Park & Ride] lot on the east [side]. The second one is if you want to make a particular trip on a particular day you can call in and [drivers] would arrange as part of the trip to pick you up. The third option would be if you had a regular trip—that is you're going to be making a trip every Tuesday and Thursday—you call in and make that registration, and we will put that in our system and make sure we pick you up."
The service would be operational seven days a week for 14 hours per day with two to three buses running at peak times, Archer said. A specific window of time has yet to be determined as METRO officials only put forth the proposal during Monday's meeting. Base fare would be $1.25 per rider, Archer said.