Valley Metro expecting ridership increase ahead of rising fuel prices

1 year 8 months 3 weeks ago Monday, March 14 2022 Mar 14, 2022 March 14, 2022 10:57 PM March 14, 2022 in News - Local

The Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council’s executive director said it’s possible the continuing high price of gasoline could cause more riders to utilize public transportation.

Although data for the month of March is not yet available, January's ridership of 22,233 saw a more-than 19 percent increase to February’s 26,566 riders.

“We have rough estimates right now, and we’re seeing an uptick in numbers and ridership at this point in time,” said LRGVDC executive director Manuel Cruz. “It’s always better to take a Valley Metro bus instead of pumping $80 or $90 into a gas tank when Valley Metro’s available and can take you anywhere in the 5-county area.”

LRGVDC provides cross-county transportation to rural and urban areas through a number of routes through its transit department, Valley Metro. The majority of Valley Metro riders Channel 5 News spoke with Monday afternoon didn’t own a vehicle, but said it's a service they found dependable.

“It would be a lot cheaper for them,” said Donna resident Cam Alvarez. “You might have to wait an hour, but if you can just time yourself to get there the same time a bus does — you’ve got it made.”

San Juan resident Julian Santillan was passively waiting for Valley Metro’s Route 31 to take him back home after a day’s work in McAllen. He says he’s been utilizing the valley’s public transit systems for more than 10 years.

The Spanish speaker said he is beginning to see more people turn to public transportation, adding that the $4 price tag for a gallon of gas is just too much.

Cruz, who noted that the system will be stepping away from free fares beginning in April 2022, said that the routes they offer can still help cut costs at times when people might feel a financial squeeze.

“It’s tight right now,” Cruz said. “So Valley Metro’s here for the community to provide this transportation service at a much lower cost than it would be to fill up a gas tank.”

For more information about Valley Metro, visit www.lrgvdc.org

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