February 13, 2009
So much for the Fort Bend-Medical Center shuttle

Well, that didn't last long.

After just six months, the Texas Medical Center has pulled the plug on subsidized express bus service to and from Fort Bend County.

Fort Bend County Commissioners Court members approved an agreement with the Houston medical center in July, which was touted as a way to provide cheap transportation to some of the 14,000 medical center employees in the county.

On Tuesday, court members accepted a termination notice from the medical center, canceling the agreement.

"The use of the service is not what they had projected it was going to be," said Fort Bend County Transit Director Paulette Shelton.

In July, Texas Medical Center Senior Vice President Joyce Camp said about 14,000 people in the Fort Bend area work at institutions in the medical center, with about 8,300 living in zip codes abutting bus routes originating in Katy and Sugar Land.

Before Tuesday's meeting, Shelton said about 100 people were riding the buses from Fort Bend County to the medical center each morning, and about the same number were riding back after work.

Precinct 4 Commissioner James Patterson said the medical center was expecting 450 riders.

"Let's face it, when gas was $4 a gallon a lot of people signed up," he added. "When gas went down to $1.40 a gallon, a lot of people dropped out."

Link via Hair Balls, which noted that there were a few glitches at first, but it still seemed promising. I don't know if the concerns about being stranded during the day if an emergency arose dampened demand, or if people just preferred driving, but whatever the reason it's not terribly encouraging for future rail prospects. I hope some kind of after-action review of customer experiences is performed, so that a potential future successor can learn from this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 13, 2009 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
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