Metropolitan Transit Authority officials have decided to eliminate express bus service to George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Canceling the airport service was one of a dozen suggested route changes that were discussed at a public hearing Tuesday. Metro officials concluded after the hearing that they should proceed with plans to end the service, a decision that doesn’t require board approval, spokesman Jerome Gray said.
The service is expected to stop late next month, Gray said. The local Route 102 bus, which also provides service from downtown to Bush Airport, will continue to operate.
Metro president and chief executive officer George Greanias said the agency had worked hard to make the service succeed, including lowering the fare in January from $15 to $4.50 for a one-way trip.
“Our concern for Airport Direct stemmed strictly from the costs of the service versus revenues we could realistically achieve, not its desirability or our personal wish that it succeed,” Greanias said in a prepared statement.
Metro doesn’t have the cash flow to keep trying to make this work. They gave it a shot, and under other circumstances they might have been able to keep tinkering with it, but this was clearly the responsible thing to do.
Which isn’t to say that there couldn’t be some way to make a service like this be either self-sufficient or only in need of a modest subsidy.
Greg Ortale, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the conversations with Metro had provided a good beginning for new ideas about transportation service to Houston’s airports.
“I think that what needs to happen now is go back and get all the interested parties to retool, think a little bit outside the box and think how we can put together a good, solid express not only to Bush but also to Hobby,” he said.
Ortale said some meetings are planned in the next two weeks to discuss a future airport bus service.
As long as there’s limited exposure for any public funding, I’m okay with taking another crack at it. It really does seem like there ought to be a way.