Back in September, with great fanfare and more than its share of glitches, officials from Fort Bend County and the Medical Center announced a new bus service for the estimated 14,000 people who worked in one place and lived in the other.
Today the dream died.
Fort Bend County Commissioners Court accepted a termination notice today from the Medical Center, saying ridership just wasn't what it was projected to be.
Officials had expected about 450 riders a day; it got about 100.
"Let's face it, when gas was $4 a gallon a lot of people signed up," commissioner James Patterson told a reporter from Fort Bend Now. "When gas went down to $1.40 a gallon, a lot of people dropped out."
Riders paid $4 per trip, and the Medical Center subsidized the rest of the cost (the subsidization was estimated to have been alomst $500,000 over a one-year period.
As we noted when the service was inaugurated, the system even offered "emergency" rides home for anyone needing to leave suddenly in the middle of the day, no questions asked.
If the price of gas goes back to the four-dollar range, there's a possibility the service can be reinstated.
But only until gas drops enough that people clamor to get back into their own cars again, apparently.
-- Richard Connelly
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