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Bay Area Houston Guidry News Gazette Gulf Coast Big Brothers Big Sisters
Galveston County
Galveston County Transit District Board of Directors
by Jim Guidry
Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Galveston County Transit District Board of Directors, meeting in Kemah on Wednesday, voted unanimously to elect Galveston County Judge Mark Henry as chair.

Transportation consultant Rick Beverlin of The Goodman Corporation updated the group on the recent visit to Washington, D.C. by a delegation from Galveston and the status of transit legislation activity.
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“In general there is no money, as we know, within the transportation funding process for transportation reauthorization,” Beverlin said. “Another high point is at some point in the near future we are going to have a locally preferred alternative for what we are calling the Galveston-Houston Mobility Corridor. What that would be would be up to the citizens and the communities and this body, and ultimately would have to be blessed at H-GAC; and it would have to be consistent with TxDOT at least being not in opposition to it.”

Rick Elizondo, the chief financial officer for the Gulf Coast Center, reported on Connect Transit’s operations. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer

“About a year and a half ago we actually started fixed-route services in the Texas City urbanized and rural areas,” Elizondo said, explaining that previously all Connect Transit service was “demand” service that required patrons to schedule trips in advance.

Elizondo said Connect also operates the park and ride service at Mall of the Mainland and is working on a park and ride lot at Victory Lakes.

“We haven’t made a determination on whether we are going to keep the Mall of the Mainland operating at the same time as the Victory Lakes (P&R) yet,” Elizondo said.

Alan Clark of the Houston-Galveston Area Council updated the group on the H-GAC Transportation Policy Council, which is considering the 2011 – 2014 Transportation Improvement Program. 
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“In February, the executive officers of the TPC provided their recommendations for how the allocations of funding should be made across four motility categories,” Clark said, noting that the recommended allocations are: 78 percent for mobility (roadways, freight and access management); 11.2 percent for alternative modes (transit, livable centers, pedestrian and bicycles); and 10.8 percent for air quality (vanpool and carpool programs, clean vehicles and programs to reduce on- road mobile emissions).

Clark reported that a “very large number” of advocates of bicycle-pedestrian funding attended the February meeting of the TPC and will be back on Friday for a workshop prior to the next meeting of the TPC.

“There are some who feel that this is sort of a referendum on bicycle and pedestrian projects,” Clark said. “I don’t think it’s that. The policy council intends, I think, to continue to look at these and work with local governments that want to implement them.”

Clark said the main issue is the lack of funding for transportation projects.

“We have so little money,” he said. “We dramatically reduced the highway projects, both for construction and even maintenance, in our last Regional Transportation Plan.”

John Sedlak of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County said that previous funding decisions in the region have supported road construction as opposed to transit projects.
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“Our funding balance has been highly rated in this region mostly to private transportation, a small portion to public transportation – transit,” he said. “I think it’s due time that this region, as it has matured now to a region of 5-plus million to 8.5 million, has to bring more balance to its transportation policy and its strategy in how we are going to use what limited flexible dollars we have.”

The group also discussed options for a logo for the Galveston County Transit District, but took no action. The next meeting will be on Wednesday, May 11.




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