The League City Chamber of Commerce and Connect Transit hosted an official ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Victory Lakes Park and Ride service today. Listen
League City Chamber of Commerce Chair Bridget Bear welcomed the VIP crowd to the event.
“We are excited to welcome the Gulf Coast Center’s Connect Transit,” Bear said. “We are thrilled; this is awesome. And there were many, many people who were involved in making this happen.”
Local support for the service, in addition to bus fares, is being provided by the University of Texas Medical Branch and the City of League City. The service is managed by Gulf Coast Center’s Connect Transit and will be operated weekdays by the City of Galveston’s Island Transit.
Gulf Coast Center Executive Director Michael Winburn said that the regional mental health authority has been providing transportation services to its clients in Galveston and Brazoria counties since 1982 when it used an old school bus obtained through The Goodman Corporation.
“We called it the Old Gray Goose,” he said, noting that Connect Transit now serves the general public. “Now we’ve got a fleet of beautiful ‘Greyhounds’.”
UTMB Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services Mike Shriner noted the changes in mobility over the past century.
“One hundred years ago everybody was celebrating the automobile and all of the independence it would give you, and now a hundred years later we are thinking we’ve become a lot more dependent on the automobile than we intended to,” Shriner said. “So, it’s interesting to think that as we move forward we are going to have an opportunity to decrease that dependence and probably meet more of our needs, more of our employees' needs.”
“I am so excited on any number of levels,” said Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski, who arrived at the ceremony aboard the Connect bus, recalled the first three years he lived in Galveston and commuted to his job in Downtown Houston. “The most important is that I know what it feels like to have to commute.”
“Well, from the City of League City’s standpoint, this is just an awesome partnership with the University of Texas, with Barry Goodman and The Goodman Corporation, Direct Connect – the Gulf Coast Center’s transit opportunity - for a lot of people that live here in League City to go from here down to the island,” said League City Mayor Tim Paulissen.
“We’ve come a long way,” agreed Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark, also noting the improvements in transportation over the past century. “We have a long way to go, as the mayors have both expressed. We’ve got a lot of growth that’s coming to our area. We need to begin to continue to prepare and move forward with H-GAC’s help and UTMB’s help and everybody’s help to be able to put the infrastructure in that we need - to be able to move people around to maintain our quality of life.”
“This is a great opportunity for us to improve this corridor here on I-45 as we continue to develop our corridor from UTMB in Galveston all the way to the medical center up in Houston,” said State Representative Larry Taylor.
“This is a shining example of how government entities can work together - local state and federal,” said Twila Linblade, speaking for Congressman Ron Paul.
“I want to express my appreciation for the partnership shown that made this facility happen,” added Alan Clark of the Houston-Galveston Area Council.
Transportation consultant Barry Goodman agreed that the project was a good example of collaboration.
“There are ten different sources of funding that are going into this project,” Goodman said. “A couple of sources of federal money, stimulus money, money that has been committed by the City of League City, moneys that have been committed by UTMB, by the City of Galveston.”
Goodman said that seven different agencies, including the Texas Department of Transportation have participated in the project. He said that the new service is the first step in the “evolutionary approach” to commuter rail.
“Recognizing that it’s not something that’s affordable today because the tax base of federal and state governments and local communities simply aren’t at a point where they can afford it; and recognizing that we have to crawl before we walk, walk before we run; and that in fact is what we are trying to do,” Goodman said. “So this represents the first significant regional facility in this corridor.”
The Direct Connect bus service is provided free until May 29. Beginning May 29 one-way fares will be $3.00 and $1.50 for university employees. For the complete morning and afternoon schedules visit www.gulfcoastcenter.org/connect_transportation.aspx.