Park and Ride Report Produces Doubts

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City leaders were less than enthusiastic Monday after hearing the money and negotiations still needed to get a Park and Ride in Pearland.
The good news is that Goodman Corp. President Barry Goodman said the city could likely purchase the half-million dollar commuter buses with the help of federal funds.

“We are recommending the local share be transportation development credits,” he said.

Goodman said the proposals could go into the Houston Galveston Area Council’s current call for projects. “It takes 14 to 16 months to get these buses,” he said. “If we are successful, the buses, we are hoping, will arrive by 2018 to begin service.”

Houston Metro at one time had purchased land at Smith Ranch and Hughes for a Park and Ride in Pearland, but later said it had no immediate plans to pursue the project. Pearland last year entered a contract with the Gulf Coast Center and the Goodman Corporation for a transit study and consulting services.

The Phase 1 Plan calls for 720 parking spaces, and five buses during peak hour service growing to 13 buses in 2022. Development of Phase 1 of the facility would be “somewhere in the 2016/17/18 time frame.”

Grant funding also is available for design of the park and ride facility, though the city would likely have to pay a 20 percent match.
The bad news: The issue of the transfer of the land purchased by Metro is still unresolved.

“I can tell you that over the last 18 to 24 months, representatives of the City of Pearland, Goodman Corporation and the Gulf Coast Center have been trying to engage the Houston Galveston Council and Metro in meaningful discussions about the transition of this Park and Ride facility from Metro’s aborted development to the partnership between the city and the Gulf Coast Center to complete that facility,” Goodman said.
“The ball is in Metro’s court. My understand is that a Metro committee met and didn’t make a decision and tabled an item dealing with the transfer of land,” he said.

Attempts to build a Park and Ride service in the Pearland area date back to 2003.

Options discussed included paying Metro for the land over a three-year period.

Mayor Tom Reid said the city’s budget is tight, and there just isn’t a lot of surplus money around.

“I do believe at some point Metro is going to have to go out to the urbanized areas,” Mayor Tom Reid said, “very much like DART has done in Dallas. But at this point, I don’t hear an awful lot of loud concerns about the need for a Park and Ride.

“At some point, you’ll have the choice of riding the toll road in for about the same price of taking the bus, so I don’t know if we are in the position where we want to spend $300,000 for a service that Metro felt wasn’t necessary.”

“My question is how much of this is benefiting Metro’s taxable area?” Councilman Keith Ordeneaux asked. “That’s where we’re sending the people and honestly we’re sending them to pay taxes and send money in that region. I wish other employers in Houston whose employees live in Pearland would be talking to Metro. I view it as a Metro issue at this point. We need some type of mass transit at some point. The toll roads will be great, but we’re sending money into Houston every day, and it doesn’t look like a wonderful deal for Pearland as a whole in my opinion.”

A lack of regional coordination for transit is clearly reflected here, Goodman said, but again, he said, “the ball is in Metro’s court. Let’s see how Metro responds and come back in executive session and talk about it there.”

A letter from the city to Metro and meeting among officials regarding the site has thus far yielded no decisions.

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