New bus service gets rough start

September 2, 2008 10:53:48 AM PDT
A new shuttle service from Sugar Land to the Medical Center got off to a rough start this morning. As people lined up for the new bus service, many of the buses didn't show up.Fort Bend County is not known for its public transportation service and officials today were hoping that this new route would change that image. But following this morning's snag, they say they have a lot of tweaking to do with this new route.

For Medical Center employees in Fort Bend County, their day started with a new alternative, one that was less expensive and an easier way to commute to work.

"I think it is going to be very convenient," said one passenger.

An hour and half later, that promise wasn't as stress free as they had hoped. The Fort Bend County Express had a major meltdown during the debut of its new Medical Center route. Four of the buses never picked up passengers at the second pickup site.

Paulette Shelton with the Fort Bend County Transportation Department admits things didn't go as smoothly as they had predicted.

"First of all, there were more customers than we expected. But secondly, we had one bus break down and then two buses get caught up in traffic," she said.

"Yeah, I'm going to be late," said passenger Barbara Burke.

Burke and others could no longer wait, saying an hour had been long enough. For those who stuck it out, they may have been late, but at least the ride was free.

Some people told Eyewitness News that employers will pay for their rides once the free week goes away.

The trips to the Medical Center will start at 5:30am every morning until 9:15am. Evening routes start at 3:40 pm until 8pm. A bus will run every 20 minutes during the scheduled times.

Riders can catch the Fort Bend County Express at the U of H Sugar Land campus and at the First Colony Mall AMC theater parking lot. There are eight stops in the Med Center. Two of those stops are at the Cancer Treatment Center and the V.A. Hospital, so patients can be dropped off directly in front the buildings.

The cost is $3.50 per ticket one way. Discounts are being offered if you buy a book of tickets and rides are free for the first week of service.

These are not the big coach type buses. These are more like the hotel tourism style buses that seat about 20-22 people and depending on how things go, additional routes will be added to the Katy area.

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