EAST ALDINE– State Representative Armando Walle organized a meeting last Friday morning at the offices of the East Aldine District, to discuss with representatives of METRO what could be done to increase ridership on the #59 route when it resumes service.
METRO officials announced that the service would start again, on Monday, April 2 if all details can be finalized with equipment and personnel. An announcement confirming the date will be at schools, websites, busstops and the Northeast News, they said.
Representatives of Walle’s office, the Airline District, East Aldine District, Harris County Hospital District, Aldine YOUTH, schools and community groups were present to discuss their ideas for increasing ridership.
Ideas mentioned included making the community more aware of the route structure and fares, and especially the availability of a “Q-CARD” that provides discounts for riders. These will be available at local grocery stores and community events.
Other suggestions included reworking the route to connect to more locations and other bus routes, and adding bus shelters and more stops near destinations. Also discussed was the desire to have Saturday service, for clients of the HC Health Clinic on Aldine Mail, and especially to the flea markets on Airline Drive.
Racquel Roberts of METRO pointed out that they have a Q-STAR program that offers discounts along the new route of the light rail North, and thought a similar program might help in Aldine Mail. Discounts are offered to stores, restaurants and other businesses along the route. East Aldine might also tie this in with their Shoppers Program, it was suggested.
The bus has not run during the month of March, but when it resumes in April, the goal is to increase daily boardings from 250 to about 490 so that in the future the line can financially justify itself. Currently, the East Aldine District has agreed to provide a subsidy of $30,000 until the end of 2012 to keep the service running, and to get time to study methods of increasing its use by the public.
It was agreed that a focus group would be formed to further study suggested solutions, and to process data that might be acquired in a survey.