Metro McAllen is using a 40-foot electric bus powered by electricity, rather than diesel fuel
By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition September 2018
On Monday, August 27, 2018, Texas Border Business met with Jim Darling, McAllen Mayor; Veronica Whitacre, City Commissioner; Jeff Johnston, Deputy Assistant to the city manager; and Mario Delgado, the Transportation Director of the City of McAllen. Mario is the one responsible for assuring that all public transportation runs according to the plans approved by the city fathers.
Mayor Darling is always in a hyperactive mood, this time at 6:30 in the morning, he was even more. He was taking part in the inaugural first ride of Route 8. Mayor Darling said, “The best part of the ride was getting to talk to the students, two of the young female students are in the biology studies, a pre-cursor to medical school in Edinburg.” He continued, “We had a young man from Brownsville. So, it’s great to see all the kids from the Valley benefiting from Texas A&M and UTRGV. I mean, it’s just fantastic to have choices and I think competition’s good and it was very nice.”
Mario, the transportation director said that Route 8 was designed to go to the newest satellite location for one of the state’s flagship institutes of higher learning located in the master community of Tres Lagos Development. He said, “Route 8 is important because it delivers students at the front steps of Texas A&M University”.
He also pointed out that they communicated with students of the university and got feedback of their needs. The approximate 30-minute one-way trip will make 10 round-trips a day, with the last one leaving from the school at 8:55 p.m., arriving at the Metro McAllen Transit Center by 9:25 p.m.
Additionally, the route will feature a transfer for students who live in Edinburg and take the Metro Connect. The route roughly travels twelve miles one-way. See Map Below.
Five students from Texas A&M participated, they were from engineering, and others from bio-medical science. Names of students riding the inaugural Route 8: Giselle Sustaita, Allyson Ochoa, Brandon Treviño, Christian Saldaña, and Monica Gomez.
Mario says that they are expecting 15 to 20 students to join as the word about the service gets to them and the number will climb pretty quickly.
Veronica Whitacre said, “What is the most important is these children have an opportunity to be able to go to Texas A&M, transfer if they like, or finish their four-year program right here and be an Aggie.”
Veronica also said that this ride is a historic event. “As I learned this morning we already have 180 students that are going to be going to Texas A&M right here in Hidalgo County in McAllen and will get a degree. I mean a reputable degree, biomedical engineering, engineering, and public health; it is just an opportunity for these students to be able to be educated in our own backyard is a huge, huge accomplishment for us.”
Jeff Johnston said, “Well, fantastic trip. It was good to have five Texas A&M students on the bus. So obviously they’re excited about the new route, it’ll make the commute easier for them.” He continued, “Then, of course, we’re excited about having these students start their first class at the university. This is a fantastic opportunity for them and for the city to participate.”
McAllen has always been a great collaborator and stimulator of education, so the fee for all student riders will be $.50 each way.“So, a round-trip is only a dollar,” he said.
Mario noted that there was no service to the northwest of McAllen; they have great expectations it will grow in number of people using public transportation.
“It is a matter for people to know that this is available to them, a service that is convenient, efficient, and affordable”.
“What’s more,” he said, “The bus route is already on Metro McAllen’s new mobile app that shows real-time arrivals of routes, so students can always be on time for their bus. It features WiFi, giving students time to do any last-minute homework assignments on their way to school.” In addition, he said the app works on iPhone and Android platforms in real time.
Here is a video to an approximate 30-minute Route 8 inaugural ride to Texas A&M University, Tres Lagos Master Community Development. We made the trip on video less than two minutes, enjoy! By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez