Conferees representing Guadalupe and Hays counties, Martindale and San Marcos voted unanimously to merge their transit districts under Capital Area Rural Transportation System July 16.
The meeting was held to decide between two choices for the city’s new Urban Transit District. The City of San Marcos, along with parts of Martindale, Redwood and Caldwell and Hays counties had the option to create their own transportation districts, allowing for more control but requiring more money and resources.
“What we want to do is build that bridge to help San Marcos get to the next stage to create the transit system they want,” said David Marsh, CARTS general manager.
CARTS is looking to avoid drastic cuts in transit hours, develop a five year finance and implementation strategy and look for grant opportunities, among other commitments for the next two years, Marsh said.
Mid-term goals for the next three to five years include optimizing transfers among locations other than CARTS facilities and integrating the university’s shuttle service.
“We are both aware of some of the challenges as well as the opportunities,” said Joe Richmond, director of transportation for Texas State. “One of the first things we are going to be talking about is sharing common bus stops, future plans and how the services can complement each other.”
This decision was made after the 2010 Census ruled San Marcos an urbanized area, which allows the city to receive federal and state funding for public transportation if the transportation district meets federal requirements.
“It is a dawn of a great age in San Marcos,” said Kim Porterfield, San Marcos city councilmember, Place 1.
Hays County Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe said the decision to work with CARTS saves the city and county money.
“I think there are a lot of individuals, including the poor and the elderly, that utilize these services, and we need to provide them with the most effective service,” Ingalsbe said. “I also believe that the best way we are going to do that is combining our forces.”
The decision will go into effect in October, when San Marcos will officially lose its previous status as a rural area, Porterfield said.