Although it would be wise to bring back the Bobcat Tram Interurban services in the future, removing the routes is a step in the right direction toward tackling issues here in San Marcos first.
Texas State will no longer be providing bus services to the Kyle/Austin and New Braunfels/San Antonio areas beginning Aug. 26, according to a Jan. 31 campus-wide email. The decision to cancel the interurban tram was partly made with the justification that transportation services could focus on better serving the student community living in San Marcos.
The university’s transportation services have been struggling for a period of time, which has become obvious since the end of the past fall semester. Texas State enrollment numbers have been steadily increasing with a total growth of 30.1 percent over the past decade, according to a Sept. 19 press release.
A larger enrollment, combined with intense congestion of highly populated tram routes, has made semesters tough for Bobcat bus patrons. It seems unlikely tram issues will get better any time soon, with the addition of apartment complexes and student living communities this upcoming fall. It is apparent the bus transportation problem in San Marcos has regressed, and a solution needs to be found sooner, rather than later.
Transportation services’ decision to cut the Kyle/Austin and New Braunfels/San Antonio routes is rightfully aimed. Interurban route users make up 4.1 percent of the total number of tram riders, according to a Feb. 5 University Star article. It would seem taking action to benefit the bulk of local riders would be a priority because an overwhelming majority of passengers reside in San Marcos.
Large student communities like Aspen Heights, Copper Beech, Hillside Ranch and other future complexes will soon feel an even heavier stress from the system if the tram shortage is not remedied. There seems to be a deficiency of buses used for local routes, and continually packed trams are evidence. Trams are scarce for highly populated areas such as Mill Street, Blanco River and Aquarena Springs, and these routes will likely be further strained when new complexes open this fall. Trams are typically overflowing with both sitting and standing riders at the busiest Quad bus loop times. It is imperative these problems are fixed, and the move to end commuter routes will help with the issue.
However, throwing away the interurban tram routes should not be a permanent solution. The problems in San Marcos must be quickly remedied with solid action, but those who rely on the tram to travel to Kyle, Austin, New Braunfels or San Antonio cannot be ignored. Transportation services must work to solidify quality provisions for local students so they can potentially offer interurban routes in the future. It is important for Texas State to keep all students in mind, and inconveniencing a small population for even a short period of time could create huge backlash.
Transportation services may struggle to find the perfect balance of local and interurban transit unless proper action is taken. Students will be more efficiently served if Texas State can remedy this issue in a timely manner while returning the interurban tram service in the near future.