PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

December 18, 2012

Port Arthur offers bus service Saturday for first time in 19 years

PORT ARTHUR — For the first time in 19 years, the city of Port Arthur Transit Department will offer bus service Saturday.

Just in time for the final shopping days before Christmas, the PAT buses will run from 8:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. Saturday, said Floyd Johnson, Port Arthur city manager.

One bus will depart from Central Mall each hour, so people do not have to wait long for the next bus, said Bradford Coleman, PAT operations supervisor. And to make the service even more effective, two buses will run from the mall all day Saturday.

This was an opportunity for the city to serve its transportation-dependent residents since bus service will not be available Dec. 24 or Dec. 25 due to the holidays.

“We thought that was an inconvenience,” Johnson said.

But it would also be an opportunity to see if bus service should be offered every Saturday, Johnson said.

The PAT had intermittent service throughout the spring and early summer of this year due to mechanical problems with its fleet, and this Saturday service trial run would make up for some of those shortcomings, Johnson said. It was about listening to people’s needs and making sure the PAT met those needs, he said.

Overall, this Saturday service run amounted to an experiment, Johnson said. He and the PAT would assess the trial period afterward to see if it justified establishing permanent Saturday service.

If the PAT were to offer service every Saturday, it would have to receive approval from the Federal Transit Administration and hold a public hearing in order to receive public comment, said Colleen Russell, director of transit.

Unlike major metropolitan cities like Houston or Dallas, Port Arthur relies on funding from grants provided by the FTA and the Texas Department of Transportation. The PAT does not receive funding from sales tax revenue like Houston or Dallas, but the city of Port Arthur does contribute money to the transit system.

Each year, PAT applies for grants to fund its operations. FTA grants cover 50 percent of the PAT’s costs for the year, and the other 50 percent of costs are evenly divided between the state and the city.

Because of these grants and funding from the city, the PAT will be able to construct a new administration building and an automatic bus scrubber and maintain its current fleet of buses through an ongoing maintenance and repair schedule.

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