Historically there has always been intercity bus service between Galveston and Houston provided by Greyhound, Kerrville, Trailways, and finally Megabus. At various times in the past there were also intermediate stops in Texas City, LaMarque, and League City. Most recently service was provided by Megabus once in the morning and once in the evening. This service was lost during 2013 when Megabus chose to leave this market when ridership did not meet their corporate expectations despite preliminary discussions with the City about moving their operations to Island Transit’s new downtown transit terminal.
To fill this void, The City of Galveston led a partnership of three Galveston County governments to startup an intercity transit service to connect the rural City of Galveston and other mainland destinations in Galveston County to Houston where it is possible to access regional transit services and at least two intercity bus providers with service nationwide. Funds were sought and awarded from TxDOT’s Section 5311 ICB program to demonstrate the market viability, to continue in this proposed publicly operated manner, and possibly attract a private intercity bus provider back to this corridor. TGC assisted the city with developing and submitting the funding request as part of the 2015 coordinated call for projects. Upon award of the funds, TGC was again enlisted to assist with the implementation of the service. The basis of the proposed new intercity bus service is to build upon public transit services already provided in Galveston and Harris counties. By providing a linkage, Galveston as well as several other small cities and rural areas, can access regional and national transit connectivity. For the new service, Island Transit operates one bus (already available within its fleet) from its downtown transit terminal stopping at METRO’s Bay Area Park and Ride where all passengers transfer from Island Express bus to the preexisting METRO service. Conversely passengers originating in Houston transfer to Galveston’s intercity bus at BAPR for the return trip to Galveston. The BAPR buses terminate in downtown Houston, providing the ability to transfer to most of METRO’s 77 local bus routes and three light rail lines. The Houston Downtown Transit Center stop is across the street from the Megabus intercity bus terminal to the west (serving Dallas, San Antonio, New Orleans) and two blocks from Greyhound’s intercity bus terminal to the south (the 9th busiest bus terminal in the United States) that also is served by other intercity and international bus carriers. TxDOT funding was provided for half of the net operating cost with the two cities and the county splitting the other half.