UT discontinues Texas Express bus service after lack of demand

Claire Allbright

UT has discontinued the Texas Express bus service for the 2015–2016 school year.

The service, contracted through the transportation company Star Shuttle, transported students on weekends and University breaks from campus to Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.

Parking and Transportation Services discontinued the service due to low ridership and competition from other transportation providers, director of PTS Bobby Stone said.

“Service had declined steadily since Megabus came to Austin,” Stone said. “Over the spring semester, several of the weekend bus trips were canceled based on the lack of demand.”

Texas Express prices on trips from Austin to Dallas were $20 and Austin to Houston, $15. The Megabus prices vary depending on a variety of factors.

Physics junior Jairo Portillo said the Texas Express provided a way to get to and from his home in Houston for the past two years but suffered from reliability issues.

“It was very convenient since it was always there, and you could use it as a last-minute trip,” Portillo said. “However, it wasn’t very reliable at times. I once had a conversation with a driver on the trip and noted they always had different drivers, and he told me they just put anyone on the route. This would pose a problem since the drivers wouldn’t know exactly where the stops were. On one instance leaving from Houston after Thanksgiving, the bus nearly never showed up — it was four hours late.”

Portillo said the discontinuation of the bus system would hurt students who do not know about or are unable to use other transportation options. Portillo said he now drives himself and other students home.

“Now I have my own vehicle, so I drive home and offer rides to people,” Portillo said.

Psychology freshman Emily Bastis said she was unaware the Texas Express existed in previous years but believes it would be a great system.

“I think the Texas Express would be beneficial to students who travel home on a regular basis,” Bastis said. “Whenever I travel, I end up having to take the Megabus, and I’m not too happy about that because it is pretty expensive.”

Stone said PTS currently has no plans to implement a similar service due to lack of demand, but is monitoring the market for future changes.

“There are multiple private services that offer low-cost transportation between campus, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio,” Stone said. “Some of these pick up directly from areas adjacent to campus. Each prospective rider should do some market research to find the services that best meets their needs.”