For years, we’ve been reporting on the lack of affordable housing in Port Aransas and what it means for the people who work there.
Many of them have to live in surrounding towns leading to pricey and inconvenient commutes.
“Before the hurricane, we have struggled getting employees here. Then the hurricane happened and … we were short before. We’re really short [now],” said Beth Owens, a council member and business owner in Port Aransas.
She acknowledges that housing is a big factor in that equation.
“We are working very hard on affordable housing but, as of today, we don’t. So, what we really need is transportation,” she told KRIS 6 News.
The RTA is stepping in to help. After surveying business owners, the agency is starting up its “Port Aransas Express” route. It will start at the Staples Street Station in Corpus Christi, then make stops near the H-E-B stores in Ingleside and Aransas Pass, before continuing on to Port Aransas via the ferry.
“We’ll run from Corpus into those areas, run three times in those areas, then come back to Corpus,” explained Rita Patrick, marketing director of the RTA. Patrick said that pattern will run twice a day — once in the morning and again in the afternoon.
Chris Collins, who is general manger of several of Owens’ businesses, said the route gives employees an affordable and viable option to get to Port Aransas from another city. He said, at times, current efforts to coordinate employees’ travel to work is like “running our own taxi service.”
“Now, you’ve got a really affordable way to get to work, not put the wear and tear on your vehicle. You don’t have to wait in the ferry line because the bus gets priority boarding so you come straight across,” Collins said.
The new route can also be a game-changer for people in these towns who want to seek a better-paying job in Port Aransas, but have never had reliable transportation to the island. Both Owens and Collins said businesses in Port Aransas are eager and ready to hire.
“We have a lot of openings for jobs and a lot of room for growth,” Collins said.
Owens added, “If you’re out there thinking, ‘What can I do this summer?’ Please, please come and work in Port A.”
The “Port Aransas Express” route will start service beginning today the for Memorial Day Weekend. The pilot program will run until at least Labor Day, September 2. The route will be in service seven days a week. Fares are only 75 cents each way.
You can find all of the route times and stops on the RTA’s website or by calling 361-883-2287. Agency leaders said to expect 10-15 minutes windows for the stops since the route is just starting.