Civic groups will try again to get more bus routes into Hidalgo County’s colonias

Public transportation was voted a top issue the last time Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force held a town hall meeting with colonia groups. That was back in December.

ALAMO, Texas – Civic groups representing mostly colonia residents are going to try again to get more bus routes added to help their members.

The lack of public transportation in Hidalgo County’s colonias was one of the top issues identified by groups like ARISE, Proyecto Azteca, and La Unión del Pueblo Entero at a meeting of the Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force in south Alamo last December. The Colonia groups, which are grouped under the Voces Unidas RGV umbrella, did not get very far last time but they are pushing hard on the issue again. 

“A lot of interest in transportation came out of the December 1 meeting of the Voces Unidas group and members of the Prosperity Task Force,” said Amber Arriaga-Salinas, assistant executive director of Proyecto Azteca. “So, Voces Unidas members are asking for a follow-up to the meeting to discuss transportation again.”

Arriaga-Salinas continued: “We have arranged for a meeting to discuss transportation for Thursday, September 28th from 9:00 AM to 11:00AM at the Precinct 2 Community Center in Alamo. Staff from Valley Metro and the RGV Metropolitan Planning Organization will be giving a presentation and will answer any questions.”

In an email to the Voces Unidas group, Arriaga-Salinas said the meeting will not be table discussion. “However, it is an opportunity to share information on how to make the system work for you. All community people are invited. We especially encourage all community organizers to attend.”

The address of the Precinct 2 Community Center is 1429 South Tower Road, Alamo, TX 78516.

The Prosperity Task Force was set up by Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez to address systemic poverty in his county. The task force’s point person in former South Texas College dean of business, Mario Reyna.

Leading the charge for better public transportation in Hidalgo County’s colonias at the Dec. 1, 2022, town hall meeting, was Ramona Casas, social justice coordinator for ARISE.

Dozens of colonia residents sat around tables to discuss the issues they care most about. There was a table each for healthcare, jobs, education, housing, immigration, and transportation. When it was time to make recommendations, transportation topped the list.

“Transportation is one of the big issues. We don’t have public transportation in the colonias. But, our families need transportation to move from one place to another. To go to the doctor’s, to go to the pharmacy,” Casas told the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service at the time.

Casas said students living in colonias in Hidalgo County need public transportation to get to UT-Rio Grande Valley or South Texas College.

“We have Valley Metro and we know that they’re moving into the main streets, in the cities. But no. We need this public transportation moving to our communities, that rural communities, that are far away from downtown.”

Casas said even if the Legislature could fund Valley Metro for a bus service one day a week in and out of the largest colonias it would be a help. That did not happen during the 88th Legislature. 

At another Prosperity Task Force, held at the Hidalgo County Courthouse also in December, 2022, Sarah Dierlam, then the assistant executive director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, said her group had the money to add more bus routes in the larger colonias. What it lacked, she said, were qualified drivers.

Editor’s Note: Click here to watch a video with the remarks of Dierlam.

Editor’s Note: Click here to watch a video of with the remarks of Casas.

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