WESLACO, RGV – Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council leaders visited Austin recently to secure funding to ensure bus services for Starr and Zapata counties.
Ken Jones, executive director of the LRGVDC, and Tom Logan, executive director of Valley Metro, met with Eric Gleason, director of the public transportation division of TxDOT.
TxDOT asked LRGVDC and Valley Metro to step in after being notified that the non-profit Community Action Council of South Texas, based in Rio Grande City, could no longer continue to run its Rainbow Line bus service in Starr and Zapata counties. A remarkable aspect to this is that the LRGVDC is not the Council of Government for Starr or Zapata counties.
The story of how Valley Metro stepped in to help what would have been stranded passengers is told in this week’s Ron Whitlock Reports show on Televisa. Noelia Ruiz, program administrator for Valley Metro in Starr and Zapata counties explains on the show that the new service has been a life-saver for the two rural counties.
“It is a remarkable story of how two South Texas border counties faced the closure of their bus system and how 300 of their citizens who relied on the service every day, found a neighbor to help save it,” said Whitlock.
“When the Council of Government and its executive director Ken Jones heard from the State of Texas that the non-profit public transportation provider in Starr and Zapata counties was being closed, it contacted the two county judges, who were desperate to try and keep the bus system operating. Following urgent meetings of the commissioners courts for each county, an official request was forwarded to the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, where its Valley Metro public transportation staff went to work to achieve what seemed almost impossible.”
Whitlock added: “Within a few short weeks an almost seamless transition was accomplished from the defunct Rainbow Lines to LRGVDC-Valley Metro, saving the jobs of 25 employees and maintaining a decades-old public transportation system that the people of Starr and Zapata counties relied on every day to get to work, school, receive medical care and pick up prescriptions, shop for groceries and other family needs, or for entertainment and other things that others who have their own transportation take for granted.”
The TV program airs Saturday, August 1, from 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. on Televisa’s “El Canal de las Estrellas” Channel 9 and Time Warner Cable 19.
Editor’s Note: Pictured in the main image accompanying this story are Ken Jones, executive director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, Eric Gleason, director of the public transportation division of the Texas Department of Transportation, and Tom Logan, executive director of Valley Metro. They are pictured at TxDOT’s headquarters in Austin, Texas.