Future Hub: City mulls $5M transit center

HARLINGEN — A $5 million transit center for buses, vans and taxis has become one of the city’s top priorities.

Today, city commissioners are expected to discuss the project to build a transit hub, ranked as No. 13 in the new 10-year comprehensive plan.

For years, many of the city’s bus riders have bought tickets and boarded buses outside a convenience store off Tyler Avenue near Interstate 69.

“We’d like an area where the buses can intercept and congregate, off load passengers and board passengers,” Assistant City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said yesterday.

So the city is considering construction of a transit center to serve as a hub for buses operated by Valley Metro, Valley Transit Co. and Greyhound along with bus companies such as Adame, Tornado and El Expreso that offer service into Mexico.

Officials expect restaurants and retail shops to open in and around the sprawling transit hub, Gonzalez said.

“We want to get all the transportation providers who provide services in Harlingen under one hub,” Gonzalez said. “It makes it easier for the user of transit services to transfer to another service if they need to.”

So far, the Harlingen-San Benito Metropolitan Transportation Organization has earmarked $3.6 million in state grant money to build the center, Gonzalez said.

He said the grant requires the city provide $1 million in matching money.

The city is reviewing possible funding sources to meet the grant’s requirements, Gonzalez said. He said the city has not selected a possible site for the project.

For Valley Metro, the transit center would serve as a hub in northern Cameron County.

“We highly support this,” Tom Logan, director of Valley Metro, operated by the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, said of the proposed transit center. “It’s a project that would benefit Harlingen and the surrounding community.”

In Brownsville and McAllen, restaurants and retail businesses have opened in and around transit centers there.

“As we’ve seen in McAllen and Brownsville, it’s like a one-stop shop where people can get their transportation needs addressed,” Logan said.

Now, Valley Metro offers seven buses in the Harlingen area, where the city’s medical complex and Texas State Technical College draw large numbers of riders.

In February, Harlingen served as a hub for about 26,453 riders, said Joel Garza, director of the Harlingen-San Benito Metropolitan Transportation Organization.

“The numbers keep growing substantially,” Gonzalez said.

By The Numbers

Cost: $5 million

Grant: $3.6 million

City Match: $1 million