Valley Metro ridership passes half-million mark

SAN BENITO — Valley Metro has already cracked the 500,000-rider mark since the beginning of the fiscal year, with 23 percent of that ridership occurring in Cameron County.

Among individual cities, Edinburg was far in the lead thanks to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley with 213,189 riders, followed by McAllen with 84,642, Harlingen with 37,263, Brownsville with 32,791 and Pharr with 21,001 to round out the top five.

The ridership numbers are from Sept. 1, 2017, through the end of April. With four months to go in this fiscal year, it seems certain the Valley’s bus service will break its all-time record set last year of 562,787 riders.

“We had a total ridership for fiscal year 2018 starting in September through April of 508,903, and that’s a total difference of over 113,000 riders, which makes it about a 29-percent increase in riders,” Valley Metro’s Jon Ray Bocanegra told the Harlingen-San Benito Metropolitan Planning Organization board Wednesday.

“Twenty-three percent were from Cameron County.”

Rounding out the Top 10 in city ridership are Port Isabel in sixth spot with 14,209 riders, Weslaco with 13,827 riders, Mission with 11,892, San Benito with 9,914 and Donna with 7,953.

The top routes within the Valley Metro system are the Vaquero Express in Edinburg with 171,711 riders, Route 31 in Hidalgo County (59,340), the JagExpress in Weslaco, Pharr and McAllen (48,396), Route 45 in Cameron County which starts at Texas State Technical College and runs to UTRGV-Brownsville (36,542), Route 50 serving Brownsville-Port Isabel (39,925) and Route 20 in Mission (24,879).

Valley Metro provides transportation services to Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo, Starr and Zapata counties.