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County Transit Milestone

January 1, 2021

Baytown does its part as service reaches 1 million served

The Harris County Transit’s Fixed Route bus service reached a milestone this month with 1 million-passenger boardings, and Baytown riders made up a large portion of that number, officials say. 

David Jones, Harris County Transit Services deputy assistant director, said of the 1 million boarding passenger boardings as of Dec. 16, 84% of that total comes from actual Baytown boardings. Jones added up to that date, Baytown alone has a total of 847,217 boardings. 

Jones said the Baytown service decreased only by 5% while others lost more ridership due to COVID-19. 

“It has now picked back up,” Jones said. “It is beating last year’s numbers by about 10%.”

Jones added some of the reduced ridership was during the late summer and early fall when there was a threat of hurricanes hitting the Baytown area. 

The passenger boarding count commenced with the start-up on July 28, 2008, through Dec. 16. This service began with a two-route system in Baytown and has grown into a 12-route system serving 185 route miles in east Harris County, with 3,685,428 total miles driven since 2008. The new routes were started last year with CARES Act funds totaling $3.8 million, providing  200,000 new residents with access to public transportation in eastern portions of Harris County. Five new routes began to service areas such as Channelview, Cloverleaf and Sheldon.

Jones Disaster Recovery Funds are only good for three years.

“The ridership has increased a little bit on the routes, but not as much as we’d like,” he said. “But they are slightly increasing. We are starting our second-year service out there, but we are looking at sustaining it after the fact with some federal dollars and looking for local match funding. It is possible we can sustain it after three years. That is our goal.”

Ken Fickes, Harris County Transit Services director, said during the COVID-19 shutdown, HCT has maintained the same level of service, and overall ridership has only decreased by 7%. “Nationwide, other transit agencies have had to shut down or reduce services, and many have seen as much as a 50% to 60% drop in ridership,” Fickes said. 

Fickes said all of the HCT services follow the Regional SITSAFE program to ensure maximum safety for passengers and drivers.

“The SITSAFE banner is designed to both assure riders that our drivers are doing everything within their power to keep buses clean by sanitizing them at least once every hour,” Fickes said. “It also encourages riders to practice those habits the Centers for Disease Control says will help keep us safe such as wearing masks to help prevent the spread of the virus to others; keeping a distance between ourselves and others; consistently washing our hands and avoiding contact between our hands and face.”

Jones said he is hopeful that Baytown will fare positively once things improve with COVID-19. 

“All in all, it has come out pretty good,” he said. “If we can get through the COVID-19 issue and lockdowns, and get the vaccines going and get people out and masks off, I look for everything to take off. Depending on how the ridership is doing and with COVID-19 being a factor, we are looking at Baytown alone getting to 1 million boardings in either late winter 2021 or early 2022.”

Jones said the November boarding numbers were outstanding. 

“It usually runs in the 6,000s because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but we were up 7,600 boardings,” he said. “We are at almost 5,000 right now as of the 16th of Dec. It will die down due to Christmas, but the service itself, compared to 2019, is still up 15%. We are rolling along. And we plan to keep it running. So ride the bus.”

Visit for the latest on HCT happenings. 

By Matt Hollis, Baytown Sun