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Fort Bend County
12550 Emily Court, Ste. 400
Houston Downtown Management District
Transportation Program Leader
Bus Service and 28 Rolling Stock for new services from FBC to Downtown Houston
Bus service along US 59 / I-69 from First Colony AMC Theatre Sugar Land to Downtown Houston
US 59 / I-69 from First Colony AMC Theatre Sugar Land to Downtown Houston
Fort Bend County serves a population of more than 700,000 residents across its 17 counties and large unincorporated areas. The county is growing rapidly, and by 2040 is expected to be home to nearly 1.3 million residents – an increase of 70 percent. Fort Bend County Transit (FBCT) is working hard to provide transportation options to its residents that will allow them to access job centers across the Houston region. Currently, FBCT offers service from three Fort Bend Park & Ride locations to Greenway Plaza, the Galleria, and the Texas Medical Center (TMC). However, downtown Houston is not currently accessible via direct commuter service from Fort Bend County, despite the fact that Fort Bend residents make over 32,000 trips per day to Downtown Houston. By 2040, this number is projected to increase to 46,000 daily trips, an increase of 43 percent. By comparison, each of the three employment centers that FBCT currently serves with commuter service draw fewer daily trips than downtown Houston.
Because a seamless transit service is not available for Fort Bend County residents to commute to Downtown Houston, the vast majority of these trips are made by automobile. In 2014, Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) completed the Seamless Regional Transit Fort Bend County to Downtown Houston study in partnership with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Houston METRO, Fort Bend County, the City of Sugar Land, Central Houston, and Chevron - evaluated five separate options for transit service from Fort Bend County to Downtown Houston. The alternatives studied included both one-seat rides without transfers and two-seat rides with one transfer, with service provided by either FBCT using smaller, medium-duty buses or by METRO using larger, heavy-duty commuter buses. Based on the study’s finding, Fort Bend County was chosen to implement the recommended alternative presented in this application.
This recommended service will be operated by FBCT and connect riders from Fort Bend County to Downtown Houston. At inception, the service will operate from a temporary, leased Park & Ride located at the First Colony AMC Theatre in Sugar Land. A separate on-call application has been submitted to H-GAC for funding to develop a new, permanent Park & Ride at the campus of the University of Houston – Sugar Land. Both locations are approximately 24 miles from downtown Houston.
This funding application, for 28 new buses and initial transit operating support, would allow FBCT to realize the recommendations made in the 2014 study for a new, dedicated commuter service from Fort Bend County to downtown Houston. FBCT has worked hard to create key partnerships with the Houston Downtown Management District and UH Sugar Land to support this additional new service, which is explained in more detail in the responses that follow.
This project will provide for the launch of an additional Fort Bend County Transit (FBCT) commuter route to Downtown Houston by supporting the purchase of 28 new commuter buses as well as operating expenses for the new service for an initial three-year period.
Both elements of this project are the result of recommendations from the 2014 TTI study (described in the previous response), which evaluated a number of vehicle and service alternatives for the new downtown Houston service. The transit vehicles for which funding is being requested are medium-duty, 40-passenger Freightliner Cutaway buses which will include wheelchair mobility lifts, fareboxes, bike racks and security cameras. The buses cost $148,745 each and have an expected useful life of approximately seven years or 200,000 miles. They are similar to FBCT’s current 50-vehicle fleet.
FBCT has an existing contract in place with bus vendors and is proposing to order the vehicles in late 2020. Orders take six months for delivery and an additional three months for titling, licensing and wrapping with FBCT branding. The vehicles will therefore be ready for a service start date in August 2021.
FBCT’s request for operating expenses would support 80% of the downtown service’s expenditures for its first three years. The service will operate from 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Monday through Friday, with ten or fifteen minute headways during the morning and evening peak periods. Passenger fares would be set at $4 each way. A detailed service and operating plan has been developed by TTI, which forecasts daily ridership of 1,030 passengers in Year 1, growing to 1,710 passengers by Year 4. At peak ridership projections in Year 4, the farebox recovery ratio is forecast at 77 percent. The detailed service schedule and map of downtown stops is attached to this application.
FBCT will initiate service from a leased parking lot facility. A permanent lot is planned for the University of Houston Sugar Land campus via a partnership between the County and the University. A separate project application has been submitted for development of the permanent parking facility.
FBCT has entered into a partnership with the Houston Downtown District whereby they will provide up to $300,000 in local cash to support the new service’s operating costs. Should FBCT be awarded funding from H-GAC for the first three years of service, FBCT ultimately will use FTA Section 5307 and 5511 funding sources, as well as local match sources, to ensure that the service can continue well into the future.
FBC is requesting TDCs to support the purchase of buses and service. The County would provide local cash match for the bus purchase should TDCs not be available. The local cash match needed to support actual service costs would be shared by the county with the Downtown District, with each partner providing 50% of the local cash match requirement should TDCs not be available.
Connecting Fort Bend County to downtown Houston with reliable and affordable commuter transit service is not just essential for Fort Bend’s growing residential population, but it represents a regionally-significant transportation investment that will benefit commuters across the Houston region. The primary outcomes to be achieved by this project include:
1. The new commuter service will promote environmental sustainability by taking cars off the road, reducing both congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Downtown Houston is one of the largest employment destinations for residents of Fort Bend County. The lack of a reliable and direct commuter transit option means that more of these residents have little option but to travel to / from their jobs by private automobile. The success of other FBCT commuter routes proves that a downtown service will achieve or exceed its ridership estimates, removing hundreds or thousands of cars from the road each day.
2. The new service will expand employment opportunities for Fort Bend County residents who were previously unable or unwilling to drive to Downtown Houston each day for work. Fort Bend is one of the fastest-growing counties in Texas, forecast to grow 70 percent by 2040. Downtown Houston commuter service will be essential for providing the county’s growing residents with access to the jobs and opportunities found in the region’s largest employment cluster.
3. Fort Bend County is also home to a large population of vulnerable elderly and disabled residents who will benefit from having a simple one-seat ride to Downtown Houston for medical or other trip purposes.
4. The TTI study has carefully considered a number of rolling stock options for the proposed downtown service. The selected option for 40-seat passenger buses represents a cost-effective option that can easily be incorporated into FBCT’s current fleet. FBCT has a strong track record for bus maintenance and the new buses will continue to be maintained in accordance with FBCT’s operating standards and Transit Asset Management Plan.
I Don't Know
Less than $100 million
(Expand) Transit Expansion
View Uploaded File: Funding commitment letters.pdf
None of the Above
View Uploaded File: Project Development Timeline - FBCT Bus Purchase & Downtown Service.pdf
Due to the County’s existing turnkey contract to operate the service, established vehicle procurement process, and in-progress marketing efforts, FBCT will be ready to market and implement this new service and have trained drivers on the road as early as June 2020.
Based on the 2014 TTI study and the 2017 FBCT Long Range Plan, data analysis shows that the county, particularly the Sugar Land area, will continue to grow in the coming years, leading to an increase in demand for commuter transit service to the region’s largest employment destination, Downtown Houston. Population and employment projections from H-GAC show that this commuter route is a critical missing link in the region’s current transportation network. Without this project, the number of individual drivers will increase each year, adding to congestion and emissions throughout the H-GAC region.
FBCT plans to promote heavily the new service between grant award and the anticipated revenue start date of August 2021 to attract new riders. FBCT has taken an impressive step towards creating an effective and engaging Marketing Plan by soliciting for a professional marketing or public relations firm. Request for Proposals were issued in September 2018 and FBCT is expected to award contract by November 2018. This contract will include market research, brand refinement, community outreach and public relations as well as the opportunity to create specific sub-marketing plans for new services.
FBCT currently operates three similar successful commuter service routes with annually growing ridership. It understands transit planning and operations, and has access to the necessary resources to implement this Project within the proposed timeframe. FBCT will procure the necessary new vehicles, and has experience doing so through its previous procurements of 50 similar vehicles since 2015.
FBCT is led by a dynamic and experienced team of transportation professionals with a proven record of accomplishment of success in overseeing similar Projects. Director Paulette Shelton brings over 25 years of experience in transportation management and operation; Kevin Thompson, FBCT’s new Operations Manager, has fifteen years in the transportation industry, with twelve of those years being in operations management serving greater Dallas- Ft. Worth area along with Austin-Bergstrom International Airport; Russell Gerami serves as the County's Public Transportation Operations Supervisor and has over 30 years of experience in transit operations; and Yvette Maldonado, the Finance & Administration Manager, boasts 13 years of experience in grants management of which nine years have been in public transportation.
Together, with the financial contributions and planning input from its partner, the Downtown District, FBCT is poised to operate a successful new commuter service.
View Uploaded File: FBCT - Additional Attachments.pdf
View Uploaded File: FBCT Downtown Service Maps.zip
View Uploaded File: project-budget-worksheet-template_bus purchase&service_FINAL.xlsx
View Uploaded File: FBCT TDC-Application_bus service.xlsx
View Uploaded File: BCA - Transit-Active-Transportation-Safety-Benefits-Template_DowntownBusService.xlsx
View Uploaded File: BCA - delay-benefits-template_DowntownBusService.xlsx
View Uploaded File: BCA - New-Transit-Vehicle-Purchase-Emissions-Benefits.xlsx
View Uploaded File: BCA Documentation - FBCT Downtown Service Plan.xlsx
View Uploaded File: BCA Documentation - TTI report & H-GAC data.pdf
BCA Methodology & Inputs
Inputs to the three BCA templates were drawn from the detailed service plan developed by TTI and the attached to the “Additional BCA Documentation” page. Transit ridership per trip inputs were derived from the same data, by dividing total forecast daily riders by the number of trips per day (113). Ridership beyond year 4, which is the final year of the TTI ridership forecast is derived by growing annual ridership at 5%. Given that Fort Bend County Transit has observed annual growth in ridership of 15% per year, a 5% annual growth rate in ridership is considered conservative. At year 10, ridership per trip is limited to 40 riders, due to the passenger capacity constraints of the transit vehicles that FBCT is proposing to purchase.
As shown on the service plan, the estimated number of new daily passengers in year 1 is 1,030.
2018 ADT figures (200,812) were drawn from the TxDOT traffic count database at the location on I-69 closest to the proposed Fort Bend Park and Ride. The data is available for review at the following web link: https://gis-txdot.opendata.arcgis.com/datasets/4480ddc1608a4ca1a6ca4da25f9fbf1b_0?geometry=-95.669%2C29.582%2C-95.597%2C29.595
Roadway capacity and volume figures for future years were provided by H-GAC. These figures and the email correspondence with H-GAC is provided in the “Additional BCA Documentation” page.
The results of the benefit-cost analysis, for each benefit category, and total, is presented on the following table.
BCA Category Benefits Results (2018$, ‘000s)
Safety Benefits: $13,000
Delay Benefits: $249,659
Emissions Benefits (NOx + VOC): $6,376
Total Benefits $269,035
901 - 1000
View Uploaded File: Vehicle Maintenance Strategies.pdf
Seamless Regional Transit from Fort Bend County to Downtown Houston - FINAL REPORT; Fort Bend County Transit Long Range Plan
View Uploaded File: Ridership Attachments.pdf
Houston-Galveston Area Council