By Daniela Rodriguez, Student Contributor
As a student of Texas A&M International University, I am very proud to be part of a great community within a great city. I live near Merida Avenue, which is only a 15 minute car ride to TAMIU. However, when I ride the bus, travelling takes more than two hours. Besides myself, many other students struggle with the same situation. Throughout the eight months I have been riding the bus, I have realized the city needs to expand their routes and schedules, add the number of the route to every post, and add a map to every bus stop.
It is necessary that the proper authorities realize Laredo is growing rapidly, and that they should expand their routes to accommodate this growth. For example, according to El Metro Transit website, there are 22 bus routes covering the Laredo area, but none of them take you to newly-opened Alamo Draft House on East Point Drive, which is located in a rapidly booming and northernmost area of town. Similarly, bus services for the southern area of Laredo must be expanded as well. Like its northern counterpart, it is also growing at a substantial rate. Unfortunately, only three routes cover this area: Route 14 (Santa Rita), Route 19 (Santo Niño) and Route 20 (Los Angeles). The average wait time for an individual taking these routes ranges from 70-90 minutes.
Regarding the schedules of El Metro Transit, they must be expanded to adapt to Laredo’s growth. Personally, I need to take two different buses in order to get home. The first one is Route 16, which covers the TAMIU area, and it takes me downtown to the transit center where I must take Route 19 to get home. Route 19 only has one bus which takes more than an hour to complete its crossing. This means that if Route 16 is delayed, I must wait downtown for an hour to wait for the next Route 19 bus. Also, I have noticed that some routes end too early, which causes problems for workers who leave work late at night and to students who cannot enroll in night classes or have to leave during class to take the last bus.
Finally, I must mention the lack of maps at bus stops. A few months ago at a bus stop, I ran into a woman who was visiting Laredo. She asked me which route we were on. That made me realize the lack of maps and route numbers at all bus stops. It is difficult to get to know a city when there is no transportation capable of giving access to all areas of the city to its citizens and visitors. The first time I rode the bus, I had no idea where it would take me. If I had not been able to check the route schedule on my phone, I do not know what could have happened.
I encourage El Metro Transit to observe and improve these problems mentioned above. The people of Laredo deserve a better bus system. Laredo is the largest international port in the country, and many workers from Mexico use the bus to travel to and from work. Ensuring a better public transportation for not only students, but transnational workers as well, ensures a stronger economic future for our city.
I know that I am not the only person dealing with this problem. I hope when the authorities read this, they see what can be improved and work towards building a better Laredo.