Free use of El Metro transit on Sundays for Nat’l Dump the Pump Day

Along with Juneteenth, the 17th annual National Pump Down Day will also take place on Sunday, June 19, as it marks as a day that encourages people to take public transportation to save money, help protect the environment , reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and improve the quality of life for all Americans.

According to El Metro, Sunday will see Free Ride Day where passengers can take a free ride throughout Laredo. This will allow residents new and old to use the service and perhaps find alternative routes and/or review a route for future use.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, for every dollar invested in public transportation, $4 is generated in economic return. It can also help reduce individual costs, as gas prices have topped $4 a gallon throughout Laredo, which can make every road trip a costly decision.

El Metro said people who take public transit can save, on average, more than $10,000 a year based on current gas prices and the cost of owning a car. They also proudly touted safe travel during the June 6 city council meeting.

During the meeting, El Metro Transit bus operators Rene Valdez, Juan Hernandez and Mario Medellin were recognized and rewarded for driving 200,000 miles with zero preventable accidents, zero reported injuries and zero wrongful absences.

Gasoline prices in the United States just hit $5 a gallon for the first time on June 11, largely due to the pandemic pick-up and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This has been a major driver of inflation, which has reached its highest rate in nearly 40 years.

“El Metro Transit is committed to providing safe, reliable, courteous, accessible and friendly service to its customers,” its policy reads. “To ensure equality and fairness, El Metro is committed to making reasonable modifications to its policies, practices and procedures to avoid discrimination and to ensure that programs and services are accessible to people with disabilities.”

More than 47 fixed-route buses, one trolley and 15 “El Lift” vans are available daily. El Metro also boasts 187 employees.

In addition to public transit, continued efforts toward bike lanes were made in May 2022 during National Bike Month, with updates from the Laredo Municipal Planning Organization. Laredo/Webb MPO planner Jason Hinojosa said the city received a grant to help facilitate increased connectivity between bike lanes and the ultimate goal would be to have an interconnected bike lane that runs through Laredo.

According to Hinojosa in May 2022, bike boarding via transit service has been heavily used in the Santa Maria, Mines Road, Convent, and San Bernardo/Calton areas — with thousands of registered boarders from 2015 to 2019. For example, Santa Maria recorded the highest number of cyclists with 2,030, followed by Mines Road with 1,513.

By comparison, ridership demand data saw the number of Santa Maria hit 326,641 boardings, the San Bernardo/Social Security route with 198,046 boardings and the Convent route 184,769 boardings. The data was collected to demonstrate that an interconnected network and route improvements are necessary quality of life improvements.

“We tried to add that as an integrated network where you can leave a bike lane, get on a bus or vice versa, and provide those last mile solutions to the community,” he said.

Christy J. Olson