When Texas State Technical College students, faculty and staff need to hop aboard the Valley Metro public transportation system to or from campus, all they have to do is show their student or employee ID, and they can ride free of charge.
TSTC Support Services coordinator Patty Flores said the program helps students who might otherwise have trouble getting to campus.
“We have the Valley Metro system in place for our students because there are a lot of students who need transportation assistance,” Flores said.
One of those students is Ruben Guitron, 21, a TSTC Aircraft Airframe and Aircraft Powerplant technologies student who is planning to graduate in May. He appreciates the convenience and cost savings that riding the bus affords him.
“It helps me get to school,” he said. “I live in Brownsville, so it’s a pretty long drive. My parents can’t always drive me.”
Flores said that most passengers use the bus stops on either side of Loop 499, one on the housing side and the other on the main campus side.
“Right now it makes 26 stops per day here on campus, Monday through Friday,” she said. “So it allows the students to be able to take a bus, get here, take their classes, and then take the bus back home or to a designated drop-off spot.”
Guitron said it takes discipline for him to rise and shine in time to ride the bus from Brownsville.
“You have to get up at 6 in the morning to catch the bus at 7:40 to catch your 8 o’clock class,” he said. “It takes an hour and 20 minutes to get (to TSTC) and back.”
Guitron said that several of his fellow classmates are not as motivated as he is to meet the early timetable.
“Some of them don’t want to get up at 6 in the morning,” he said. “It just depends if you’re dedicated enough.”
Tom Logan, director of regional transit for Valley Metro, noted that TSTC is an integral part of the area and that the bus service helps people for reasons other than simply attending class.
“Definitely there’s a connection between TSTC and all the major cities in the Rio Grande Valley, so it is to their convenience,” he said. “They can reach Brownsville; they can reach McAllen. So people from all over the valley can reach your campus there in Harlingen, not only for school, but they can also use the buses to take care of their own needs — shopping, employment and other recreational activities they might want to do.”
Logan said the buses seat about 30 passengers each.
Last year, Valley Metro donated a bus to the TSTC Workforce Training and Continuing Education program in Harlingen to help train professional bus drivers.
TSTC will have an open house on the Harlingen campus Thursday, March 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information or to register, visit https://www.tstc.edu/campuses/openhouse.
Photo cutline: Valley Metro makes regular stops at TSTC from Monday through Friday. (Photo: TSTC)