As reported last spring, San Marcos, along with the city of Martindale in Caldwell County and the community of Redwood in Guadalupe County were declared an urbanized area (UZA) by the U.S. Census Department.
As the principal city of the new UZA, the City of San Marcos initiated Transportation Conference proceedings wherein the affected local governments, including elected officials from the cities of Martindale and San Marcos, and the counties of Caldwell, Hays and Guadalupe, convened in three public meetings to determine the best structure for delivering transit services under the new designation. In the three meetings, of which two were public hearings, the local officials and members of the public discussed and made comment about transit needs and options for the best governance and structure for the new District to be created to deliver transit services. On July 16, 2012 by unanimous vote the Conferees resolved to request that the City of San Marcos request that CARTS form a Rural/Urban Transit District to serve the UZA seamlessly with the rest of the CARTS District.
On August 21, 2012 the San Marcos City Council with Resolution No. 2012-99R resolved “(to support) Capital Area Rural Transportation System’s creation of a combined Urban-Rural Transit District…(and) confirming the City’s participation in the new combined urban-rural transit district for fiscal years 2012-2015….”
The census designation became effective with the 2013 federal fiscal year, which began October 1, 2012, leaving the City and CARTS little time to make the transition.
Fortunately, planners at the TxDOT Public Transportation Division thought ahead, and CARTS applied for and was granted Census Impact funding from the Texas Department of Transportation that would finance “rural” services until February 28, 2013. This will enable the City and CARTS to develop the necessary Interlocal Agreement to underpin our ongoing relationship, and to make a more deliberate transition to our new partnership and the increased federal responsibilities in the UZA.
A member of the San Marcos City Council will join the CARTS Board in March to represent the UZA, expanding the CARTS Board of Directors to ten.
First on the agenda for the new district will be extending connector service to Redwood and Martindale to integrate those communities into the existing fixed route system CARTS operates in San Marcos. Also CARTS will issue an RFP for a comprehensive transit plan for the new UZA, a project to be jointly managed by the City and CARTS to lay the groundwork for the development of a comprehensive transit system that integrates all mobility assets and modes seamlessly.
The extensive work conducted by the City of San Marcos and the affected public officials in a short time, and the deliberation and official action required to accomplish all this was daunting, but admirably they got it done. Our hat is off to them. We predict a bright future for transit in San Marcos and its newly urbanized environs.