Woodlands finalizes new bus service to Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Rodeo and livestock afficianados in The Woodlands will now be able to get to the popular Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo a bit easier this year after township officials approved a new, pilot program to shuttle rodeo and country music fans from the township to NRG Stadium on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Woodlands Township Board of Directors unanimously approved the special bus service from the township to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo during their Wednesday, Jan. 16, meeting.
Nick Wolda, a spokesperson for the township, said the bus service is officially a go after officials with First Class Tours, which is the provider of service for The Woodlands Express, were able to secure a safe and approved drop-off point for the buses at NRG Stadium.
“I think this is a great opportunity for our residents to not have to drive (their own vehicles) into Houston and be able to experience the greatest livestock show and rodeo in the world,” Wolda said if the pilot service. “We think it is something our community needed and we hope it will succeed. It allows residents to avoid traffic, the hassles of parking and lets them leave the driving to the shuttle service.”
During Wednesday’s township board meeting, Ruthanne Haut — deputy director of Community Services for The Woodlands — unveiled the prelimary details of the proposal, which would see nine buses take passengers from the Sterling Ridge park and ride lot to a still-unknown location at the Livestock Show and Rodeo. The buses will likely drop off riders in one of two areas, either the existing tour bus lot or another area where other shuttles and public transportation drop passengers off.
The proposal listed several departure times from The Woodlands on weekend days, beginning at 9 a.m. each weekend day with the last departure from The Woodlands at 7:15 p.m. The return buses are scheduled to leave the event periodically throughout Saturdays and Sundays, with the last one departing NRG Stadium to return to The Woodlands at 11:15 p.m. each night.
The service will only be offered on specific weekends, Wolda added, including March 2-3; March 9-10; and March 16-17. Riders will need to pre-reserve seats on the buses through an online ticketing portal, he noted, but that site has yet to be developed and should be online within the next week or so.
Township board Member Bruce Rieser, as well as fellow director John Anthony Brown, have been supportive of the proposal since it was first put forth by former township transit program manager Chris LaRue last fall. The Livestock Show and Rodeo was one of several special events put forth by LaRue in prior presentations as possible options for enhanced bus service outside the normal weekday commuting routes to downtown areas.
“I think this is a great opportunity to see if it works,’ Rieser said of the pilot program.
Brown agreed, telling board members and attendees, “I think these buses are going to be successful.”
Under the plan, there would be nine buses per weekend day during the event, which is scheduled for Feb. 25 - March 17 this year. The event’s hours are 8 a.m. to midnight daily, with livestock show judging, food courts, concerts and of course, the rodeo. The township set the $25 round-trip ticket cost, which would allow the service to break even if an average of 23 riders per bus utilized the special service each weekend day.