Odessans wanting to go shopping in Midland or Midlanders wanting to attend college in Odessa soon will be able to let EZ-Rider to the driving for them.
The Midland-Odessa bus service announced Monday that starting Sept. 1, it will take people between the two cities, with designated “Park and Rides” at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and Music City Mall in Odessa, and Midland Park Mall in the Tall City. The “EZ-Express” program will make three round-trips in the morning, one at midday and three more in the afternoon, according a news release.
The fare cost will be $2, which is comparable to the All-Day Passes that already exist.
The final schedule and fare structure will be established Aug. 17 at the next Midland-Odessa Urban Transit District Board meeting.
Ridership has been on the increase this year in Midland, with 9.3 percent more fixed route rides being taken through June of this fiscal year than were taken during the same period in fiscal year 2010, according to the most recent statistics provided by EZ Rider.
In Odessa, ridership has decreased slightly, with 0.48 percent fewer rides being taken through June of this fiscal year than during the same period of the previous fiscal year.
EZ Rider stated in a news release that the service was made possible by a deal with private contractor All-Aboard America. The Texas Department of Transportation will oversee the $1.6 million grant, which includes both federal and state funds.
Midland City Councilman and MOUTD board member Michael Trost said the grant will cover operating costs for the route’s first three years.
The intercity service had been long discussed, and in August 2009 was estimated to cost about $360,000 annually.
The Midland Reporter-Telegram contributed to this article.