In Part II of our interview with Lumbreras, he talks about the city’s need to have a seamless public bus transit system and larger facilities for public city officials…
By Autumn Wright
After almost 36 years of experience as a city manager or asst. city manager (ACM), with the last 11 years in Austin as an ACM, Bert Lumbreras – a Texas State alumnus – has come back to San Marcos as city manager.
In Part II of our interview with Lumbreras, he talks about the city’s need to have a seamless public bus transit system and larger facilities for public city officials.
Lumbreras said San Marcos is a fast-growing city that needs a seamless public transit system that would benefit everyone in San Marcos and not be specifically for students or residents.
Additionally, Lumbreras would like to expand facilities like City Hall to make more room for the additional staff the city needs to hire. The staff in the public service departments are currently sporadic and having to lease portable office spaces for the additional staff.
Can you expand on the issues of the bus transit? I thought the Texas State bus service was for everyone; it doesn’t specify it’s for students only.
You are right, but I think if you look at the ridership, it’s predominantly all student. It’s not route specific; it’s mainly for shuttling to specific areas and bring them to the university and back.
When you have a seamless public transit system, it goes to all destinations that are important to any student or resident in the community. It has worked effectively in other communities where you have a university shuttle, but I think [Texas State] got the shuttle piece of it and we got the important city area pieces of it, so we’re like sharing the road.
But our public transit is very limited in terms of the service and the routes that they run. If we were to have a public transit that does not distinguish between destinations that would be important to a student or what would be important to just residents, it would be accessible to everyone.
Basically, just distinctive routes that gets students and residents where they need to go and essentially, operates very efficiently and correctly throughout the community.
Who are some of the partners you have that are helping with this project?
Texas State has come to the table and is willing to sit down and look at the specifics of what routes would be effective and beneficial for everyone.
We’ll be engaging with a consultant to discuss what are the right models and right structures in terms of how do we look out for the interest of the university and the students, but more importantly how do we look out for the interest of the city of San Marcos and our residents who need it.
You know, it doesn’t make sense on why we would focus on housing in the community but don’t offer different modes of transportation. We’re in a position right now that if we establish a good foundation on different modes of transportation, I firmly believe that not only will the students utilize it but the residents will as well.
I’m excited that we recently entered a bike share program with the university, we’re focusing on what other cities have done and we are hoping to get a bike share program in place that serves the residents and university and does not distinguish you know boundaries around that.
That’s why we’re looking at bringing the university involved to bring different modes of transportation, whether that be bike share, car share and bus service because that’s extremely critical for both of our futures.
What would you say is an issue with the public transit that the city has with CARTS?
Our public transit is very limited because yes, the university’s bus transit is open to everyone, but its system is mainly to areas that are mainly to and from the school; not necessarily are different areas that are important to all residents of San Marcos.
You know, there’s some of our major employers who hire new employees or they ramp up during certain times in the season. Some of their employers are struggling to get to the facilities, so we need a public transit system that understands those needs for our residents in a community that is growing so fast.
But we want to provide very basic transit options for everyone to get to the grocery store, the pharmacy, shopping centers, the university and as close as they can to their work and their homes.
And other communities have done it so there’s no reason why San Marcos and Texas State can’t do it. We have that contract we have with CARTS, but again it’s pretty limiting in terms of what they do, and I don’t think it’s utilized as effectively as it should, in terms of the ridership. And I think that’s why we all got to rethink that on terms of how we’re doing with that.
Can you expand on why government buildings, like City Hall, are in need or remodeling or expansion?
We have a lot of facilities that have been built many years ago, like city hall. As a growing city, we’re trying to meet the demands of the city by adding more staff and faculty to meet those needs.
We have staff in portable offices, and that’s not effective, it’s not the best costly management plan for saving our resources. We’re exploring different options to look at short-term options for staff who are spread out and don’t have space in their facilities.
When you don’t have a space, we tend to look at leasing options, but that puts our spaces at a higher cost.
What are some of the benefits of expanding government buildings and having a seamless transit system?
I think it will lay a good foundation for the city in the long term. You know again, we are growing rapidly so we need more public transportation options and bigger, more adequate facilities for the additional staff we must add every year to meet the needs of our community.
Our city is growing so everything us must grow as well, so that goes for departments like public waste management, parks and recreation, city management and many others.
Read Part I of our interview with San Marcos City Manager, Bert Lambreras HERE.