As a result of the 2010 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau included the portion of The Woodlands Township located in Montgomery County in a newly created Conroe-The Woodlands large urbanized area (UZA). The new urbanized area also includes the City of Conroe as well as nearby incorporated and unincorporated areas in Montgomery County with a current population over 240,000. The UZA designation is important because it impacts Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant funding administration for public transit and provides a framework to determine what entity will provide public transit in the UZA.
The Woodlands Township and the City of Conroe entered into an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) for administration of public transit in the Conroe – The Woodlands UZA. The Township assumed responsible for public transit in the southern part of the UZA (generally south of the San Jacinto River) and the City of Conroe is responsible for the northern portion of the UZA. Montgomery County and the other municipalities that lie in the UZA supported the decision to name the Township and City of Conroe as Designated Recipients for federal and state grant funds and the administration of those funds to provide public transit in the UZA. Beginning in October 2012, federal and state grant funding for public transit was apportioned to the Township and City in accord with provisions of the ILA to address transit funding needs in the UZA.
As a Designated Recipient, the Township has fiscal responsibility for funding public transit services provided in the Township. The Township determines and oversees all publicly funded transit operations. Federal and state grants provide the Township with funding support for the Woodlands Express Park & Ride operation, the Waterway Trolley service and the Waterway Cruisers. In addition, FTA funds are used for Demand and Response transit service for the elderly and handicapped throughout the entire UZA in agreement with the City of Conroe.
The Township has an agreement for continued oversight, operation and maintenance of the Woodlands Express Park & Ride, Waterway Trolley and Waterway Cruiser operations with the Brazos Transit District (District). The District owns the Park and Ride facilities, but contracts with a third party provider, under a turn-key arrangement, for the Woodlands Express service. The District owns, operates and maintains the Waterway Trolleys and provides service under a contract with the Township. The Water Cruisers are owned by the Township, but operated and maintained by the District under a contract with the Woodlands Convention and Visitors Bureau. The District owns the Waterway maintenance facility where the Cruisers are moored.
Prior to formation of the Conroe- The Woodlands urbanized area, the Brazos Transit District was solely responsible for provision of public transit in the Township and received direct FTA federal and state funding to provide the service. After formation of the UZA, the District no longer receives direct FTA funding for transit in the Township.