Refunds to be given to those who applied for priority boarding
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials have not yet set a deadline for applying for priority boarding passes, but they're expected to offer refunds soon to people who have applied for the passes and submitted deposits.
The priority boarding idea would have let pass holders go to a special staging area at ferries in both Port Aransas and Galveston. Those staging areas would be loaded onto ferries first, until the ferries were half full, then “regular” vehicles would be allowed aboard.
Priority boarding was approved in February by the Texas Transportation Commission, and drivers were invited to apply for priority passes, including a $250 deposit for the first pass with the application. TxDOT district spokesperson Frances Garza said on Monday, Dec. 11, that only 160 applications had been received for Port Aransas passes and 181 applications for Galveston passes.
When it set up the system of applying for priority passes in February, the Transportation Commission said it would not gear up to issue any passes until at least 500 applications had been received from each ferry operation.
Garza said she believed TxDOT officials in Austin were drafting a letter to be sent to applicants telling them how to get the refund money returned if they were no longer interested in a priority boarding pass.
“I'd be surprised if that letter didn't go out before the end of the year,” Garza said.
State Rep. Gene Seaman, R-Corpus Christi, had asked TxDOT in September to set a cut-off date for applications to help city officials better plan for ferry issues.
However, as of Monday, TxDOT had not responded to that request.
City Manager Michael Kovacs said a closure date for priority boarding passes of Dec. 1 or Dec. 31 would be acceptable.
Money raised through sale of priority boarding passes would be used to build priority lanes on each side of the ferry route.