PORT ARANSAS, Texas — It's no secret that finding enough workers to staff restaurants, souvenir shops, and similar businesses in Port Aransas is a challenge these days.
"It’s very difficult," Chris Collins, the Director of Operations for My Fun Port A, said. "I would say staffing is probably the most — I spend the most time trying to keep our businesses staffed."
Tortuga's restaurant is one of those businesses.
Lots of servers were on duty there Tuesday, and some of them used the Port Aransas Express to get there.
"We have a lot more of our longer term employees choosing to ride the express to get to and from work," Collins said. "So I think it’s been a great thing for our community and the surrounding communities.”
The express picks up people in the communities of Corpus Christi, Ingleside, and Aransas Pass — where housing is more affordable — and drops them off in Port Aransas — where there's less affordable housing — for work.
The express also saves riders the inconvenience of waiting in line for the ferry, because the shuttle bus receives priority boarding.
And there are other uses for that Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority route.
Rita Patrick, the CCRTA Marketing Director, suggests taking it for a day trip to Port A.
“You can stop at any of your favorite restaurants or souvenir shops — at the beach — have a great day, and then come back at the end of the day," she said.
The transportation authority tested the Port Aransas Express over the past two summers and has now made it a permanent, seasonal route from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
That decision came after looking at the ridership numbers but also after listening to business owners like Collins.
"They came here, talked to our board, and encouraged us to continue this," Patrick said. "And they’re very happy with it, and so are we.”
A round trip on the Port Aransas Express costs less than three dollars, and Collins says that's a big reason some of his employees — both current and future — will take advantage of it.
"The transportation is very affordable which makes a big difference in the times we’re living in now with gas prices being as high as they are," he said.