The Fort Worth City Council were all aboard the transportation train last Tuesday night, as the discussed the subject during their work session.
City Manager David Cooke updated the City Council on transit funding during Tuesday’s work session. He said going forward might require changing how and where the city uses its sales tax funds.
That could include shifting some funds that currently are put into the Crime Control and Prevention District (CCPD) and applying the funds for transit. Those changes likely wouldn’t come about before 2020, when the public is asked to
The CCPD is expected to generate around $74 million this year based on the half-cent tax funding it receives. The sales tax revenue from the general fund is around $155 million. There is also a projected $77 million from the Fort Worth Transit Authority.
“Are we serious about freeing space for transit?” Cooke asked the Council.
“There are no real fast answers here,” Mayor Betsy Price said. “The entire region needs to think.”
District 2 Council Member Carlos Flores agreed with the mayor and said the project needs to be looked at from a regional point of view.
“Look at this through a regional lens, if you will,” he said, adding about the CCPD funding, “I would like to see a short list of what staff would consider (cutting).”
District 5 Council Member Gyna Bivens said, “We’re going to have to address the sacred cow of CCPD.”
She also added that she had returned from a meeting concerning DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) the day before, noting they were using the phrase “DARTable.” She stressed that any project should include the Trinity Metro, which this week rebranded itself after being known as the “T.”
“We need a marketing plan. I think we can collaborate, but not with the undertone of taking over,” she said.
Price said, “I don’t think anyone is considering taking over the T.”
There was a lighthearted air at times as council members consistently had a difficult time remembering to call Trinity Metro by its new name.
District 4 Council Member Cary Moon continued his hard stance on including the public in any decision.
“If we’re going to increase funding for public transportation, it needs to come before the public,” he said. “I do not want to take dollars from the police. If we take one, I want to give them back two.
“I do not want to fund transportation through the general fund. I want the public to vote,” he said.
Topping Cooke’s recommendations list is himself, Price and County Judge Glen Whitley determining potential partners as they move forward. Price noted that Tarrant County has 41 municipalities. However, only two currently join in to share the cost, Richland Hills and Blue Mound, with Fort Worth picking up 98 percent of the cost. And Richland Hills’ obligation is due to end in a few months, Cooke said.
“That’s a lot of people not participating now,” District 7 Council Member Dennis Shingleton said. “I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it’s a difficult challenge.”
Zadeh cited current daily average ridership on Trinity Metro as 28,000, including 8,000 on the Trinity Rail Express and 20,000 on buses. She and Price then expressed a desire for faster service.
“When it takes an hour and a half to get where you can drive in 20 minutes, you’ve got a problem,” Price said.
Along with approaching municipalities, Cooke’s other two recommendations were broadening opportunities for the business community to get involved, and making certain transit/mobile funding is part of the 2019 and/or 2020 fiscal year budget process, along with being a part of the decision making process for future sales tax referendums.