Transit service in Fort Worth received a boost Tuesday evening as the City Council authorized a plan for on-demand service in the Mercantile area in north Fort Worth.
The council signed off on an interlocal agreement in Districts 2 and 4 with the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (Trinity Metro) to fund a portion of the operational costs for the Mercantile Area Mobility On-Demand service in the amount of $500,000.
“This is very exciting to have this at council today,” said Chad Edwards, Fort Worth Mobility and Innovation Officer.
City officials and Trinity Metro have been working closely to identify opportunities for first-mile/last-mile connections to transit service. In December, the Trinity Metro Board of Directors approved a pilot on-demand rideshare service to address the issue. The January opening of the TEXRail Mercantile Station in North Fort Worth provided an opportunity to utilize this pilot service in the area.
Due to the sparsely dense area, it is difficult to establish high-performing, fixed-route bus services. However, officials say the on-demand service will provide access to the high number of jobs in the area through a connection to the TEXRail Mercantile Station.
This one-year pilot program will implement on-demand service and measure its effectiveness in an effort to expand the service after the pilot has expired. The city agreed to help fund the pilot service as a way to increase transit ridership and improve access to the available transit system.
The city previously appropriated $500,000 in anticipation of city support for the on-demand service pilot. Trinity Metro identified $500,000 from its fiscal year 2019 operating budget, and the board has authorized staff to negotiate and execute agreements to provide on-demand services for a year not to exceed $1 million.
Service, which has a July target start, will include five vehicles, including one being ADA accessible. The average wait time is estimated to be around eight minutes, and the cost to use the service will be $3 per trip.
Trinity Metro is also pursuing private funding that will add to the available funding that will allow a possible extension of the pilot service.
“It’s exciting,” Mayor Betsy Price said. “We’re looking forward to seeing it come out.”