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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Dash – electric public transit bus service – begins in Fort Worth

The Dash, the first electric public transit bus in Tarrant County, started service on Sunday, Sept. 22.

It was a long road.

After receiving $25 million from U.S. Department of Transportation, the Fort Worth City Council stalled plans for a proposed inner-city streetcar line in 2010.

There were concerns over funding, area desirability and commuters’ demand. However, many still believed a vacuum existed in Fort Worth’s transit system.

“Our mission was to prove to our city leadership that there is pent-up demand for alternative transportation,” said Brandy O’Quinn, public affairs manager for the Fort Worth’s Blue Zones Project. “And we could possibly begin to change behaviors and get people to leave their cars behind.”

On the heels of the streetcar project failure, O’Quinn and other transit advocates began planning for a newer, more efficient transportation concept for the growing city about 6 years ago.

What formed as a result of that is The Dash, a modern, sleek-looking bus service.

“This is a shining example of how community activism can be a catalyst and be successful through collaboration,” O’Quinn said. “This was a community-driven project. We could not have done it without all our partners.”

In July 2017, the North Central Texas Council of Governments approved $2.8 million grant funding towards implementing the electric bus service. Additionally, a $1.72 million federal funding was also allocated to the project.

The City of Fort Worth’s Blue Zones Project, Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth and Visit Fort Worth also made a three-year financial commitment to running The Dash services.

On the private side – Kimbell Art Museum, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the UNT Health Science Center, Crockett Row, Sheraton Downtown Fort Worth, Museum Place, Fort Worth Stock Show and Dickies Arena all are contributing and are investors in the project.

“This service is the product of the way we do business in Fort Worth,” said former Fort Worth Mayor Ken Barr, who also worked on The Dash project. “We set aside the concern about who gets the credit and we work to get it done. That’s the hallmark of Fort Worth.”

Trinity Metro has purchased three electric buses for about $1.5 million from Minnesota-based New Flyer of America.

The Dash will provide commuters a zero-emissions, high-frequency option for daily trips to eight different popular destinations and connects downtown to the cultural district.

“Strong transit systems are an economic engine that’s built cities and helps us make our tax rates lower,” said Scott Mahaffey, Trinity Metro board chairman.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the most commonly used public transportation in America is the bus, and the number of public transit vehicles powered solely by electric battery has increased by 210% since 2010.

“We are experiencing paradigm shift where environmental, social and economic influences are shaping our new mobility reality,” said Rex Colorado, regional sales manager for New Flyer. “And commitments to mitigating climate change have become a primary focus, nation-wide.”

Compared to a regular bus, The Dash saves about $125,000 in maintenance costs and about $400,000 in energy costs in the next 12 years, according to New Flyer.

A single full charge can power The Dash to operate its route for a whole day. Trinity Metro has also purchased a charging station for the bus service.

“We recognize Fort Worth’s vision of being the most livable city in the country,” Colorado said, “and, [we] are thrilled to support the rapidly expanding community of Tarrant County by providing its resident with zero-emission transportation that is safe, reliable and efficient.”

Fares for The Dash services are complimentary through Oct. 31. Beginning Nov. 1, tickets will be $2 one way or $5 for a day pass, which includes all of Trinity Metro’s bus services, TEXRail and Trinity Railway Express to Centreport station.

The Dash will operate 9:22 a.m. to 10:44 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and from 9:22 a.m. to 12:44 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

“We have a circulator in downtown, we have a circulator now that serves the cultural district,” said Ann Zadeh, council member and District 9 representative. “We need to continue building a circulator system that connects all of our buses in our community and all of our trains to all of the important areas of our city, so that people have the ability to go around.”

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Neetish Basnet
Neetish is a writer and digital content producer for Fort Worth Business Press. He has been covering businesses of all shapes and sizes in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex for several years. After graduating with a journalism degree from University of Texas-Arlington, Dow Jones News Fund selected him for a digital media fellowship. He still likes the smell of a freshly printed newspaper.

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