Rail service from southwest Fort Worth to northeast Tarrant County is still a few years away, but transportation officials are already looking down the track at a possible expansion.
The T will hold a second public meeting Monday night about a possible commuter rail line from the southeast part of town into downtown.
“The general area of southeast Fort Worth is our highest transit ridership, so there is a warranted need for rail service or some sort of high-capacity solution to southeast Fort Worth," said Curvie Hawkins, director of planning for The T.
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The T’s future plans are still in the very early stages of development; Hawkins calls it "a vision" at this point. The first thing officials have to do is determine whether residents who currently take advantage of bus service will board a train to get to their destination.
“Passenger rail service is an expensive solution, and if the community does not desire it, there’s no reason to go further with the study,” Hawkins said.
Officials still will look for a high-capacity transportation service for the area, but if the community isn’t in favor of the train, The T may look at more and bigger buses. The T has several 64-foot buses set to be put into use later this year as part of an enhanced bus corridor service, mainly along East Lancaster Avenue.
High-capacity buses are a cheaper and quicker alternative than rail service. Adding a southeast line could take decades because The T would have to acquire the right of way to add tracks.
The T presently doesn’t have any funding for such a project, but would work to find it if the community ultimately wants to ride the rails.
“And it's our job to just look at possibilities, present those to the community and hopefully get a community endorsement as to the solution,” Hawkins said.
While the process has yet to leave the station, it is being considered a priority by The T’s board and is apart of the regional transportation plan.
Surveys have been sent out into the community in addition to the public meetings, a third such meeting will be held later this spring.