North Texas Mass Transit Plan Unveiled

No sales taxes planned for expanded rail service.

Former opponents united with supporters of a North Texas Rail Transit expansion plan Monday with sales taxes removed from the list of funding sources.

The plan is contained in a new bill for Texas Lawmakers that was unveiled at DFW Airport and filed in Austin Monday.

A similar North Texas rail expansion plan failed in the legislature two years ago over strong business opposition to sale tax expansion.

Texas Instruments was one of several companies that lobbied against it in 2007. "Our position has always been that mobility improvements, transportation improvements, should be funded by sources that are tied to transportation," said Texas Instruments community affairs director Gray Mayes.

Dallas, Fort Worth and other cities currently receiving transit service help pay for it with sales taxes. But some cities that wish to add service use their sale tax revenues for other purposes like police or economic development. The new plan calls for offering those areas a list of choices to be decided in local elections.

The funding options include fees on out of state vehicles registering in Texas, renewals on existing vehicle registration, a driver fee on license renewals parking fees and a local gas tax.

"The bill will let the voters decide what kind of transportation system they want and how much they're willing to pay for it," said Texas state Sen. John Carona of Dallas, the lead senate sponsor. Carona was surrounded by elected officials from several North Texas cities and counties at DFW Airport when the bill was announced.

Arlington, with no public transportation and a new Dallas Cowboys football stadium is a prime candidate for transit expansion. "This is an emergency for us, and we certainly are on board with it," said Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck.

But some citizens are not as pleased about the idea of fee increases. "Expanding it is great," said Jahari Cady who rides DART trains daily. "But we're already going through a recession now and a lot of people are really having it hard."

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