FORT WORTH – The newly-formed Tarrant Transit Alliance (TTA), led by board member Jeff Davis of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA), met with concerned citizens on Monday, September 11, in preparation for City Council meeting the following evening. Their goal? To persuade the council to fund the transportation solutions proposed in the 2015 Master Plan for the FWTA–a plan called for by the city council itself. Council Member Ann Zadeh was on hand to voice her commitment for increased funding for the FWTA and to encourage support in advance of tomorrow night’s vote at City Hall.
“We are not even in the conversation,” Davis shared about the funding for transportation in Fort Worth compared to other major cities in Texas. In fact, there is not one cent in the upcoming city budget to implement the recommendations of the 2015 FWTA Master Plan (see video below when the Fort Worth Portrait Project covered the plan’s presentation to the community). “Dumbfounded” is how Davis described his reaction to the lack of funding. “We are so far behind the 8 ball…it’s not even funny.” Data provided by the TTA for the meeting showed that Fort Worth only spends $71 per capita on public transportation compared to other cities in Texas including San Antonio ($98), Houston ($118), Austin ($193), and Dallas ($255).
In short, the city is planning to decrease property taxes by 3 cents for every $100 valuation. Last year, the reduction was 2 cents. The TTA proposes channeling 1 cent of the proposed 3-cent decrease to the FWTA. This give the FWTA $5.6 million to be used potentially for expanding bus routes to the west and/or along 7th Street. (Put another way, the decrease for next year’s budget would remain at 2 cents, just like last year, and the 3rd-cent, instead of being a tax break, would go to fund transportation.)
Although the city council has talked about upgrading public transportation in Fort Worth, Davis admonished,
We don’t need to look and talk anymore. We need to do something.
More than just expanding bus routes and creating more jobs through the expansion of the FWTA, Davis sees the fight over funding as a fight for social equity. “We want to change the culture. And tomorrow is the first step.”