Fort Worth transit board sweep sends a strong message

Posted Monday, Feb. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The City Council has decided the performance of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority is unsatisfactory and its board must be replaced. The action could come as soon as today's 7 p.m. council meeting.

Six of the nine board members confirmed to Star-Telegram City Hall reporter Scott Nishimura on Friday that they are being swept out. Another decided months ago to leave, and the remaining two board members could not be reached immediately.

The sweep sends an unfortunate message about the departing board members. They have dedicated lengthy service to the authority, also known as the T. The implication that they somehow are not up to the task is not fair.

Eight board members are appointed by the council. The ninth is appointed by the Tarrant County Commissioners Court.

Mayor Betsy Price and council members Danny Scarth and Dennis Shingleton praised their previous appointees in a meeting with the Editorial Board Monday. But as for the board as a whole, the officials said, "the job's not getting done."

The three say progress has been too slow on TEX Rail, the commuter line from Fort Worth to the north entrance of DFW Airport, scheduled to open in 2016. Price urged the board a year ago to move faster.

The city leaders also said they doubt the current T board's ability to transform the organization from a bus company to one that includes other facets of public transportation, including a regional commuter rail network. They said the new board should include rail expertise in the T's management.

Buses are the T's largest segment. Average weekday bus and vanpool ridership is 28,500 people. The Trinity Railway Express rail line carries about 8,500. Projections for TEX Rail show initial daily ridership of 9,890 people.

Still, a strong regional commuter rail system is crucial. Federal money that is expected to pay up to half the cost of TEX Rail must be secured.

Replacing the board is a wrenching move. The council is sending the strongest message it can send that it wants change.

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