Honkin' Mad

Want to ride TEXRail but your workplace isn’t near a train station? This might help

Now, more people can take TEXRail to work, even if their workplace isn’t near a train station.

Fort Worth’s transit agency, Trinity Metro, has launched a new service known as Zip Zone. Riders who take the TEXRail commuter line to Mercantile Center Station can now get a lift on the shared ride service for as little as $1, to get from the train station to their workplace.

It’s part of an overall strategy to help transit users close the gap between their place of employment and the nearest bus or train stop. It’s a distance known in the public transportation industry as the “last mile.”

Zip Zone is operated by Via Transportation Inc., a privately-held company based in New York. Via also operates shared-ride services in Arlington and Austin.

The Fort Worth service launched Monday. It operates in the city’s Mercantile Center area, which includes about 4 million square feet of office park, industrial, manufacturing and distribution companies in the southeast quadrant of Interstate 35W and Northeast Loop 820.

“We are proud to work with the city of Fort Worth while we look at innovative ways to solve the first mile-last mile challenges in our area,” Wayne Gensler, Trinity Metro vice president and chief operating officer for bus and paratransit, wrote in an email.

To use Zip Zone, customers must first download a smartphone application, which can then be used to hail a shuttle. The app will show users where to meet the shuttle. The rendezvous typically requires users to walk no more than a couple of blocks, officials said.

Via uses a fleet of Mercedes Benz vans provided by Avis Budget Group.

Zip Zone will run 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, officials said.

For now, the service is free to encourage transit riders to try it. In the coming weeks, users will be charged fares of $1 to $3, depending upon their destination.

In May, the Fort Worth City Council committed $500,000 to help offset Trinity Metro’s cost of launching Zip Zone.

Gordon Dickson joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997. He is passionate about hard news reporting, and his beats include transportation, growth, urban planning, aviation, real estate, jobs, business trends. He is originally from El Paso, and loves food, soccer and long drives.