DRAFT Support for the FY21 budget requests for Trinity Metro

DRAFT Support for the FY21 budget requests for Trinity Metro

Re: Support for the FY21 budget requests for Trinity Metro

July 21, 2020

Hon. Betsy Price
Mayor, City of Fort Worth
Hon. Carlos Flores
Councilmember, City of Fort Worth District 2
Hon. Brian Byrd
Councilmember, City of Fort Worth District 3
Hon. Cary Moon
Councilmember, City of Fort Worth District 4
Hon. Gyna Bivens
Councilmember, City of Fort Worth District 5
Hon. Jungus Jordan
Councilmember, City of Fort Worth District 6
Hon. Dennis Shingleton
Councilmember, City of Fort Worth District 7
Hon. Kelly Allen Gray
Councilmember, City of Fort Worth District 8
Hon. Ann Zadeh
Councilmember, City of Fort Worth District 9
Mr. David Cooke
City Manager, City of Fort Worth
Fort Worth City Hall 
200 Texas St.
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Dear Mayor Price, Councilmember Flores, Councilmember Byrd, Councilmember Moon, Councilmember Bivens, Councilmember Jordan, Councilmember Shingleton, Councilmember Allen Gray, Councilmember Zadeh, and Mr. Cooke.
We are writing to respectfully request that you support and fully fund Trinity Metro's $9,970,605 budget request for FY2021. We truly applaud the City's leadership in implementing the Transit Moves Fort Worth plan and were encouraged when the City put forward an additional $1.3 million in the FY2020 budget. We also understand the COVID-19 pandemic has made the budgeting process incredibly difficult this year and presents you with very difficult decisions to make on behalf of all our citizens. If the last few months have taught us anything, it's that transit is an essential service. Transit gets our essential employees to work; transit creates equity for all; and transit creates otherwise unfulfilled opportunities for education, access to good-paying jobs, and to experience all of the assets in our community. Our organizations support the prudent and responsible budget request that Trinity Metro has put forth, for reasons we will outline below.
Throughout this historic crisis, public transportation has remained available to our citizens - enabling health care providers, first responders, grocery store clerks, pharmacy workers, and other essential personnel to get to their jobs and serve our communities. Public transit also continues to provide mobility for Fort Worth citizens who have no other transportation option. In fact, since March of 2020, Trinity Metro provided 34,783 trips to the Medical District through their regular bus service, 38,697 medical and grocery trips via their ACCESS paratransit service, and 1,674 visits to employment areas in the Mercantile area via their ZipZones service.
There are 20% of Fort Worth residents who earn less than $25,000 a year(1). These residents are nearly two times as likely to take transit(2), especially when you consider the average annual transportation costs for a Fort Worth Resident are approximately $12,885(3). Additionally, when you combine the cost of housing with the cost of transportation, it is more expensive to live in Fort Worth, Texas than to live in NYC(3). When these financial realities are considered, economically, Fort Worth citizens are only slightly better off than those who live in San Francisco(3).
As unemployment across the country continues to rise, Fort Worth citizens will have to make difficult decisions for their families on how to best keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. Transit is a fiscally responsible way to ensure that our citizens can access work, food, medical care, and other basic needs that many of may take for granted. Transit connects more unemployed people to new job opportunities and investment in public transportation also creates and sustains jobs, all of which are urgently needed to propel our community towards economic recovery.
Through your leadership, our City has been able to hold difficult and much-needed conversations around social equity. Investing in public transit is also an investment in racial justice because it is essential to the economic well-being of communities of color. In Fort Worth, Black residents are 3.4 times more likely to use transit(2), and across the U.S., 60% of transit riders are people of color(4).  Yet, the City's investment in transportation has consistently neglected public transit. It is also important to point out the role our transit system plays to the disabled community, who make up roughly 10% of the Tarrant County population(5). Now is the time to change this dynamic to ensure a more inclusive community where everyone has access to the vital services they so desperately need. Included in this letter is a break-down of how some of these investments affect the citizens of Fort Worth to improve the equity of Trinity Metro’s service. 
Beyond economic recovery, transit projects such as the items proposed have considerable economic development potential. In 2015, DART and UNT conducted a study on the economic impacts of Victory Station and determined that the $150 million project produced over $277 million in economic returns, including 1,688 jobs that created $105 million in wages(6). We believe these are the sorts of investments we need to be making for our City's future. But these sorts of economic returns require brave leadership and smart investment.
Luckily, these financial decisions are not solely the responsibility of our City. Trinity Metro has already received CARES Act funding, but 40% of this has already been used in the past 2 months to maintain the system as ridership declined with the stay-at-home orders, and costs were incurred to protect the health and safety of riders and operators. Trinity Metro has also been working with the City of Fort Worth and NCTCOG to secure federal infrastructure investments that will connect TEXRail to the medical district and will bring the first bus rapid transit project in North Texas to the Lancaster corridor. These are certainly big-impact projects, although they, unfortunately, do not serve our entire community. We implore the City to partner with Trinity Metro to ensure that our transit provider is able to provide excellent service to as many people as possible.
For these reasons, we urge you to fully fund Trinity Metro's $9,970,605 budget request for FY2021.
 We look forward to working with you as you shape our City's future.


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