June 24, 2020
I am a constituent who lives at _______________. Today, I am writing to encourage your support of public transportation as we move towards economic recovery. Even as far fewer people are riding, transit has remained a public good that is essential to sustaining and reviving our regional economy. I hope that by emphasizing the facts around the safety, essential nature, and economic impact around transit that you will consider how you might use this tool to set our community up for success.
Transit is safe.
Trinity Metro, like all public transit systems, has seen revenues fall as ridership has declined with stay-at-home orders and as new costs to protect the health and safety or riders and employees have been incurred.
These protection measures have included increased cleaning frequency, reduction of seating capacity by 65% on buses and similarly on trains, adding additional buses to routes with higher ridership at peak times, the installation of barriers between the operator and the farebox on buses, and providing PPE to those who work closely with customers, and temperature screening of all employees at the Lancaster Trinity Metro base. Additionally, The Trinity Metro bus fleet has some of the best air filtration systems in the country, using the Sanuvaire UV germicidal system on older models and Climate Comfort Technologies (a state-of-the-art ionization filtration system) on the newer models that removes virus and bacteria particles, including the COVID-19 virus.
Transit is an essential service.
Throughout this historic crisis, public transportation has remained available to our citizens - enabling healthcare providers, first responders, grocery store clerks, pharmacy workers, and other essential workers to get to their jobs and serve our communities. Public transit also continues to provide mobility for Americans who have no other transportation option. In fact, in March of 2020, Trinity Metro provided 7,770 trips to the Medical District through their regular bus service, 13,115 Medical and grocery trips via their ACCESS paratransit service, and 909 visits to employment areas in the Mercantile area via their ZipZones service.
Our economic and social recovery relies on everyone reaching jobs and necessities & we won't be able to build a sustainable economic recovery without helping everyone get back on their feet - including those who do not regularly use a car to get around.
Transit is a job creator.
Transit connects more unemployed people to new job opportunities, Investment in public transportation also creates and sustains jobs, all of which are urgently needed to drive our
community towards economic recovery. While these are unprecedented times, we are lucky to have past lessons to look back to help guide civic leaders in how to guide us through the economic recovery best. A prime example is the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), which provided funding to states for surface transportation capital projects (c. $26bil) and public transportation capital projects (c. $8.4bil) & was enacted with the specific purpose of creating jobs.
As of June 24, infrastructure spending will likely be included in the next coronavirus relief bill. Infrastructure funding seems to be a uniting factor for both parties. With this in mind, it is clear that we as a community need to be prepared with projects that are ready to receive these federal dollars once they become available, but which projects should we as a community emphasize?
If getting our region back to work is our priority, the lesson from the 2009 ARRA is clear - to create the maximum number of jobs as fast as possible, we should invest in transit expansion and improvement projects. In fact, According to a Smart Growth America report - ARRA funding spent on public transportation produced 70% more job-hours than highway projects, and transit funding was spent about 1.5x faster than highway funding. At ten months after signature, ARRA investments in public transportation produced almost twice as many jobs per dollar as investments in roads!
Transit is our Opportunity
We are in a unique position to get Fort Worth back to work. Since the winter of 2017, the City of Fort Worth has partnered with Trinity Metro and consultant group Nelson & Nygaard to produce the Transit Moves Fort Worth plan. Our community has been waiting for significant transit funding for years now, and we have hoped that the TMFW plan's findings would push our city to begin investing in Fort Worth's future.
Work has already begun on a total bus system redesign and a proposed Lancaster Bus Rapid Transit corridor. These projects, along with the other improvements recommended by this plan, will help secure our city's economic vitality by creating new jobs and improved accessibility to jobs. I urge you to take a moment to read the recommendations around the Transit Moves Fort Worth plan, read the proposed budget for Trinity Metro’s system redesign, and consider what sort of city you would like Fort Worth to be in the future. I encourage you to accept the full $9,970,605 budget requested by Trinity Metro and to support the full Transit Moves Fort Worth plan moving forward. These proposals are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give our community the access it deserves.
Thank you for your focus on recovery - and your attention to public transportation. Please let me know what actions you take on this matter.