TRANSIT EQUITY PRINCIPLES
The following principles were adopted by the Tarrant Transit Alliance Board of Directors on August 5, 2021.
Statement of Purpose
The Tarrant Transit Alliance (TTA) works with contributors, community officials, and regional leaders to build support for funding regional transit in Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Our purpose is to educate, empower and mobilize policy to serve our entire region.
TTA supports transportation planning and governmental efforts that improve the quality of life of all Tarrant County residents. The principles outlined in this document will guide us as we move towards a more equitable, more accessible community.
TTA’s board and executive leadership team identifies as: 23% African American, 17% Hispanic, 60% Caucasian, 34% Women, 3% who identify as “other,” and 63% Men. Our diverse team is committed to ensuring that equity-focused transportation policies and support are prioritized in Tarrant county to ensure access to economic, health, and educational opportunities.
Twenty-five percent (25%) of Tarrant County households fall within the ALICE threshold (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), and the average annual transportation cost for a Fort Worth resident is approximately $12,974/yr. Having a transportation system that maximizes access to dependable transit options is vital for supporting our citizens and our city’s economic vitality. Transit is necessarily inclusive, without barriers linked to race, income, age, or ability. Because transit is resource-efficient and supports low-emission neighborhoods, it is also an indispensable tool for preventing climate change, cleaning our air, and protecting public health.
TTA has formulated the following equity principles to ensure that our transportation systems do not perpetuate racial and income inequality, limit economic opportunity, hasten catastrophic climate change, or exacerbate chronic disease.
The Annie E Casey Foundation describes racial justice as ”the systematic fair treatment of people of all races that results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone. All people are able to achieve their full potential in life, regardless of race, ethnicity, or the community in which they live ...[this]... framework can move us from a reactive posture to a more powerful, proactive and even preventive approach.” (Annie E Casey Foundation, 2021)
According to the Department of Transportation, “Equitable and safe access to transportation is a civil right” (US DOT, 2021). On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (Equity E.O.). The Equity E.O. directs the Federal Government to “pursue a comprehensive approach to advance equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity to strengthen communities that have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” (Equity E.O., 2021)
In accordance with the Federal efforts being provided, the TTA Equity Principles will serve as the embodiment of the movement that is needed to enhance transit access for our most underserved and widely marginalized communities.
TARRANT COUNTY RESIDENTS NEED TRANSIT
Our single-occupancy-vehicle-dependent development patterns have historically and continuously reinforced long-standing social inequities. Tarrant County residents deserve the freedom to choose a multitude of transportation modes. Transportation investment must be centered around removing barriers and prioritizing the needs of people of the global majority, people with low incomes, and people with disabilities.
In the DFW Metroplex, the primary source of ozone-generating emissions comes from automobiles. To ensure the residents of Tarrant County have access to clean air and a sustainable future, some car trips must shift to a more environmentally friendly mode. Transit investment must expand access to good bus, train, high-speed rail, on-demand, and bike service so transit ridership increases as a share of total travel. An emphasis on electrification is encouraged and recommended, but shifting modes is the top priority.
Access to transit should never be contingent on one’s ability to pay. People who need to get to work, school, and medical appointments need to be able to do so.
FTA funding grants opportunities & partnerships to lessen the expense on commuters. Especially for low-income populations.
Potential State funding can also provide relief for the ever-growing costs of transit.
We want to ensure any fare increase is equitable and attainable.
Those who need reduced-fare opportunities need to KNOW about these opportunities. Communication and marketing should be a primary emphasis of agencies and governments.
It is important to look to the future and consider what the future of our region will be, but we shouldn’t wait to invest in needed accessibility measures. There is a need now. We need to meet the needs of today AND tomorrow.
Improved transit choices expand workers’ access to jobs, employers’ access to the workforce, customer access to businesses, and business access to a customer base.
Instead of focusing on transit agencies as a for-profit business, communities should look at modal return on investment (ROI) as a part of a whole, healthy municipal system. Improved transit access, in tandem with healthy urban density, is suitable for taxpayers and municipal budgets. Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is great for the economic health of our community, placemaking & access. In a study of The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Development Near DART Light-Rail Stations, researchers concluded that the studied TODs around DART’s light rail “... added billions in economic activity for the DFW economy, [and] will serve as a catalyst for future economic growth.” (Shattles and Ball 2020)
We want transit that accesses all areas of our city and is a good choice for anyone who might want to use it. This means that it is safe, reliable, easy to use, and clean - emphasizing customer service.
SAFE AND ACCESSIBLE.
Transit investment must go beyond capital investments & various modes.
There are many factors that limit access to transit, including dangerous streets and lack of basic infrastructure amenities like sidewalks, streetlights, crosswalks, and shelters/benches.
Transit riders and operators deserve to use a system that takes their safety and security seriously.
Outline of Policy Recommendations
(Relevant to Tarrant County transit agencies, city governments, county governments, and NCTCOG-ranged areas)
These policies are the primary focus of the Tarrant Transit Alliance. Policies we are supportive of at a local level are outlined below.
Ensure our Tarrant County based transit agencies and services (Trinity Metro, VIA, etc.) are utilizing our tax payer's dollars efficiently by providing transparent, cost-effective, and accountable services to our riders.
Develop strategic partnerships with Tarrant County cities and the NCTCOG to ensure policies are regionalized across the County.
Incorporate stronger transparency and public feedback mechanisms so communities affected by planning efforts are a part of the planning process.
Implement the plans that you pay for. Don’t let a million-dollar study sit on the shelf.
Redesign current transit networks so more people can reach more places in less time, prioritizing the travel needs of people of the global majority and low-income neighborhoods. Expand frequent service in response to changing residential and employment patterns.
Integrate fares, routes, and schedules between overlapping bus and rail services to create cohesive, easy-to-use regional transit networks that expand access for riders.
Strategically increase the amount of transit service in areas where it is needed, so many more people and jobs are within walking distance of bus or train routes that arrive frequently all day, every day.
Look for viable service options for areas that don't have high ridership but still need service.
Enable riders to bypass traffic congestion by implementing comprehensive bus prioritization techniques as needed such as bus-only lanes and signal prioritization on major routes.
Improve pedestrian and bicycle connections to transit stops and stations, and add shelters and other amenities at bus stops.
Add features to make existing and new transit infrastructure universally accessible, such as transit elevators and sidewalks.
Reform commuter rail operations and fares to make service useful and affordable to lower-income riders who the 9-to-5 suburban service model has excluded.
Implement safety policies that look beyond policing, such as station and stop cameras and operator de-escalation training, so all communities feel free from the threat of violence and harassment.
Structure fares to make transit affordable for everyone, including discounts or free passes for people with low incomes, seniors, students, and children. Ensure that these opportunities are effectively communicated to these communities.
Work with FWISD & other school districts to create school-based transit passes for students, parents, teachers, & faculty. Emphasize high schools, after-school programs, career & technology programs, internships, etc.
Increase the presence of transit riders, women, Black and brown people, people with disabilities, and other under-represented groups on agency governing boards.
Ensure public-funded ventures benefit the whole community & commit to the public instead of the bottom line.
Equally prioritize maintenance and utilitarian upgrades of existing transit infrastructure with aesthetically-driven projects or high-cost capital expansions.
When major capacity expansion projects are built, implement them in places with high concentrations of people and jobs, where the most people will benefit, not where the smallest number will object.
TTA is a local transit advocacy organization. We know that our region’s transit system and the future of expansion are affected by the decisions of our state government.
Policies we are supportive of/and would like to see employed at the Texas state level are outlined below.
Classify transit workers as essential workers, entitled to PPE, leave, and other necessary benefits.
Flex more federal funds to transit agencies instead of highways.
Ramp up investment in pedestrian safety along major transit routes on state roads.
Eliminate red tape for converting right-of-way on state roads to transit-only lanes.
Comprehensively analyze impacts of new transportation technologies on existing workers, including workers who may be deskilled, required to learn new skills, or entirely displaced. Look at how these technologies will be accessible to the workforce and people who need them.
Create more seats for transportation labor in new technology-related working groups.
Incorporate stronger transparency and public feedback mechanisms
TTA understands that the realities of our region’s transit system are also greatly affected by the decisions of our federal government.
Policies we are supportive of and would like to see employed at the federal level are outlined below.
Achieve funding parity between the highway program and the transit program.
Overhaul the Federal Highway Administration program to reduce carbon emissions, prioritize road maintenance over expansion, and induce state DOTs to improve pedestrian and bike connections to transit.
Significantly enlarge transit capital grant programs. Prioritize maintenance, retrofitting systems for accessibility, and upgrades and expansions that benefit the most riders.
Align incentives within all federal transit grant programs to reward agencies that increase overall ridership and improve service for everyone.
Create a program modeled on SNAP benefits to dramatically expand fare relief.
Identify causes of high transit construction costs and systematically promote practices to bring costs down.
Create a new standard for paratransit to achieve reliable, on-demand service for people with disabilities and people over 65.
Stronger transparency and public feedback mechanisms for federal rules regarding autonomous technologies, including mandatory plans for when and where the new product or service would be phased into operations and for formal procurement.
Annie E Casey Foundation. (2021, April 14). Equity vs. Equality and Other Racial Justice Definitions. AECF.org. Retrieved June 8, 2021, from https://www.aecf.org/blog/racial-justice-definitions
Center for Neighborhood Technology. (2017). H+T Fact Sheet : Tarrant County, TX. Housing and Transportation Index. Retrieved June 2021, 8, from https://htaindex.cnt.org/map/
Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. (2021, January 20). The White House. Retrieved July 6, 2021, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/20/executive-order-advancing-racial-equity-and-support-for-underserved-communities-through-the-federal-government/
Shattles, G., & Ball, M. A. (2020, July 23). DART Rail Generates $10.27 Billion Near Rail Stations. DART.org. Retrieved June 8, 2021, from https://www.dart.org/news/news.asp?ID=1520
Tarrant County Public Health. (n.d.). BE AIR AWARE. TarrantCounty.com. Retrieved June 8, 2021, from https://www.tarrantcounty.com/en/public-health/health-protection-and-response/environmental-health-promotion/air-quality.html
United for ALICE. (2018). Texas • 2018 County Profiles - Tarrant. ALICE Research Center - Texas. Retrieved June 8, 2021, from https://www.unitedforalice.org/county-profiles/texas
U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Request for Information on Transportation Data and Assessment Methods. (2021, June 1). US Department of Transportation. Retrieved July 6, 2021, from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/us-department-transportation-announces-request-information-transportation-data-and#:~:text=Equitable%20access%20to%20transportation%20is,pursue%20a%20comprehensive%20approach%20to