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Fort Worth mayor makes urban rail system a priority

May 2,2024


See full Fort Worth Report article by Sandra Sadek here.

Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker has announced the creation of a new committee to examine bringing a fixed rail system to the city. 

The Mayor’s Urban Rail Committee Supporting Economic Development & Tourism, launched with Trinity Metro, will explore the creation of a rail system between Fort Worth’s entertainment districts, as well as potential financial support and mechanisms for construction and operations. 

“It is about tourism and economic development. Absolutely,” Parker said. “But I think there's a huge element to also meeting the needs of the population that lives here, that enjoys those entertainment districts.”

The committee, formally announced May 2, will also look at legislative priorities and how different organizations can enhance possible economic development and tourism rail projects. Consultant Jay Chapa, a former deputy city manager now working to establish a downtown Fort Worth campus with the Texas A&M system, will chair the committee. 

Paul Paine, president of the nonprofit Fort Worth Stockyards, Inc. and one of the new committee’s members, described the committee as an “exploratory” team to research and determine what the city’s transportation needs are before committing to a potential rail system in the future. He said he’s joining the committee “with an open mind, without preconceived ideas or agendas,” other than his belief that a new transportation system could be a tool to help grow accessibility in Fort Worth. 

“I don’t want anybody to put us in a box prematurely,” Paine said. “There’s a lot for all of us to learn about where Fort Worth is today, what our needs are and how we can help people. This is bigger than just transportation — transportation becomes a tool in helping people afford to live in our city.” 

Who is on the committee?

The committee includes members in the business, tourism and transportation industries. 

  • Robert Allen
  • Kenneth Barr
  • Mike Brennan
  • Craig Cavileer
  • Jay Chapa (Chair)
  • Charles Edmonds
  • Nick Genua
  • Michelle Green-Ford
  • Jarred Howard
  • Bob Jameson
  • Kayla Kelly
  • Anette Landeros
  • Russell Laughlin
  • Steve Montgomery
  • Paxton Motheral
  • Rachel Navejar
  • Paul Paine
  • Andy Taft
  • Scott Wilcox
  • Moody Younger
  • Ann Zadeh

Committee meetings will start this summer and continue through the end of 2024. The city and Trinity Metro will split the costs for consultants and research necessary to support the committee’s efforts. 

The goal is to have a list of priority projects by the end of the year, Parker said. 

“If we don’t have alignment on what our goals and priorities are, we’re never going to get some of these big projects funded,” Parker said. 

The announcement of the committee comes as officials revamp the local transportation system. Trinity Metro recently announced that it is looking at discontinuing its electric bus route, The Dash, citing a future rebranding of key routes to entertainment districts. In April 2023, Trinity Metro commissioned a study to again look at a potential streetcar loop through downtown.

The streetcar study will be brought under the committee’s purview. The committee will decide whether their preferred fixed rail system is a streetcar or another mode of transportation, Parker said. 

Trinity Metro’s system changes are being done in parallel with the committee’s efforts and won’t be hindered, she added.  

Fort Worth officials and Trinity Metro are also working on developing a public transportation system to connect the future Panther Island to the rest of downtown and the Stockyards. 

“Trinity Metro is always striving to think ahead for what Fort Worth’s transit needs will be into the future,” Trinity Metro CEO Rich Andreski said in a statement. “We are glad to continue our collaborative work on this effort with (the) city of Fort Worth, this time with a focus on exploring solutions that support the dynamic economic development and tourism needs of a rapidly growing Tarrant County.”

U.S. census data showed Fort Worth was the fastest-growing city in 2022, adding more residents than any other city in the country. 

Editor's note: Rachel Navejar is a Fort Worth Report board member. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

Editor's note: This story was updated to include additional comments from committee member Paul Paine.

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at sandra.sadek@fortworthreport.org or @ssadek19.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.


Location Mentioned: Texas A&M Fort Worth