New Trinity Metro president sees opportunity in rapid growth of Fort Worth area
See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Megan Cardona here.
A big upside to Fort Worth area public transportation is it’s still taking shape, new Trinity Metro President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Andreski recently told the Star-Telegram.
“What’s different about our area here is that growth is happening now and we have a chance to shape the growth and make those connections to transit and to develop our transit system to support the growth,” Andreski said. “We have a lot to do and we’re just going to have to be super efficient with how we spend resources.”
He started his new job June 20.
Andreski, who has 23 years of public transportation experience, arrived in North Texas after working in Connecticut and New Jersey. He held positions at the New Jersey Transit Corporation from 1999 and 2015 and recently served as Bureau Chief for Public Transportation for the Connecticut Department of Transportation since 2015.
Last year the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex had over 7.7 million people, according to the United States Census Bureau, which is over double the statewide population of Connecticut. The Star-Telegram sat down with Andreski to hear his goals for Trinity Metro and public transit in the region. Here’s what he had to say.
Based on your initial impressions, how is North Texas different from previous metros you’ve worked in such as Connecticut and New Jersey? Well, we’ve got a great foundation already. We’ve got an extensive public transportation system. Our major destinations, especially with the introduction of TEXRail, there is a phenomenal opportunity to grow.
We’ve got a great bus network, but not everyone knows about us. What we found through market research is that brand-awareness among those that don’t use our service is very low, so there’s an opportunity to bring more people on to existing services.
Right now today, we have capacity. We have capacity on our trains, we have capacity on our buses. There’s an opportunity to introduce our services to new markets.
What are some of your short-term goals for Trinity Metro? Very short-term, it’s really about listening. Riding with customers, talking with our stakeholders, City Council, mayor, our other participating cities and even those that aren’t participating, just hearing what the needs are and expectations are for public transportation.
We have some work underway that we’re going to continue to advance. We have an extension of TEXRail to the medical district, we put out a request for proposals to redevelop our T&P Station and then introducing our first bus rapid transit line, working with [North Central Texas Council of Governments] along East Lancaster Avenue. We’re building a new Trinity Lakes Station, that will be opening next year.
Lots of projects in the works, so those will continue but then we’re going to be doing some thinking about big ideas for the future.
What are your long-term goals for Trinity Metro?
Where goes the City of Fort Worth, so goes Trinity [Metro] and vice-versa. We’re very closely, or should be closely, tied to the aspirations of the city.
Where is growth happening? Well, growth is happening in many places. So it’s not a question of growth, right, the growth is happening. The question for me and for our team here is, “How convenient, fast and efficient will it be to move around this area in five, ten or twenty years?” That’s an open question, I don’t think it’s a matter of the growth.
The question is, are we going to be crushed by growth or is it going to become difficult and challenging to get around in the future? And I think the answer needs to be it’s going to be easy to get around and how are we going to accomplish that.
There are lots of ways to serve new and existing markets, and we want to have the most efficient and effective way to do that. It doesn’t necessarily need to be bus or rail, there are lots of new ideas. Bus rapid transit is one idea which it’s kind of a combination of bus and rail. It has the benefits of rail on dedicated lanes but the flexibility of bus because you’re running bus rapid transit with vehicles with rubber tires, you don’t need to lay track.
When we look at Fort Worth and Tarrant County, and we compare ourselves to other regions — Nashville, Charlotte, other places in the country — we’re not keeping pace. We’re not keeping pace with investment in public transportation. That is a problem because talent is mobile. People are willing to pick up and move, and they will move where there is the quality of life and ease of mobility that they’re looking for.
We’re competing with not only Charlotte and Nashville, we’re competing with Austin and Houston and Dallas. Are we making it attractive to people from outside the area? It’s about serving the people who rely on our service everyday, but it’s also about attracting that new workforce.
What are some challenges you see in this area that are different or similar to previous markets you’ve worked in? I worked in mature public transportation systems with very slow population growth. The transit lines were well-established, the communities had grown up over time around the transit hubs.
What’s different about our area here is that growth is happening now and we have a chance to shape the growth and make those connections to transit and to develop our transit system to support the growth.
We have a lot to do and we’re just going to have to be super efficient with how we spend resources.
What’s something you would want to tell people who don’t use Trinity Metro services often?
If you haven’t tried our services, it’s really a lot of fun. I’ve ridden quite a bit of our services over the last three weeks. I’ve encountered so many fun people who were going out for a day, going to see a movie. There were a bunch of people that were just taking a ride to look out the window and take in the sights. TEXRail is phenomenal, it’s a really first-class service.
Come out and try the service. That’s going to be our theme for some time here to really try and reach new people.