The Tarrant County Republican Party recently passed a resolution calling for local, county, state, and federal officials to publicly support roads over rail. Citizens seek an immediate end to subsidizes for the controversial Tex Rail project that plans to connect Fort Worth to the DFW Airport.
Officials at the “T” responsible for the proposed $900 million Tex Rail boondoggle admit the project will require hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to operate and will not ease road traffic congestion, according to their own estimates. The subsidies for the line are expected to continue into perpetuity.
[side_text]In the midst of TxDOT’s rampant waste, broken process and claims that billions more are needed for roadway projects, why are local officials wasting billions of dollars on non-road projects that very few citizens use?[/side_text]In fact, studies suggest that expanding passenger rail could make local traffic worse along the new line by blocking traffic with additional stops, resulting in negative environmental impacts in addition to billions in wasted tax dollars.
It’s a lose-lose-lose proposal.
Half of the project’s approved funding will come from cities, Tarrant County, and the state, with the other half paid for with federal funds. In the midst of TxDOT’s rampant waste, broken process, and claims that billions more are needed for roadway expansion and maintenance, why are local officials wasting billions in road funds on non-road projects that very few citizens use?
The latest numbers show that the “T”, which includes the Trinity Railway Express (TRE), operates at an abysmal loss of $67 million dollars, requiring $83 million in total subsidizes in 2013. Even worse, ridership of the TRE’s current passenger lines has continued to drastically decrease over the last five years (currently below 2002 levels) despite a huge surge in regional population growth.
In other words, with potential rail demand dramatically increasing, actual net ridership is decreasing.
Alternatively, critics point out that Fort Worth can connect to the airport in a far less expensive way, by adding six miles of track to the TRE’s existing line to DFW’s south entrance, instead of the proposed thirty-seven new miles to the north.
As with most public works projects allegedly aimed at serving the “public at large”, Tex Rail will divert billions in taxpayer road funds toward a few private benefactors. Since the project is both a conversion and an expansion of existing commercial freight lines, the boondoggle may amount to nothing more than corporate handouts for freight rail companies.
Taxpayers who want more roads and less rail need to demand that local, county, and state officials take aggressive action against the North Central Texas Council of Government (NCTCOG) and their inconspicuous federally-mandated planning bureaucracy called the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) that is aggressively pushing to funnel our local tax dollars away from roadways.
As TFR’s transportation expert Christopher Paxton noted, the current system is a complicated “cradle of dysfunction” and a direct attack on both representative government and local control.
The remedy, however, is simple.
Texans should continue to demand that their city, county, and state officials stop subsidizing reckless policy and oppose non-road projects. To date, some communities like Colleyville have actually passed resolutions to do the opposite—by advocating for more rail, wasteful debt and higher taxes.
*This article was updated on November 12th to reflect a correction in the amount of taxpayer subsidies related to the “T” and the “TRE”.