The Trinity Metro TEXRail train service has been operating for a year between downtown Fort Worth and DFW Airport with several stops in between, but ridership remains limited despite initial projections.
According to TEXRail, its highest ridership was in December 2019 with just over 50,000 passengers. The population of Tarrant County is over 2 million.
Originally proposed as a measure to reduce congestion and improve connectivity in the fast-growing DFW region, the Federal Transit Administration estimated that TEXRail would average 8300 riders per day.
However, the December 2019 numbers fell far short of that estimate, which if achieved would result in about 250,000 riders per month.
The TEXRail trains reportedly run on schedule over 99 percent of the time. TEXRail’s reliability and timeliness are key to increasing ridership, according to Jon-Erik “AJ” Arjanen, vice president and chief operating officer for rail.
Most of the weekday riders of TEXRail are taking it to DFW Airport. Saturday riders are primarily riding TEXRail into Grapevine.
“Transit systems across the country are seeing decreases in ridership, and Trinity Metro is no exception,” according to the 2019 Trinity Metro business plan and budget document.
Despite that decrease, TEXRail is the largest transportation project in the history of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA), projected at over $1 billion. It uses a combination of federal transportation dollars, state money, and local revenue.
The “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” Act, signed into law in 2015 by then-President Obama, authorized funding of about $500 million to build TEXRail. As of 2017, only about half had been appropriated to the project.
About $46 million of the project comes from the Texas Department of Transportation.
The project was recommended in 2007 by FWTA.
In an attempt to increase ridership, TEXRail offers “EASYRIDE.” This program offers reduced fares for corporations to offer transit as part of their benefits package to employees, a system mimicked in other big cities including Washington D.C.’s Metro system.
Regular fares on the TEXRail are $2.50 per ride or $5 for an all-day pass.
In spring 2016, a Texas Transportation poll conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that 93 percent of Texans rely on their personal vehicles as a primary means of transportation.
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority also operates the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) for commuters between downtown Fort Worth and downtown Dallas. TRE saw a decrease of 3.8 percent in Tarrant County riders in Fiscal Year 2018.
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.