Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T)

The T Projects Higher TEX Rail Ridership in Annual Update to FTA

New projections show that TEX Rail will reach an average daily ridership of 18,100 by 2035, up 1,500 since The T's commuter rail project was approved to enter Preliminary Engineering by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in March, 2012.  TEX Rail's 2016 opening year average daily ridership jumped to 9,890, more than 1,000 above the Trinity Railway Express average daily ridership. 

The ridership increase is among other metrics reported by The T in their annual project update submittal to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Agencies must update their progress, projected cost update, financial resources, partnerships and community support for their project.

"FTA specifies a timeline for requirements the agency must complete -- a to-do list, of sorts -- and requires an annual update to validate the agency has accomplished them," said Dick Ruddell, president of The T.

"I am pleased to report that The T's annual TEX Rail submittal to FTA shows TEX Rail is still scheduled to open in 2016 with no delays from last year's schedule," said Ruddell.

The T received a project score of medium-high as part of its FTA approval this spring to enter Preliminary Engineering (PE). With this year's update, The T fully expects to maintain the Medium High rating it received in the spring.

Other Highlights Include:

*Railroad Negotiations: Negotiations are nearing completion on deal points with owners of existing railroads to allow TEX Rail's operation within their respective rights-of-way.

*Construction: The T finalized its delivery approach and elected to use a design-build construction process. "Using this process will help to achieve cost efficiencies and keep the project on schedule," Ruddell said. The T has issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) of potential bidders on the design/build contract, with responses due in October.  This follows a pre-proposal briefing in August for potential bidders with networking opportunities for prime and subcontractors.

*Environmental: The T is following the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process of updating environmental documents and gathering public feedback on the project. Public meetings are slated for November in Fort Worth and Grapevine.

*Rail Stations: Stations in Haltom City and North Side are now projected to open in 2016, up from 2019.

The T also submitted to the FTA an update of its 2035 financial plan that includes a new cost estimate.  Based on current status of the corridor access agreements, project scope definition and project risks, such as federally-required Positive Train Control, The T has increased its projected capital cost expenditures. With FTA applied contingency, escalation, and finance charges, these result in a total projected project cost of $960 million, in the year of expenditure dollars, up from $758 million.

The purpose of the financial plan submission is to document The T's financial capacity to construct and operate TEX Rail consistent with FTA requirements for grants awarded under the New Starts Program while continuing to operate and maintain its existing transit system.

In addition to The T's own rail reserves, it has commitments from funding partners throughout the region including the City of Fort Worth, the City of Grapevine, Tarrant County, the State of Texas and the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

To reduce project costs, The T is currently working with its regional partners including, the City of Fort Worth, DART, BNSF, UPRR, Tarrant County and DFW Airport on several value engineering concepts.

"Our regional partners have been very supportive and engaged in the advancement of these value engineering concepts and are committed to the success of TEX Rail," said Ruddell.