Soaring gas prices boost mass transit in Fort Worth




Posted on April 12, 2011 at 7:14 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 12 at 8:40 PM

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth commuters are filling up The T instead of filling up their tanks.

The Fort Worth Transit Authority reported express route riders are up 23 percent compared to March 2010.

"It just makes more sense to ride the bus these days, if you want to eat," said bus passenger Marshall Rice.

Carlos Ponce gave up his car when gas hit $3.50 a gallon. He caught the bus with his car title in hand.

"I'm going to sell it, because I don't really need it," Ponce said. "I can take the train and the bus and it works out pretty good."

Ridership on The T peaked in 2008 when the national average for gasoline was $4 a gallon. T officials see $4 gas prices in sight, so they are making plans for a potential record number of riders.

The company is now waiting on trained drivers for eight new buses. The articulated vehicles were purchased with $6.4 million in stimulus money. Each holds 50 percent more passengers than the usual T bus.

"If we start to get a real jump again, we’ll be able to use those around the Fort Worth area to accommodate increased passengers," said transit agency spokeswoman Joan Hunter.

The T is also ready to add cars to The Trinity Railway Express as more riders catch the train that links Fort Worth and Dallas.

Angela Shelton and her daughters are adding to the nearly 9,400 people who take the TRE every day.

"Parking and driving all the way from Arlington to Fort Worth in an SUV? That's crazy," Shelton said. "It's a lot of money to spend on gas."

Many hopped on the bus Tuesday with a smile. They said while it may be crowded, riding the bus saves them money.