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Paul Ballard is Fort Worth’s bus boss, and he isn’t giving up on transit expansion

By Gordon Dickson


September 27, 2017 02:49 PM

A plan to boost funding for buses in Fort Worth fell through last week, but the leader of the city’s transit service says he isn’t giving up on expansion — especially on the west side.

“We had asked the city for funding for the west quadrant, and they supported it, but we got outmaneuvered on a parliamentarian move,” Paul Ballard, president of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, said Tuesday as he rode a T bus along Camp Bowie Boulevard. “But that support is still there, and no doubt we will be successful.”

Last week, an effort by Fort Worth Councilman Ann Zadeh and other city leaders to spend roughly $2.8 million in property tax proceeds on expanding bus service fell through after fellow council members Jungus Jordan and Cary Moon were no-shows to a meeting right before finalization of the city budget.

Fort Worth Transportation Authority president Paul Ballard, shown in 2015, said Tuesday he hasn’t given up on expanding west Fort Worth bus service despite a funding setback at City Hall.
Max Faulkner Star-Telegram

The money would have been on top of roughly $70 million the transportation authority, also known as the T, receives annually. The revenue comes from a half-cent sales tax, as well as about $11 million annually in federal funding and up to $8 million a year from rider fares.

On Tuesday, Ballard spent an hour of his day riding the bus and talking with two Star-Telegram reporters about all things mass transit, including the setback at City Hall. He chatted with riders on the T’s Route 2, which runs from downtown Fort Worth to Ridgmar Mall.

Ballard said his agency’s efforts to expand bus service on the North Side had worked, and that ridership in that area has expanded 5 percent since April. About a fourth of the roughly 25,000 riders per day now come from that part of town, he said. Over the next couple of years, the transportation authority will seek other ways to pay for additional bus service on the west side, and also will tweak bus service as needed when the planned TEX Rail commuter line starts service in late 2018.

TEX Rail will operate from downtown Fort Worth’s Intermodal Transportation Center at 1001 Jones St. to Grapevine and Dallas-Fort Worth Airport’s Terminal B.

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796, @gdickson