Special to The Dallas Examiner
The North Central Texas Council of Governments has been awarded a grant of approximately $270,000 to identify innovative, affordable transit solutions to improve access to basic needs and create strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in a part of Fort Worth identified as an area of persistent poverty.
NCTCOG’s plan will focus on finding transit solutions in the 76104 ZIP code, which despite being home to the Fort Worth Medical District has the lowest life expectancy in the state, according to a study by UT-Southwestern Medical Center.
The 2021 Areas of Persistent Poverty Program grant, awarded by the Federal Transit Administration, will fund a transit needs assessment that could lead to the development of transit solutions to connect the community to healthy food, health care, affordable housing and employment. The study will also look to develop strategies to reduce the formation of greenhouse gases and improve air quality in the community.
Improved transit connections could help residents whose transportation issues lead them to struggle with these necessities. For example, 14% of residents living in areas of the ZIP code identified as facing “persistent poverty” have no vehicle, compared to 4.3% of households throughout Tarrant County.
“NCTCOG and the Regional Transportation Council are committed to working with our valued public-sector and community partners to find solutions to improve access of residents of this area to life-sustaining services,” said Shannon Stevenson, NCTCOG senior program manager, transit management and planning. “We look forward to collaborating with the community to develop strategies that lead to real solutions for those who live and work in the study area.”
NCTCOG will coordinate with residents, nonprofit organizations and community leaders to build consensus and develop a plan to improve access to the basic needs of the community. The area is served by Trinity Metro’s fixed-route bus service and on-demand ZIP Zone micro transit. In part, the study will examine current transit options available in the 76104 ZIP code and whether they should be enhanced or revised to better meet demand. The study will also look at transit fares and their impact on equitable access to these transit services.
“We are committed to collaboratively identifying evidence-based solutions to existing disparities in transportation services in our community, specifically in 76104,” said Christina Brooks, chief equity officer and director of the Department of Diversity and Inclusion at the city of Fort Worth. “Additionally, we can use the data from this study to proactively prevent creating new disparities for the future. Ultimately, every resident, regardless of your ZIP code, should have access to quality, affordable transportation that supports a thriving quality of life in our community.”
Work on the study is expected to commence in fiscal year 2023 and will include extensive stakeholder engagement and public involvement to inform the final plan. The FTA awarded 40 projects across the nation a total of $16.2 million to fight persistent poverty.