The Regional Transportation Council on Thursday approved a compromise version of its Rail North Texas plan, with members saying they wanted to go to Austin in January with a united voice, to ask state lawmakers for permission to raise taxes for a region-wide commuter rail network.
The compromise gives existing transit agencies -- the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Denton County Transportation Authority -- a larger role in deciding what lobbyists hired by cities and counties in North Texas can and can't say about the Rail North Texas plan.
The measure passed with a 34-4 vote.
RTC has been working on Rail North Texas for nearly a year, after efforts in 2005 and 2007 to raise the state's 8.25 percent sales tax ceiling to pay for commuter rail failed in the state Legislature. This time, Rail North Texas focuses on alternatives to the sales tax. It would allow up to 12 Dallas-Fort Worth counties, including Tarrant County, to raise one or more taxes or fees from a menu picked by the Legislature.
The new taxes and feeds could include: higher vehicle registration fees, property taxes, gasoline taxes, driver license renewals or impact fees on new Texas residents.
The money would be used to build a regionwide commuter rail system, that would look similar to the Trinity Railway Express and criss-cross the Metroplex on more than 215 miles of railroad tracks by 2030.