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July 28, 2010

Can the T legally close Richland Hills Station on the Trinity Railway Express?

Tre2 Can the Richland Hills Station on the Trinity Railway Express legally be closed if the city's voters opt to leave the Fort Worth Transportation Authority in November? Can the Regional Transportation Council seek repayment of federal and local air quality dollars spent at the train station during the past decade or so -- millions of dollars?

Those questions are at the heart of a request by two Northeast Tarrant County lawmakers -- State Sen. Jane Nelson and state Rep. Todd Smith -- who have written the state attorney general's office seeking clarification on the subject.

Read their request for an opinion

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Comments

Ralph Smith

The question should be; can the citizens of Richland Hills sue the Fort Worth Transit Authority and parent company McDonald Transit for years of knowingly misappropriating bus services paid for by Richland Hills to further their TRE operations in Northeast Tarrant? Service audits have shown that as much as 80 percent of rides on the Richland Hills "T" buses are being given to citizens of non-member cities who transit to or from the Richland Hills TRE station but who do not make any stops in Richland Hills.

The question should be; do TRE riders know that all DFW cities are paying for the TRE and Richland Hills Station and that a petty decision by the "T" and the NCTCOG/RTC could waste their tax dollars and take away their access to ride the TRE?

The question should be; is this really a good business decision for all of the residents of the DFW Metroplex?

I guess we'll see!

Larry Marrs

First, the T found it legal enough to plan to construct and operate a temporary station in Arlington which fizzled not because of state transist law, but because of expense. In addition, the T's own strategic plan includes stations in other towns that are not now and will not likely ever agree to give up 1/2 cent sales tax to the T. The public statement by Mr. Parmalee, Chmn of the T, that the T would "have no choice" but to close the station because of the law was bogus and intended to threaten Richland Hills citizens. These are the same citizens who for 20 years have given the T $12 million so that the T could use them and the RH station for thier own profits and expanded NE Tarrant operations. It is now and has always been a shameful abuse of our citizens who, in good faith, thought they were leading the way for regional transportation.

Richland Hills needs a less expensive transportation system, which it can purchase from the private sector for a fraction of the $750,000 to $800,000 now going to the T. Our city employees will see no raise this year and our property taxes will go up along with a 34% boost in water rates because our citizens are spending too much on transportation.

The T needs to stop acting like a tyrant and recognize that they need to be a good civic partner in regional transportation. Any other cities even thinking about joining a transit authority should take a lesson from the Richland Hills experience. It's easy to get in, but the T and NTCOG will go to great lengths to stop any talk of exiting.

KC

Richland Hills was given everything promised to them and then some. If Richland Hills doesn't want to participate any longer that's fine. However, The T then would have no further responsibility to provide ANY service to Richland Hills, be it the TRE or otherwise.

Ralph Smith

KC...probably less than 5% of riders using the RH station are from Richland Hills so I'm fine with closing the station but I'm not so sure about riders and business from other cities that would be affected. Myself, I'd be happy to drive 5 minutes to Hurst Bell for the one time a year I ride the TRE to the AAC in Dallas but I can see how this stop is very accessible and convenient for area TRE users. Economically, the TRE station has no affect on Richland Hills but definitely does affect businesses in Hurst and North Richland Hills. If the T and NCTCOG are so set on Richland Hills continuing bus service....we're right here and ready to negotiate an acceptable rate for the service we use but aren't going to continue paying for everyone in the area to connect to the TRE.

Larry Marrs

KC, you are correct that T has no responsibility to continue any service in Richland Hills, including the TRE station, if our citizens vote to exit the transit authority in November. My issue is with Mr. Parmalee's statement that the T is "required" to close the station under existing Texas code. This is incorrect. If they want to close the station as a punative measure, thats fine, but then Mr. Parmalee just needs to make clear that the decision to close is discretionary on the part of the T versus required by law.

Regarding whether the citizens got the train station promised during initial negotiations with the T in the early 90s, the existing station is not an enclosed structure with HVAC as promised. You decide if we got what was promised when you see the RH station.

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