Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas/RAILTRAN Phase II

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RAILTRAN Phase II

Dallas, Ft. Worth, Texas

(November 1998)

Description

The RAILTRAN Phase II project will provide additional commuter rail service on 25 miles of existing track and right-of-way between Irving and Fort Worth. Phase I initiated ten miles of service between Dallas and Irving in December 1996. Phase II is estimated to carry 10,950 daily riders in the year 2010 at a capital cost of $141.4 million (1998 dollars). FTA has estimated total project costs in year of expenditure (YOE) at $153.5 million, with an estimated Section 5309 share of $69.1 million. Long-term plans call for Phase III to extend service to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Phase II includes five passenger stations, track and signal improvements to the existing rail line, construction of 1.5 miles of new main track on a new alignment in downtown Fort Worth, expansion of the existing Irving Yard commuter rail maintenance facility, and purchase of rolling stock. Two stations are located in downtown Fort Worth, including the site of the Intermodal Transportation Center, and three stations are located in suburban locations. The local agencies have selected the name "Trinity Railway Express" (TRE) for the commuter service.

RAILTRAN Phase II Summary Description

Proposed Project Commuter Rail
25 miles, 5 stations
Total Capital Cost ($YOE) $153.50 million
Section 5309 Share ($YOE) $69.10 million
Annual Operating Cost ($YOE) $9.20 million
Ridership Forecast (2010) 10,950 daily boardings
5,000 daily new riders
FY 2000 Financial Rating: Medium-High
FY 2000 Project Justification Rating: Medium
FY 2000 Overall Project Rating: Recommended

The overall project rating applied to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1998. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.

Status

In 1984, the RAILTRAN right-of-way between Dallas and Fort Worth was purchased with FTA assistance. Since then the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe have been operating freight service on the tracks.

The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA) and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) have signed an agreement on the construction, operation, and financing of the RAILTRAN service. Phase II is scheduled to open in 2000, and FWTA is the lead local agency in the development of this phase. A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was issued in December 1998.

Section 3030(21) of TEA-21 authorizes the Dallas-Ft. Worth Railtran Project Phase II for final design and construction. Through FY 1999, Congress has appropriated $46.4 million in Section 5309 New Starts funds for this project.

Evaluation

The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA's Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria.

Justification

Mobility Improvements

Rating: Medium

FWTA estimates the following annual travel time savings.

Mobility Improvements New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours) 57.90 million hours 17.80 million hours

There are an estimated 407 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed five stations, roughly 22 percent of total households within a ½ mile of proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: High

Dallas/Fort Worth is classified as a "serious" non-attainment area for ozone. FWTA estimates that RAILTRAN Phase 2 would result in the following annual emissions reductions.

Criteria Pollutant New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Carbon Monoxide (CO) decrease of 4 annual tons decrease of 4 annual tons
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) decrease of 13 annual tons decrease of 13 annual tons
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) decrease of 121 annual tons decrease of 115 annual tons
Particulate Matter (PM10) decrease of 3 annual tons decrease of 3 annual tons
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) decrease of 852 annual tons decrease of 563 annual tons

FWTA estimates that Phase 2 would result in the following savings in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal Units - BTU):

Annual Energy Savings New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
BTU (millions) decrease of 11,238 million annual BTU decrease of 7,492 million annual BTU

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Not Rated

Information in operating efficiencies was not available.

Operating Efficiencies No-Build TSM New Start
System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (YOE) N/A N/A N/A

Values reflect 2010 ridership forecast and 1997 dollars.

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Medium-High

FWTA estimates the following cost effectiveness indices.

Cost Effectiveness New Start vs. No- Build New Start vs. TSM
Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger $4.62 $9.77

Values reflect 2010 ridership forecast and 1997 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Low-Medium

The projectís Low-Medium land use rating reflects the low density along most of the proposed corridor, except for downtown Fort Worth at the western end of the corridor. The proposed commuter rail alignment generally lies adjacent to industrial, vacant, or agricultural land, although small clusters of residential and commercial development surround a few station areas. Fort Worth has experienced downtown employment growth of 41 percent between 1990 and 1995. Fort Worth supports housing in the downtown area by offering tax abatements; as a result, developers have added 800 new residential units in the Fort Worth CBD and have plans to add 650 more in a later phase of development. The staff of the City of Fort Worth is developing a proposed Transit Oriented Development (TOD) amendment to the zoning ordinance to encourage dense development with a mix of uses clustered around transit stops. Transit supportive development proposals are evident in the Mosier Valley and Rock Island Bottom areas along the corridor. However, there are no adopted policies to limit growth in the municipalities along the commuter rail corridor. In addition, there are no regional growth management policies, regionally coordinated urban infill policies or policies to curtail parking in the central business district.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 55%

The projectís financial plan proposes to utilize $64.3 million (45 percent) in Section 5309 New Start funds, $1.0 million (1 percent) in Section 5307 formula funds, $40.4 million (33 percent) in Federal flexible funds, and $35.7 million (26 percent) in State and local funds.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Medium-High

The projectís Medium-High capital plan rating reflects the relatively strong local financial commitment to the project and the significant reserves on hand to cover any potential cost overruns. DART and the RAILTRAN Authority both have the financial capacity to meet the funding commitments to the project. FWTA faces only modest capital investment commitments beyond Phase II of the RAILTRAN project. FWTA's $35.7 million local match is to be derived from the agency's local sales tax (0.5 percent), Tarrant County, the City of Dallas, and the City of Fort Worth, RAILTRAN, FWTA, and DART. FWTAís Finance Plan demonstrates significant reserves to cover unanticipated cost overruns.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Medium-High

The projectís Medium-High operating plan rating reflects the relatively strong fiscal capacity of the RAILTRAIN Authority, FWTA, and DART to operate the project. The projected annual operating costs of $9 million beginning in FY 2000 are reasonable given the system size and type of service. Any operating deficit for RAILTRAN is to be financed from the agency's local sales tax revenue source or from positive cash balances and will cover the project's total operating needs. Operations of the completed commuter rail line have been contracted out to a private operator.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $1997)

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
($million)
Appropriations to Date
Federal:
Section 5309 New Starts $64.30 $46.40 million appropriated through FY 1999
Section 5307 Formula $1.00 N/A
Flexible Funds (CMAQ & STP) $40.40 N/A
Local:
Sales tax revenue $35.70 N/A
Total: $141.40

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

[RAILTRAN Phase 2 Map (PDF)]