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Another Roadblock for Mass Transit Needs in North Texas

By Jack Douglas Jr. and Ginger Allen
(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Ginger Allen
Ginger is the Senior Investigative Reporter of the CB...
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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - Getting to the hospital district in Fort Worth is a problem for Kristi Anderson. She could really use a lift.

“Right now, we’re sitting here without a ride,” said Anderson, as she and a friend waited outside JPS Hospital for someone to come pick them up.

Anderson wasn’t happy when the I-Team told her about a delay in the much-anticipated commuter rail line that was going to include Fort Worth’s medical district.

“These people are here for different reasons. They don’t have transportation. They can’t drive,” she said.

The I-Team has learned the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, known as “The T,” has postponed parts of the “TEX Rail” commuter line, again, after years of delays and a $15 million commitment to plan and design it.

Last September, the I-Team raised eyebrows and caused local officials to ask for an audit after we obtained expense reports from transit board members for posh hotel rooms at places like Orlando’s Peabody Hotel – known for its red-carpet parade of ducks.

The I-Team also learned some of The T’s board and staff members paid for a Colorado ski trip, and stayed in high-priced hotel rooms as close as Dallas.

Fort Worth City Councilman Jungus Jordan, a long-time leader in mass-transit initiatives in North Texas, was critical of some of The T’s travel costs, when first reported by the I-Team, and now is disappointed in the latest development.

“It’s another delay. Originally, this project was committed to be in place in 2012 …2013 … 2014…2016. And now it’s 2017,” Jordan said.

He said he believes new board members on The T are being more responsible with taxpayer dollars, and that, eventually, the entire commuter line will be completed.

But Jordan expressed concern that some areas will be postponed, including the hospital district where many depend on public transportation for their health needs.

“Those are important commuter stations because there is good ridership. Those are our workforce stations,” the City Council member said.

Back at JPS Hospital, after waiting in the heat, a friend finally picked Kristi Anderson up. Before that, she expressed disappointment that the medical district was not the top priority for efforts to build a commuter rail line.

“This is where they really need it,” Anderson said.

So where is the focus?

No one at The T agreed to talk to the I-Team on camera, or in person. Instead, they sent a statement that, in part, quoted Mayor Betsy Price as saying, “Connecting downtown to D-FW Airport has been, and will continue to be, our top priority.”

The statement also quoted Price as saying, “While the funding for TEX Rail continues to be a moving target, we simply have to start somewhere.”

If you want to reach CBS 11′s Senior Investigative Producer Jack Douglas Jr., you can email him at jdouglas@cbs.com. If you want to reach CBS 11′s Investigative reporter Ginger Allen, you can email her at gingera@ktvt.com.

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