Policy and Legislative Updates

We recently told you about how the government can affect public transportation in North Texas.  From local city councils, to the federal government, public policy shapes how public transportation systems are built and funded across the nation.

Since policy influences the type of public transportation projects our region undertakes, DART will continue to bring you the latest updates on any relevant policy changes.

Federal Policy and Public Transportation

President Trump’s Budget: The president recently released his budget proposal that includes pertinent changes to public transportation funding.  Now that the president has submitted a proposed budget to Congress, the House and Senate will commence drafting budget legislation that considers the president’s budget proposal.  Once this legislation is drafted, Congress will ultimately vote on a final report that is put before the president for a signature or veto. In the president’s current budget, he has proposed significant cuts for public transportation. Though the budget in its current form is unlikely to pass through Congress, it decreased funds to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grant Program (CIG), TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act programs.  These cuts may jeopardize transit projects in a large number of states, including Texas. The federal budget is significant to DART because of federal funds the agency is currently pursuing from the CIG program to help fund the D2 Subway.  DART will continue to keep you updated on the federal government’s budget, the status of federal funds for public transportation, and any other federal funding options DART may pursue.

State Policy and Public Transportation

Senate Bill 385: The Texas Legislature wrapped up their regular session on May 29.  S.B. 385 by Sen. Konni Burton of Fort Worth, which required voter approval from all cities a commuter rail project passes through to use federal funds to build a commuter rail line, did not pass.  This legislation would have affected public transportation projects such as DART’s Cotton Belt or the T’s TEX Rail. If the Governor calls the legislature into a special session, Sen. Burton could refile this bill. However, remember the Governor determines the legislature’s agenda during special sessions. 

Local Policy and Public Transportation

Dallas Sales Tax Diversion:  The Dallas pension fund for police and fire employees is currently in crisis, with the fund having approximately 28 percent of what it needs to pay retirees.  In February, several Dallas city council members proposed diverting 1/8th of the one-cent sales tax voters pledged to DART and sending it to the City to pay down some of the pension system’s shortfall. It’s estimated that such a diversion would have cost DART $35 million per year, jeopardizing transit service in Dallas. However, since our last post, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed House Bill 3158 to fix the fund and mitigate losses. This bill does not include utilizing the one-cent sales tax pledged to DART.

Policy can change due to different administrations, amendments, and new information. Since DART must abide by transportation policy on the local, state, and national level, we will continue to bring you updates. Understanding the impacts of transportation policy will allow DART to create the best transportation plans that will drive North Texas forward.

About DART Daily

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) gets you around 13 cities with rail, bus, paratransit, and rideshare services. We serve DFW International Airport and Fort Worth via the Trinity Railway Express (TRE). The service area consists of 13 cities: Addison, Carrollton, Cockrell Hill, Dallas, Farmers Branch, Garland, Glenn Heights, Highland Park, Irving, Plano, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park.
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2 Responses to Policy and Legislative Updates

  1. Christopher White says:

    I still feel the Cotton Belt extension thru north Dallas is a waste of money and adds significant risk to families in the impacted neighborhoods. Richardson and Plano should concentrate their efforts on other plans. Richardson should look to express bus connect from their red line. Plano should look to solve the monsterous traffic issues at Legacy, 121 and the Tollway.

  2. Matt Adamczyk says:

    Chris White makes good sense to me. DART’s hubris in approving two Billion-Dollar projects at the same time and when the City of Dallas is struggling already with its bond rating and the cost of fixing the Police and Fire Pension fund is astonishing. DART follows its own policy, politics, and agenda without regard to other needs or the wishes and legitimate concerns of many of its own constituents and citizen funders.

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