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Dallas-Ft. Worth ready to move ahead with commuter rail

Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas’s largest metropolitan area, is getting ready to put a 250 mile commuter rail plan to voters. In an interesting move, lawmakers are proposing that each of the metroplex’s counties choose its own method of paying for the plan from a pre-determined list.

Officials from cities, counties and transit agencies spent about an hour explaining the need for rail, as well as the work done in the past six months with Texas Instruments and other powerful companies that had opposed the plan.

In a nod to those businesses, planners have abandoned a proposal to raise the state’s 8.25 percent sales-tax cap and are instead proposing that Metroplex counties be given a “menu” of taxes and fees to choose from — possibly including vehicle registration fees more than double today’s rate.

Texas might seem like an unlikely place to see progressive transportation policies, but the state has a history with rail transit. The original Texas TGV high-speed rail system was squashed by Southwest Airlines in the mid-90’s (ironically, American and Continental are now members of the new HSR corporation there) and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has been rapdily growing its modern light-rail system (currently operating at capacity, according to the article).

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