Bus Route 7 service hours halved

Grant Eubanks commutes on a bus from the Fort Worth Transportation Authority every morning to help cut down on his cost of living. However, schedule changes for the T bus system planned to go into effect in May could have him waiting around an extra half hour every morning.

The T is in the process of reducing bus services by cutting the frequency and time of nine bus routes in Fort Worth, said Dick Ruddell, president of the T, a public hearing Tuesday night.

One of them is Route 7, which runs from Bluebonnet Circle to the Intermodal Transportation Center Station downtown, and is the bus that Eubanks, a Brite Divinity School student, and other students and professors take to class every day, Eubanks said.

Currently, the downtown-bound bus runs every half hour from 5:45 a.m. to 10:15 p.m. The proposed changes will cut the frequency down to once an hour and eliminate the last three trips after 8 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, according to press release from the T.

Students and staff can ride the T at no cost by presenting their TCU ID card and a bus pass provided the university when they get on the bus.

Walter Betts, systems librarian at the Mary Couts Burnett Library, said driving to campus takes him less time than the bus, but the convenience and gas savings of public transportation made it worthwhile. But if an extra 30 minutes were added to the bus commute, Betts said, he would not be pleased.

“That extra 30 minutes is OK,” he said. “But an extra 30 minutes on top of that is not OK. It’s going to force me to drive more and pay for parking spaces.”

Eubanks said he commutes to campus during the week. He said his biggest concern was getting to and from school on time.

“Buses are what you use if you can’t you use anything else,” Eubanks said. “If your whole livelihood is dependant on this mode of transportation, then the more it cuts back.you have to plan your whole life around it.”

Eubanks said he understands the need for budgets to be met, but he wants to see the bus schedule be made accessible to students with flexible schedules.

The reason for the proposed changes, Ruddell said, is a sales tax reduction, which is the biggest source of funding for the T. The sales tax accounts for 56 percent of the operating revenue, he said.

Joan Hunter, a spokeswoman for the T, said the sales tax revenue is down by $1.9 million, 11 percent compared to the previous fiscal year. Currently, the proposed service reduction would save the T $700,000 annually, which would offset the lower tax sales revenue, she said.

Initially, the T implemented salary freezes, administrative item cuts and adjusted bus routes, Hunter said, but the decline has been worse than expected.

The proposed bus routes will be evaluated and approved by the board by next week, Hunter said.

Staff reporter Marshall Doig contributed to this report.