Trinity Metro votes to discontinue The Dash, other underperforming bus routes, starting this fall

Trinity Metro’s iconic electric red bus, The Dash, will make its final stop on September 15.

The transit agency’s board of directors voted unanimously on May 20 to discontinue The Dash and four other bus routes due to low ridership: Route 28, Route 45, Route 66X and Route 23. Some of the areas previously served by these routes were served will now be covered by ZIPZONE, Trinity Metro’s on-demand ride-sharing service.

“(These routes) are among the worst performing routes. They are also one of the easiest ways for us to reduce those lost connections,” said Phil Dupler, the agency’s director of planning.

Route 5 and Route 15 will see an increase in frequency and length of service, respectively, starting this fall.

Trinity Metro operates six electric buses known as The Dash, which provide daily service to downtown, the cultural district and the West 7th entertainment district. (Photo courtesy of Trinity Metro)

The route changes were first proposed to the board in March, alongside fare changes to streamline prices. These adjustments will save Trinity Metro more than $64,000 in its 2025 budget.

These resources, buses and funds will be reallocated to other routes, said Chad Edwards, the agency’s executive vice president of strategy, planning and development.

Residents shared concerns and questions about the proposed elimination of The Dash and other routes such as Route 66X, an express service that connects downtown to southwest Fort Worth via Chisholm Trail Parkway.

Paul McManus, who calls himself a public transportation enthusiast and advocate, asked how the Dickies Arena stop and nearby Cultural District destinations currently served by The Dash will be handled.

At this time, no routes will be added to serve the Cultural District beyond the current existing routes, Dupler told the board.

Several residents said they relied on the 66X express route to get to and from work every day. Some pointed out that the other routes that serve the same area – routes 6, 52 and 72 – often have residents working too early or too late and only operate on an hourly basis.

“The 66X provides me with a quick and convenient option since I do not drive or own a car,” city employee April Smith wrote in a submitted comment. “There are a few City of Fort Worth employees who rely on that route. Eliminating that route without replacing it or providing another reliable option is absurd.”

No other residents came to speak about the bus route changes during today’s public hearing.

The Dash bus was launched in 2019 as a pilot project promoted by the Blue Zones Project, a Texas Health Resources initiative focused on healthy habits. The bus route sought to promote healthy lifestyles in downtown and the West 7th Entertainment District.

However, ridership remained stagnant following the COVID-19 crisis and often competed with the current Route 2 bus that runs along Camp Bowie Boulevard.

As a result of the passenger numbers, The Dash’s partners stopped financing. The electric vehicles will be reused for the downtown trolley, Molly.

The board will vote on the new proposed rate changes at its June meeting.

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at [email protected] or @ssadek19.

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