Now that Trinity Metro’s ridership numbers have nearly recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency is forging a path to increase the number of people using public transportation in 2023. 

A task force comprised of Trinity Metro staff recently presented nine recommendations to the Board of Directors to implement over the next year. Those recommendations focus on improving safety and customer experience as well as educating the public about available services. 

“Now that COVID-19 is mostly in the rearview mirror, we’ve been able to focus on bringing back that ridership. And people in some cases have forgotten about us. In some cases, people have moved here and don’t know about us,” said Richard Andreski, president and CEO of Trinity Metro. “We want to do as much as possible with our system, we have capacity… So our goal here is to do more with the resources we’ve been allocated and to be more useful to our community.”

Trinity Metro’s ridership recovery is at 81% of what it was pre-pandemic, leading many Texas agencies when it comes to bringing back riders, said Melissa Chrisman, the executive sponsor of the Ridership Task Force and vice president of marketing and communications.

“We kind of thought, ‘What are the reasons why people may not be coming back to transit? Or what are the reasons that they might not have tried it?’ And how can we turn that into an opportunity,” Chrisman said. 

The first tactic is hosting a grand re-opening of TEXRail to celebrate the four-year anniversary of the rail line, which opened in January 2019. The agency will host events at four different stations on the TEXRail line, reintroducing people to the rail line who may have forgotten or not known about it. 

Tactics to increase ridership:

  1. Host a TEXRail “Re Grand-Opening” event 
  2. Upgrade technology on buses and trains, including WiFi.
  3. GoPass/See Say Integration: improve app experience, with real-time tracking
  4. Upgrade the website.
  5. Schedule Day Spring Service Change: with changes to the schedule, staff will go out and inform the public of the changes.  
  6. Have officers and neighborhood police officers onboard to interact with riders. 
  7. Include veterans in the reduced fare program 
  8. Improve bus stops and rail stations 
  9. Introduce a rewards/loyalty program 

“We’ve had so much economic development around some of our TEXRail stations. We have so many people moving into Fort Worth every day,” Chrisman said. “We started the service on Jan. 10, 2019, had a year of great service, and then got the pandemic.”

Other recommendations include a $7 million, three-year gradual redesign of the bus stops across Fort Worth as well as educational outreach in the community near train and bus stations. 

On the technology side, the website will be revamped to make it more user-friendly. Trinity Metro also expects to improve GoPass, the agency’s pass where passengers can purchase tickets, to include real-time tracking, and eventually add WiFi to the trains and buses. 

The agency is also looking to create a loyalty program for users and offer reduced fares for veterans. 

“Every one of these tactics is about really putting ourselves in the shoes of the rider,” Andreski said. I think this gets us there. And then this really sets the stage for the future … When we hear from customers, they want more.”

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at sandra.sadek@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter at @ssadek19

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Sandra Sadek

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Houston, she graduated from Texas State University where she studied journalism and international...