This week the North Central Texas Council of Governments received grant funding to study transit access in the southside of Fort Worth. The $270,000 grant, provided by the Federal Transit Administration’s 2021 Areas of Persistent Poverty program, is part of the FTA’s $16.2 million initiative that includes 40 projects nationwide + will work to develop strategies to give residents better access to basic needs. Today, we’re breaking down where, why, and how the money will be used.
The study will take place in zip code 76104, an area south of I-30 that includes the Historic Southside, Morningside, and Hillside neighborhoods. It is also home to the city’s Medical District, containing five hospitals and countless doctors’ offices.
The 76104 zip code is considered an “area of persistent poverty” where 14% of residents face poverty, compared to the 4.3% average in Tarrant County. According to a UT Southwestern Medical Center report from 2019, 76104 has the lowest life expectancy in the state of Texas, averaging 66.7 years, compared to the statewide average of 78.5 years.
A video produced by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes that experts point to “segregation, lack of access to healthy food, and unsafe or unhealthy housing” as causes for low life expectancy. You can dive further into the causes with the newspaper’s “Life & Death in 76104” series.
So how does looking at transit access address poverty and life expectancy? Basically, the study will examine if 76104 residents can reach essential services. Just because a neighborhood has resources, doesn’t mean that residents can get to them.
Drag the slider to see the Trinity Metro bus routes in 76104. | Graphic by FTWtoday
It will examine the public transportation access of the area — which is currently serviced by Trinity Metro’s fixed bus routes (1, 4, 5, 6, 24, 54, 61X, 65X, 66X + 89) as well as the Southside ZipZone micro transit — to find out if the services can be enhanced or revised to meet demands. It will also weigh transit fares against their equitable access.
The program will develop solutions to improve access to healthy food, health care, affordable housing, and employment. It’s looking for ways for the community to reach affordable grocery stores with fresh produce and nearby medical facilities using public transportation.
The slider above reveals that the easternmost public medical facility in 76104 — JPS Polytechnic Health Center (1650 S. Beach St.) — can only be accessed by the East Rosedale (4) route, which stops four blocks away on the corner of Rosedale and Stearns.
Finally, the study will strategize ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in order to improve air quality in the community.
The study will begin in the 2023 fiscal year + intends to leverage stakeholder engagement and public involvement to garner feedback and develop solutions. Stay tuned for ways you can get involved.