Tracks to the Future was a conference presented on Friday, December 11 by many regional groups discussing transit in the metroplex.
The featured speaker at the event was Pat McCrory, former mayor of Charlotte, NC.
McCrory was recently on PBS’s Blueprint America, where he says,
You can wait until the pain arrives and implement change then. It will be an easy sell, but mostly likely you’ve waited too long and it’ll be too expensive. Or you can anticipate the pain and change now. And most likely, the change will work and it’ll be less expensive. But it’s gonna be one hell of a sale.
McCrory’s key parts to a vision for transit included:
- Integrated: Transit AND Land Use
- Choices: Rail, buses, bikes, pedestrians, etc.
- Make Money/Create Jobs
- Make the Right Decisions: build the lines where the experts say they should go, not the politicians
- Find the Money
- Keep in Touch: includes expanding your audience – don’t just talk to people who already agree with you
- Deal with Crisis
- Make it Work
McCrory also emphasized the importance of grassroots involvement from the beginning, showing pictures, and (ahem) avoiding speaking like a planner.
McCrory started out the afternoon session with the question: “Is there anyone who still needs to be convinced of the benefits of transit?”
The only response came from one person: “The City of Arlington,” which was followed by much laughter and applause.
The afternoon session focused on what to do to make transit happen, including:
- Have citizen involvement, at the beginning and throughout the process. Burleson Mayor Ken Shetter emphasized the importance of having some “nuts” (ie, passionate people) on your side.
- Include the private sector.
- Respect others’ visions and opinions, including your opponents. And make sure your arguments hold up.
- Show examples of success, and if you can, send people to those successes so they can experience them first-hand.
McCrory summed up the conference with three things Fort Worth needs to do:
- Clarify your vision – long-term – for the next generation
- Get a consensus on financial models
- Clarify your message and communications, and have more outreach.
Other highlights included:
- Vic Suhm of Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition discussed how in the 81st Texas legislative session many bills were presented, but 0 passed. Part of the problems included having weak organization, and a string of local bills. In the future they will need grassroots support and “heavyhitters.”
- Dallas and Fort Worth are looking to use TIGER grants for their streetcar projects.
- TxDot now has a Rail division. The new director, Bill Glavin, was present.
- NCTCOG presented a map of possible future rail lines.
- Vision North Texas Regional Summit will be at UTA on January 22, 2010.
The slides from this conference should be available online soon on Fort Worth’s website, highlights will be shown on Fort Worth’s cable tv channel, and a DVD will be available. Fort Worthology also has some nice entries about the event.