Employees decry reduction of Route 7 service hours

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    University employees who ride the city bus to campus said they will likely have difficulty getting to work on time after the Fort Worth Transportation Authority – also known as the T – approved a proposal on March 17 that would halve the service hours of Route 7, which stops on campus.

    Walter Betts, the university’s system librarian who uses Route 7 to commute to work, said the changes could lead to his having to work half an hour earlier or force him to start driving. Betts said one of his options is to buy a used car, but that’s not what he wants to do.

    “I’m hoping that I’ll get to keep riding,” Betts said.

    Betts said that he has talked to other people who are concerned about how the changes to the bus service would affect their work schedules. He said he believed the people who would be affected the most are the Sodexo food service employees who ride the bus and work in places on campus that close after 8 p.m.

    Kathryn Washington, a Sodexo employee who works in Market Square and catches the 8:15 a.m. to get to campus from Irving, said the schedules of people riding the route in the morning would be affected as well.

    “A lot of the people I ride with wouldn’t be able to get to work on time,” Washington said.

    According to a press release from Joan Hunter, communication manager for the T, Route 7, which runs from Bluebonnet Circle to the Intermodal Transportation Center Station downtown, is one of nine bus routes that will have reduced services when money-saving cuts take effect May 30.

    The bus currently runs every half hour from 5:45 a.m. to 10:15 p.m., but according to the press release, the changes would allow for one trip every hour and would cut out the three runs after 8 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday.

    Hunter said eliminating the last three runs made sense because “only two or three people” were riding the buses on each of those later runs.

    According to the T, the service reductions will save $700,000 annually to be put toward offsetting a $2.1 million loss in sales taxes revenue in Fort Worth. Hunter said the money saved will go to the cost of operating the T for the Fort Worth area.

    Mary Volcansek, a professor of political science and chair of the Finance Committee for the Fort Worth Transportation Authority Board , voted against the change to halve Route 7 service hours. She said university staff and faculty rely on the bus system to get to and from work and the schedule change would not benefit them. Volcansek said that even though there is a significant revenue problem and reducing the bus route would significantly help the deficit, her loyalty is to the university.

    “I really felt strongly about TCU and serving TCU faculty/staff and students,” Volcansek said.

    Cynthia Lake, a Sodexo employee, said she does not think the changes are right for the people who ride the bus because they are paying to ride, and the changes will make things difficult for them.

    “They are making it hard for us to have transportation to work,” Lake said.

    Lake said she doesn’t think there is anything that can be done because the T is not listening to the voices of the people who ride Route 7.

    “Even if we did protest, I’m feeling like they will do whatever they want anyway,” Lake said.

    Hunter said the T officials did listen as public meetings were conducted before the changes were set and that the officials made what they felt are the fairest changes possible. She said changes were “absolutely necessary” not just in Fort Worth, but all around the country.

    “The T is not alone,” Hunter said. “Transit agencies across the country, pretty much widespread, are doing the same thing until the sales tax recovers.”

    Hunter said the changes to all the bus routes would be reviewed when the sales tax recovers and once it does, Route 7 would be in consideration for having its 30-minute service restored.

    University students and staff can ride the T for free by showing their TCU ID cards along with a bus pass supplied by the university.

    Hunter said the new schedule for the bus times has not been set.

    Staff reporter Jennifer Ivy contributed to this report.