ARLINGTON -- Regional leaders are sweetening the pot of funds available for trains, buses and other transportation services for events related to the Feb. 6 Super Bowl to ensure that the area's historic moment isn't marred by congestion.
The Regional Transportation Council agreed Thursday to spend up to $450,000 on passenger trains, buses, wreckers and other transportation services for the Super Bowl and events up to 10 days earlier.
The Super Bowl Host Committee, which has access to more than $31 million from the state comptroller's major-event fund, has already agreed to cover $172,000 of those costs. Selling four- and one-day transit passes to the public would raise $50,000 more.
But that leaves about $228,000 that may be needed to make ends meet, said Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
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The transportation council, which has access to federal funds often used by cities and counties for transportation, air quality and other programs, voted unanimously to give Morris authority to cover that balance.
"If you ask me, it's not that much money to ensure we have a successful Super Bowl," Morris told transportation council members Thursday during a regular meeting in Arlington. "These are costs we're paying for to ensure the Super Bowl will come back next time."
The money is expected to be used on items such as extra Trinity Railway Express commuter rail service to downtown Fort Worth, where ESPN will broadcast live all week, and Dallas, site of the NFL Experience "theme park."
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority, also known as the T, will operate shuttles from the TRE's CentrePort-DFW Airport Station to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
"Our employees will be working at a time when they normally wouldn't be working," T Senior Vice President Nancy Amos said, adding that much of the money will pay employees' salaries.
Tow truck patrol
Some of the money will pay for on-call tow trucks to patrol Interstate 30, clean up any crashes or stalled cars and ensure that the highway stays open. Dallas Area Rapid Transit will also operate a high-occupancy-vehicle managed lane on I-30, from near downtown Dallas to Baird Farm Road/Legends Way in Arlington.
The transportation council is the congressionally recognized planning body for Dallas-Fort Worth, and one of its key roles is to help cities and counties spend federal grants for transportation, air quality and other programs. The council also controls some of its own funds and can spend them at the discretion of its 43-member body.
Council members said the expenditures would be worthwhile to maintain North Texas' good reputation for hosting major events.
"If we get this thing right this go-around, the future is ours," said council member Bernice Washington, who is also on the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport board.
A four-day pass, good Thursday through Sunday of Super Bowl week, will cost $30, and a pass good only on game day will cost $20.
Host Committee officials plan to meet with regional planners, perhaps as soon as today, to go over details of precisely what services could be covered with transportation council funds, committee spokesman Tony Fay said.
In June, planners called off a proposal to run a commuter rail line similar to the TRE on Union Pacific Railroad tracks linking Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas because they felt that the cost of liability insurance outweighed the benefit to the relatively small percentage of patrons using it.
But Morris and others believe that rail and other public transportation will be a crucial option for many Super Bowl attendees, particularly if the weather is bad that week.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796