Michael Morris, director of transportation with the North Central Texas Council of Governments, gave a virtual presentation during the council’s work session on transit needs for the city as well as the possibility of passenger rail service from Irving’s Las Colinas area to Frisco and beyond.
Morris said the presentation kicks off discussion so that Frisco leaders can start thinking about how they would like to proceed.
“This is the beginning of a conversation,” Morris said.
The region is adding about 1 million people every eight years, Morris said. That growth translates into more congestion, which in turn affects safety, emission levels and business attraction, among other things, he said.
Morris told council members that because Frisco is mostly built out, it would be suited for demand-response, fixed-route and premium bus options. This type of non-rail system could cost about $5 million a year to operate, according to Morris.
A separate study looks at possibly using the existing BNSF railway line to add passenger rail service as part of a regional network. The rail line from Irving could stop in Frisco or extend into Prosper or Celina. Capital costs ranged from $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion with annual operating costs estimated to be between $18.1 million and $24.3 million. Frisco’s share of that annual cost could be between $6.9 million-$8.8 million, according to the presentation.
Morris said Frisco could gauge interest in rail options before investing a lot of money by testing passenger rail service during special events.
Regional officials are looking for some direction from Frisco about its future interests in transit. Frisco leaders could also choose to do nothing with the findings and allow the regional council to shift its attention to other communities.
“You would grow into this,” Morris said of the findings from the transit studies. “This is not the system you need tomorrow.”