By GORDON DICKSON
FORT WORTH — Relief is on the way for Dallas Cowboys fans who don’t want to pay up to $75 for parking near the team’s new stadium in Arlington.
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority will provide shuttle buses from downtown Fort Worth to Cowboys Stadium for each regular season game, beginning with the Sept. 20 home opener against the New York Giants.
The new Cowboy Coaches service will cost just $5 per person, plus an optional $5-per-vehicle fee for those who wish to park at the T&P Station lot, where the buses will depart.
"We should get you out to the game in plenty time to see the stadium, have a hot dog or whatever, before kickoff," said T president Dick Ruddell, who plans to formally announce the service this morning during a Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition meeting in Fort Worth. "It’s just a good, fun thing to do."
The T and the Cowboys have been negotiating details of the service for several weeks.
The Cowboys are allowing the T to park its buses for free at Lot 15, Ruddell said. Bus spots there are normally $75 — the same price that private vehicles pay for about 12,000 parking spots close to the stadium.
The T expects to cover its operating costs if about 350 vehicles park at the T&P lot, Ruddell said. That many vehicles would probably carry about 1,000 people — or a little more than 1 percent of the total crowd expected for the Cowboys-Giants game.
Cowboys officials have said that, while they support efforts to bring fans to games with public transportation, perhaps someday even by commuter rail, they expect the overwhelming majority will continue to arrive by car.
Still, extra T drivers will be on call in case an unexpectedly large number of fans wants to take advantage of the bus service, Ruddell said. "We’re just going to have to try it and see," he said.
The T also offers a similar Victory Express shuttle service to major NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway. That service is $10 roundtrip.
But in Arlington, the T already offers weekday park-and-ride service from Arlington to downtown Fort Worth — and since that service is available for $5 a day, it seemed fair to charge the same amount for service to Cowboys games, Ruddell said.
To use the Cowboy Coaches Drive to the T&P Station, 221 W. Lancaster Ave. in downtown Fort Worth, and pay a $5 parking fee. Or, park at one of many curbside, metered spots in south downtown — free at night and on weekends — and walk to the station.
Pay $5 per person and board one of the specially marked Cowboy Coaches.
For the first game, which starts at 7:15 p.m., buses will depart Fort Worth from about 5 to 5:45 p.m., as they fill up. Riders will disembark at Lot 15, along Randol Mill Road, and walk about 900 feet to Cowboys Stadium’s west entrance. Officers will help pedestrians cross Collins Street.
Buses will remain at Lot 15 during the game, then return to Fort Worth about an hour after the game ends.
Source: Fort Worth Transportation Authority