Five years ago, no one in Fort Worth was thinking much about public transportation, particularly an inner-city streetcar system. Real estate developers, assuming that only poor people used mass transit, didn’t want any lines or stops near their properties.

But times have changed here in Cowtown. Rising gas prices, traffic gridlock, and concern over air quality have caused North Texas political and business leaders to reassess their attitudes toward public transportation. And the key change has come from those same real estate developers, who have seen mass-transit rail lines spur development in other cities and now want a ticket for that gravy train.

For the past few years, Fort Worth has been studying how a modern streetcar system here could help the city improve its transportation picture. A city council-appointed committee recommended last December that Fort Worth invest in several streetcar lines linking downtown with the Cultural District and Near South Side, with more to be added if those lines prove successful.

Many people have regarded such rail plans as little more than a pipe dream that, in the best-case scenario, might be up and running in 10 years. But the reality is that the streetcar system has been put on the fast track, pun intended, and in the coming months, final plans and funding mechanisms will be developed.

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