Face Time: Mike Brennan

The Near Southside planning director goes car-light, getting around on bike, foot, Uber and train. But how best to get to our offices?

It went without saying that Mike Brennan’s plan to get to an interview at the West Fort Worth offices of FW Inc. was going to be a challenge.

Brennan, planning director for the economic development nonprofit, Near Southside, Inc., went “car-light” early in 2016 after he and his wife lost one of their cars to hail, getting around on bike, bike share, bus, train, and Uber.

Brennan arrived on his 1989 Trek 950 mountain bike, with rack, bags, lights, fenders, comfortable grips and Brooks saddle, lock, and bottle cage.

Home for lunch in his Mistletoe Heights neighborhood, he rode a trail to the Trinity River, crossed the miniature train bridge, rode through Trinity Park to West Seventh Street, caught the No. 2 Camp Bowie bus, and took that to a stop near our office — 40 minutes.

“Thousands of people do this every day,” he says. For him, “it’s more fun, it saves money, and it’s more of an experience than hopping in a car.”

Brennan's office is less than a mile from where he lives, and across Interstate 30 from downtown and Fort Worth City Hall, where he spends a lot of time. There are limits. “I live and work in one of those areas that has good transit service,” he says. “Figuring out if I could regularly use bus service to get to meetings was the challenge.”

Brennan uses the NextBus and GoPass apps. NextBus shows the number of minutes to the next bus. Users buy day passes on GoPass; the T’s cost $3.50.

Brennan’s typical downtown trip: Catch the No. 6 near his office, ride downtown, and take a BCycle bike-share to City Hall.

His employer reimburses for mileage and parking: $2.50 for the five-mile roundtrip, $2.50 for parking. “I was curious if I was saving money.” If a bus trip will take an hour and transfer, he uses Uber. Another strategy: Carpooling.

“We could do a much better job with the frequency of bus and train service and hours,” he says. “If you want a system where people don’t have to consider schedules, 15 minutes is the absolute maximum between buses." The T's No. 1 North Main and No. 2 meet that; expanded service is in the new master plan.

A car-share network would be a plus, he says. Zipcar rents by the hour with DFW universities.

In some U.S. cities, apartment developers are paring parking costs — and rents — by offering passes to car share, public transit and bike share. Fort Worth could test that with a small development, he says. “I think we have those ingredients in a very small section of our city.”