Arlington, Texas is the most populous city in the U.S. without a public transportation system. But the town of 375,000 people just launched a temporary bus service as of August 19th, according to the Dallas News.
The pilot project, dubbed Metro Arlington Express (MAX), is expected to run over the next two years between the University of Texas at Arlington campus and a commuter rail station in a business park just south of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
The system offers 18 departures between 5:35 am and 9:41 pm as well as free Wi-Fi. Five dollars will buy you an all day pass.
Arlington is a major town located 12 miles from Fort Worth and 20 miles from Dallas, meaning the highways that connect the three cities are among the most congested in the world. Because of the hot Texas weather, biking and walking far less popular modes of transportation.
Plus the city’s proximity to two other transit systems add a degree of political difficulty to the local transit situation.
The MAX service is currently a public-private service that’s being funded by the city, local businesses, UTA, and the transit systems of Dallas and Fort Worth.
Wired reports that in Texas, public transit is mostly financed by sales taxes. In addition to the state’s 6.25 per cent state sales tax, towns and cities can charge an additional two percent to fund local initiatives. Many municipalities have used the money for public transit, but Arlington allotted a significant amount of its sales tax dollars to build the local Rangers Ballpark and the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
In order for Arlington to join Dallas’ public transit system, the city would have to dedicate 1 cent of its sales tax to paying for bus service to the tune of $50 million a year — it would cost half of that in order to join Fort Worth’s system.
Because Arlington is so spread out, there’s a good chance the city would likely be spending a large amount of money for a system that would be fairly limited. The transit service already has doubters and voters would have to be convinced that the system would benefit them directly.
Citizens have voted against public transit proposals three times between 1980 and 2013. If voters decide not to pay for public transit and vote against it for the 4th time, the bus service will end by 2015.
Photo: Zach Durland/Flickr