Buses to TRE are a big step forward for Arlington

Posted Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Every step Arlington takes toward connecting to the region's public transportation system is progress.

By August, the city could be running buses between the Trinity Railway Express and stops at the University of Texas at Arlington and downtown.

The two-year pilot project is being funded by the city ($350,000), UTA ($230,000) and the business community through the chamber of commerce ($120,000).

The city may have also secured a federal grant, Jim Parajon, community development and planning director, told City Council members Tuesday.

Parajon noted that this is not the prelude to a citywide transit system but an effort to connect Arlington residents and students with a transportation system that can get them to jobs and to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Putting people into public transit can also remove some vehicles from congested roads and save on parking for commuters.

Arlington's business community must see the economic benefit. If folks can use the connection to get to Fort Worth and Dallas, residents of those cities can use it to come work and play in Arlington's increasingly inviting downtown or in UTA's College Park District.

The next step is for Arlington to decide who can best run the project.

Council members generally favored a public entity -- the T in Fort Worth or Dallas Area Rapid Transit -- that could collect fares and integrate Arlington's service into existing marketing and trip-planning tools.

Some details, such as stops, haven't been worked out. But the initial plan is to operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, running vehicles to the TRE's CentrePort station south of the airport every 30 minutes during peak morning and evening times and hourly the rest of the day.

City planners anticipate 300 to 600 riders a day, but a lot will depend on how reliable the service is, where stops are and how well it is promoted.

A successful service will be dependable and make good connections with the TRE. Planners should consider a park-and-ride lot for residents who don't live near central Arlington but want the benefit of being able to commute by transit.

With the region's transit options expanding, Arlington must be on board.

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