Dallas transit agency discovers Arlington

Posted Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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All of a sudden, the folks over at Dallas Area Rapid Transit are looking at Arlington like it's the promised land of mass transit.

Good luck with that.

Seriously, if DART has what it takes to dislodge Arlington, population somewhere around 375,000, from its long-held position as the largest city in America without a public transportation system, more power to them.

Maybe it is time to test the city's transit resistance again.

DART and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, the T, see an opening: Arlington leaders want to set up a bus shuttle between the downtown/UT Arlington area and the Trinity Railway Express station at CentrePort, just south of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

The two transit agencies want to team up to provide that service for $700,000 a year, Star-Telegram transportation writer Gordon Dickson reported Monday.

That's a new policy for DART, offering its transportation services by contract rather than only serving member cities that give the transit agency their proceeds from a 1-cent sales tax. The T has offered contract transportation services for several years now, and even had express buses from Arlington to downtown Fort Worth for a while (but there wasn't enough demand to sustain it).

If DART can make inroads in Arlington -- and maybe its top-notch network of trains, buses and light rail in Dallas will prove to be an effective lure -- it could be a very rewarding growth opportunity.

The city has a solid sales tax base, evidenced by its quickly paying off bonds for the Rangers Ballpark and its current fast track toward paying off its share of Cowboys Stadium.

And maybe the time will be right when the stadium debt is paid to shift that money to use in getting people to and from and around Arlington. A commuter rail line running between Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth surely is in the offing at some point.

History is not encouraging. Mass transit elections failed in Arlington in 1979, 1985 and 2002. The last one was a real thumping, with 57 percent of the vote opposed even after opinion polling had shown solid support and proponents spent almost $90,000 on a campaign to get it passed.

Best wishes to the people at DART on this. Maybe they know something others have missed.

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