FORT WORTH — The Fort Worth Transportation Authority on Monday approved bus service to Arlington as a two-year pilot project and also lowered fares for college students.The T board’s action was the final approval needed for the Metropolitan ArlingtonXpress — or MAX — which is scheduled to begin service Aug. 19. MAX buses will run from the Trinity Railway Express’ CentrePort station to the University of Texas at Arlington and the city’s downtown area.Dallas Area Rapid Transit, which will operate the buses beginning Aug. 19, and the Arlington City Council had already approved the two-year experiment, which will cost $700,000 per year.Arlington City Councilwoman Kathryn Wilemon, who also chairs the Regional Transportation Council, told T board members that the MAX buses would play an important role in improving regional connections in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.“We’ll have a seamless regional connection one day. I hope to see that day,” Wilemon said. “There are a lot of turns to get to that day, and this is one of them.”The cost of MAX is being shared by the city, UT Arlington and the city’s business community.“It’s a nice broad base of support from the Arlington community,” said Nancy Amos, T senior executive vice president.Although DART will operate the Arlington buses, the vehicles will sport decals of both agencies. The T runs the CentrePort train station and will be responsible for creating a stop for the Arlington buses.Reduced college faresIn a separate action, T board members reduced fares for college students — a move that likely will take effect in August or September, around the time the fall semester begins at many campuses.Some board members were surprised to learn that college students weren’t eligible for reduced fares.“I thought this was already done,” said T board member Neftali Ortiz.The T traditionally offered its reduced fares to children ages 5-18, as well as seniors and people with disabilities.T board member Andre McEwing requested that the T staff look into the issue, Amos said. Tarrant County College also asked for an evaluation of reduced fares.The reduced fares would be good for students at TCC, Texas Wesleyan University, UT Arlington and other universities. It would also apply to students of area trade schools.TCU already has an arrangement with the T to provide bus service at its campus.Students would need to present a student identification at the T offices and pay $2 for a reduced fare card, which they could be asked to produce upon request while boarding buses or the TRE in Tarrant County.The savings could be substantial. For example, a day pass to ride TRE and all T and DART buses is $10 for full-fare customers, but $2.50 for those qualifying for reduces fares.T officials expect any reduction in fare payments made by college students to be offset by a higher number of students riding transit, Amos said.Both the Arlington bus service and the change in the T’s reduced fare policy were approved unanimously.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796 Twitter: @gdickson