ARLINGTON — For Emmet Sloan Jr., living in the area was a conscious decision.Sloan, who is from Louisiana, decided to live in Garland to be closer to his kids.He also transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington from Southern University at Shreveport because it offers the communication technology degree he wants. What Sloan didn’t actively choose to do was get up at 5:30 each morning to beat the traffic and make it to his 8 a.m. classes on time.But now Sloan, because of the shuttle bus service that started Monday in Arlington, won’t have to spend most of his mornings in his ’96 Chevy.Called the Metro Arlington Xpress, or the MAX, the bus picks up riders at UTA Boulevard and Center Street and drops them off at Trinity Railway Express’ CenterPort Station, where they can take the train to Dallas or Fort Worth and back. Sloan, who was among the first busloads of passengers, said he had opportunities to work in the booming college town and downtown area recently but couldn’t. “I had to turn down a lot of jobs because I couldn’t get here,” Sloan said.Now that the bus system is operating, Sloan said, he’ll buy a monthly pass and ride the MAX its full Monday through Friday schedule.He’ll also get to class quicker and hopes to sleep in.Students and senior citizens receive half off on fare. Regular-price fare is $5 a day, $25 a week or $80 per month. City and university officials hope that the MAX, which is a two-year pilot project, will be so successful — it is projected that 250 people are expected to ride the bus each day — that it will lead to an expanded service.Patreece Dade is a graduate student focusing on a master’s in education, but more importantly she’s mother to Xander Jamil Dade, 4.Dade moved to Arlington eight years ago to attend the university and found it challenging to get outside the city her first two years without a car. Even after she bought one, she still found herself stuck in the city.“There have been times I’ve wanted to go further out somewhere, but I didn’t know if I’d have enough gas,” Dade said.Her desire to explore other local cities is finally going to be satisfied with the affordable fare and convenient rides the MAX provides, she said. Dade said she wants to visit Dallas’ Fair Park and African American Museum, and Fort Worth museums such as the Kimbell Art Museum. “I want to take my son to keep him culturally aware and expose him to different opportunities,” she said. Little Xander added that he’d like to bring toys on the bus his next go-round and go to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, something that could be approaching as soon as city officials implement a third stop in the entertainment district this year. Lincoln Square, AT&T Stadium, Rangers Ballpark and Six Flags over Texas are within the district. “He has never even gone to Six Flags,” Dade said. “I was waiting until he was a bit older, but soon I can take him.”Retired Arlington resident Jerry Lindell and his wife sat looking around enthusiastically on the Monday bus ride. Lindell planned to take his wife to lunch at West End Marketplace in Dallas. “I personally think from the bottom of my heart this will increase attendance to the ballpark, AT&T Stadium and American Airlines Center,” he said.Lindell joked that he also looks forward to using the bus to go to the American Airlines Center and “watch the [Dallas] Stars lose.” This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST