Arlington’s‘uber’ ambitious plan for public transit

The Max bus (short for Metro Arlington Express) at its stop on Center Street at the college campus.
The Max bus (short for Metro Arlington Express) at its stop on Center Street at the college campus. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

Let’s try a little word association.

We say public transit. You say... lacking, weak, inadequate?

Any of those words would accurately describe the state of public transportation in the DFW area, but they ring especially true for Arlington.

No more, says Arlington’s Transportation Advisory Committee.

The 31-member body formed in 2016 and released its first report last month.

At only 12 pages, the document reads more like a lofty outline or an optimistic wish list, making general recommendations to guide the City Council in funding and operational decisions that will “help shape the future of transportation in the city of Arlington.”

Future is the operative word, here, since many of the committee’s suggestions involve novelties like autonomous vehicles, personal rapid transit and, borrowing the concept from Uber and Lyft, on-demand transport. There’s even a shout-out to high-speed rail, which is still only a glimmer in the eyes of North Texans.

Costs are not addressed, except the acknowledgment that cost-effective transportation should be a guiding principal.

While the report authors do see a need for circulators or high-intensity bus service in certain parts of the city, their focus is largely on innovative technologies.

Indeed. There is lots that is happening in the world of transit, so it’s good that the city is thinking ahead and open to new technologies — especially when those technologies can meet public needs and save the city money.

But given Arlington’s reticence toward mass transportation, we’re not uber-confident — pun intended — that residents are going to support mass transit. It will be a tough sell.

The committee’s chair, Bill Verkest, is convinced. He says residents want something different than buses running all over town.

We hope that means they will embrace new forms of mass transit.

The city will be holding town hall meetings to explain its options and seek public input.

Residents should attend and speak up. And city leaders must make sure they are selling something the residents will want and can afford to buy.