Until recently, Arlington was the largest city in the country without a mass transit system. But this week, Arlington home owners welcomed a new way to move about the city when the MAX, or Metro Arlington Xpress, bus service began. Now, residents in one of the fastest growing cities in the Metroplex can park their cars and use an alternate method of transportation.
It is expected that students at University of Texas at Arlington will be among the more frequent users of the new service. MAX's first route will connect the campus to the entertainment district and the Trinity Railway Express’ CentrePort Station, giving students another way to reach destinations around the Metroplex. Varun Mallipaddi, who serves as the school's student government president, said, “A lot of students are excited, and waiting to find out how much of a benefit it will be. I can’t stress enough the importance of it being a success in the first two years.”
While Arlington home owners have long awaited this kind of city service, the City of Arlington is now caught in a battle of sorts between DART and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority regarding who will ultimately own the service. It's unclear whether or not Arlington will actually merge with one of the larger mass transit systems, but the possibility is very real. Both DART and the T are interested in creating a single, region-wide transit authority that would cover the area's bus and rail system.
Fort Worth Councilman Jungus Jordan is believes that it is in everyone’s best interest to create a single transit agency that would make decisions collectively about how to connect the cities and counties. He said, “I would like a single entity building and maintaining the system within 10 years. I think this change is going to be determined through a process of osmosis. As we’ve grown, cooperation has become more and more important, particularly for mobility.”
Whoever ends up with Arlington's bus service will dramatically change the way North Texas bus and rail service look for the next several decades. But experts say that Arlington could bow out of an alignment with one of the bigger transit agencies and form their own, doing away with the limited power that comes with joining someone else. Of course, this all comes at a price.
DART board Chairman John Danish said, “There is a vigorous political challenge for how to arrive at a fair governing process. For 10 years it has been discussed in the Legislature.” But other local political leaders are lobbying for the creation of something larger and farther reaching.
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