Friday, November 8, 2013, by Buddy Saunders
Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” So that’s what I did, I and an Opinion Arlington reader who prefers to remain anonymous lest he experience an unkindness from City Hall. For my part, I drove to downtown Ft. Worth on a recent Monday morning. Our friend and his wife made two trips to downtown Ft. Worth, one by car and the other by Arlington’s MAX and the TRE. Both our destinations were in the northern end of downtown, I reporting for jury duty, he visiting Bass Hall.
Here is what he told me.
“Today I decided to go to Bass Hall from Arlington via Public Transportation. I was going to be the first person I know who would “Ride the MAX”!
“I got in my car and drove from my North Arlington home to the corner of Center and Border where I parked for free in the clearly marked lot and waited for the bus to leave.
12 minutes by car to MAX parking
06 minutes wait for bus
21 minutes to TRE
15 minutes wait for train
24 minutes to Fort Worth downtown Intermodal Transportation Center
10 minute walk to beautiful Bass Hall
88 minutes one way via mass transit
“Elapsed time 88 minutes. Not too bad, except for the inconvenient truth that at the exact same time the day before, I left my house and drove straight to Bass Hall in 18 minutes, burning less than one gallon of $2.99 gas.
“Our Mayor, City Council, and Chamber of Commerce proudly declare that Arlington is no longer “The Biggest City in the USA without Public Transit.”
“Great. Now can they proudly and honestly tell everyone how many real Arlington taxpayers will actually use this overpriced example of wasteful big government spending?
“The MAX is a very nice shuttle service for UTA students. They were 90% of the passengers I saw load and unload from 4 different buses over 2 days. The official average load is said to be 7 passengers which matches my observations. The 8 loads I saw ranged from 3 to 11 riders. Everyone seemed to enjoy the clean, on time buses, and the cheap, pleasant ride.
“So, why can’t the University pay for it? They could hire a private van service or use smaller buses for way less than the $700,000 being spent per year. Why should thousands of hard working, mostly middle class Arlington taxpayers pay for buses they will never use?
“Why can’t our politicians understand that Public Transit is bankrupting many other cities, and that more apartment density will only lead to future decay, and that their bike lane plans are just plain dumb?
“Why don’t they admit that our greatest strength is our self-reliant population of citizens who have had—three times now at the ballot box—to say no to these foolish and wasteful mass transit schemes?”
Unlike the writer here who tried MAX as a favor to Opinion Arlington, I’ve not ridden MAX. Why didn’t I consider it when I had jury duty? The simple answer is time. Like the writer above, I found travel by car inexpensive, comfortable, convenient, and MUCH faster. After an 18 minute drive (the same as my friend), I parked in the southern part of downtown for $3 (all day). I then walked about 10 minutes to the court house (not far from Bass Hall). Total time to destination 28 minutes. By parking close in as my friend did, I could have matched his 18 minute transit total, but I try to walk two miles daily. By out-parking, I got some exercise and shaved parking cost to $3.
Cost for both of us by car was the same as the MAX ticket, but my friend saved 70 minutes by not picking mass transit, and I saved 10 minutes less only because I elected to walk (a thing I’ll do if government doesn’t order me to do so).
But transit cost by car and MAX is far from a wash. It may seem so to the fiscally illiterate, but anyone who has fingers to count on and common sense understands that taxpayers are picking up an additional hefty tab and always will in any mass transit scheme.
For the reasons cited above, cars are here to stay, even as mass transit schemes remain a tax sinkhole.
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You’ll find the most recent MAX service update here. Check it out! We’re doing our bit to push ridership up to 126 people per day. The current 125 per day ridership may not sound like much, but heck, it sure beats the 6 sign ups Obama got on the first day Obama Care rolled out.