Friday, March 11, 2016, by Richard Weber, Publisher of the Arlington Spectator
All of the Arlington City Council Candidates were asked to answer this question:
The MAX has been a failure. With a goal of 300-500 daily riders, it has never had a month where it averaged the midpoint. The numbers for calendar 2015 compared to calendar year 2014 are down. What are your thoughts on the MAX deal and other forms of public transportation?
Charlie Parker, incumbent District 1:
First of all, I have to say that not everyone is able to get to where they need to go. Not all people are as fortunate as most, with their own private cars. The elderly, the impaired, and others are very challenged in moving around our city. So there is a need. Super Bowl committees, NCAA committees etc. have noticed that Arlington has no mass transit, and it is their opinion that this is needed. So not having some sort of mass transit is a knock on our city. Since there is a need the situation must be dealt with in some form. The question that you posed is about the MAX specifically. The MAX has proven in my estimation not to be the solution to this problem. Other forms of transportation must be considered.
The funding for the MAX was as follows:
The first year was funded by the City $350k, UTA $230k and the Chamber $120k for a total of $700k.
The second year was funded totally by the North Texas Council of Governments through Job Access Reserve Commute (JARC) funds, $700k.
The third year was funded $187.5K by the city and $187.5k by UTA and the rest by JARC funds.
Ridership has averaged 272 trips a day for the three years in question. If the MAX was going to be successful it had to become self-sufficient. This would have required an average ridership of approximately 500 trips per day was needed. This didn’t happen and therefore the MAX has failed and should be terminated in my opinion. I will not support the MAX in the future. But this still does not answer the question of what should be done to solve the movement of the less fortunate and the visitors in our city.
Kelly Canon, challenger District 1
I was never in favor of the MAX deal, and strongly voiced my opposition at its inception. It began as a 2-year “pilot” program, and has been a drain on our economy ever since, as ALL mass transit programs are, throughout the country. The MAX program represents the city council’s insatiable urge to provide mass transit to a city that voted down such nonsense three separate times over the last two decades. Each election reflected a stronger opposition from the last.
Some critics may say that Arlington is “behind the curve” with the absence of mass transit, but I’d like to look at it as Arlington having some of the smartest voters in the country! The city should be looking at promoting private sector transit solutions without government subsidies. Charitable organizations can fill this void, as well as non-traditional private services, like “Uber” and “Lyft”. Also, the larger businesses can offer shuttle services for their employees, and also for transportation to/from private or public functions and events. Bottom line: The private sector is much more effective at providing public transportation, and should be encouraged to do so.
Daniel Wojcik, former candidate District 7
Due to an unforeseen personal issue, I have withdrawn from the race.
Victoria Farrar-Myers, candidate District
The MAX has not been a successful experiment and should be discontinued. The original proposal would have used Dan Dipert buses and would have been totally free to riders. The current configuration uses Dart Buses because Dart said they would not allow the use of Dipert Buses. DART is eager to get Arlington to join their system, and sees our city as a revenue source for their own advancement.
Chris Dobson, candidate District 7
The Arlington Max fails as a meaningful form of mass transit due to its anemic nature. Without weekend or late night service it fails to provide an option for those riders whom would use it for purposes other than simple commuting. However this is not an endorsement of bussing but simply a reflection of the system imposed. A far better system for mass transit can and should be achieved by collecting data from all citizens and residents of Arlington in order to better tailor the forms and routes of this important civic function.
Candidates refusing to respond: Sheri Capehart and Robert Shepard.
Richard Weber, publisher of the Arlington Spectator, is that rare citizen who devotes time to civic duty and involvement. For doing so, he receives little thanks. Most citizens have more important things on their minds—TV, football, enjoying their retirement, etc. Not Richard. You’ll find him at City Council afternoon and evening sessions, at school board meetings, publishing Arlington Spectator, and helming AARG (Arlington Alliance for Responsible Government). Richard is not welcome at Mayor Cluck’s City Hall, where every effort is made to muzzle Richard and any other citizen who believes taxpayers should have a voice in government. Richard’s selfless effort is one of the things that inspired us to begin publishing Opinion Arlington.