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Know Your Candidates: MAX and Mass Transit

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?

 

The responses:

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.

3 Responses to Know Your Candidates: MAX and Mass Transit

  1. daniel melendez

    March 19, 2016 at 8:46 am

    PS, don’t forget the high speed rail that’s passing straight through DFW, Arlington you would think would’ve gotten on it’s destination route but for the exception, we don’t have public transportation.

  2. daniel melendez

    March 19, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Unfortunately the MAX was setup/destined to fail with the way it was proposed and implemented. The council and mayor couldn’t see it for the red in their eyes from the citizens (the less than 10% voting citizens) voted down public transportation in the past. And Ms. Cannon public transportation isn’t failing everywhere. Not only that just because public transportation in general has failed in many places, remember, we are Arlington Texas, better than any other place, good lets devise a public transportation system to rival the nation, and the world. And why wold DART have any say on who or how Arlington decides what type of buses or public transportation Arlington uses. Remember we’re better than Dallas, and Ft Worth.

  3. Arlington Spectator

    March 12, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    I am sorry to see that Mr. Wojcik has decided to drop out of the District 7 race. He was at a recent city council afternoon session, at least giving the impression of learning and caring.

    I am glad to see that Mr. Parker has come to his senses and is now against MAX, but he could have voted against it this past summer. His concern of how people are to get around is a valid concern, however, the MAX was originally defined as a two-year “PILOT” project/program, and there should have been no guilt in terminating the failure.

    Mr. Parker is correct that the city has had other partners-in-crime keeping the city from carrying the full costs of the failure.

    Ms. Canon was opposed to the MAX at its inception. She also suggests that Arlington voters should take pride in being smart for turning it down (and probably for what is often tossed around, being the largest city without public mass transportation).

    The Dr. Farrar-Myers response shows that she is getting some coaching. I have often suspected, and could not get city officials to admit, that the reason MAX is not done with Dipert buses was DART would not allow it [or was going to charge some outrageous fee]. This information was never presented at an open city council meeting. At open council meetings, council members were presented with some advantages/disadvantages of going with a public carrier vs. a private carrier told the cost was roughly the same. Based on that presentation they chose the public carrier.

    Yes, the original City of Arlington plan was for free-to-the-public buses.

    What this really shows is the ineffective way the city negotiates. The city needs lessons from Donald Trump. The city wanted to run free buses to bring people to/from DART, and the lets DART dictate that they may not do so. How about letting the Dallas Morning News, the “green” people, and all the taxpayers of Dallas County know that DART is refusing to allow Arlington to bring DART more business for absolutely no cost to them. Instead the city agrees to do business with DART, being charged for a grossly overpriced service (which DART of course keeps all the fares also).

    Remember the talk that after two years, Arlington would have to join. DART would like that, but the current contract is SO lopsided, they were not going to turn down the third year.

    In regards to the Chris Dobson response, yes there is no weekend service, but there is late night service. More service requires more money. The most efficient use of money is going to be supplying transportation during commuting hours.

    Also note how the two incumbent council members without challengers refused to answer the question…

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