Why Doesn't Arlington, TX Have Public Transportation

I read in the Wikipedia that the nation’s 50th biggest city Arlington Texas is also the largest city in the USA without public transportation.

So my question is to the Texans, why is it that Arlington doesn’t want public trans. Is it to keep the poor people out? :slight_smile:

No, it’s because getting stuck behind a bus is so goddamn annoying.

Actually I have no idea. I live in San Antonio and we have buses approximately every 2.4 feet. Half of which are empty. All of which stop in front of me every 2.6 feet.

Just some WAGs here…

I live in a suburb north of Dallas with no public transportation. One of the big reasons we’ve never done it is taxes–state law mandates a maximum sales tax, which we (and pretty much every other city) are at. If we joined the Dallas area transit system, they’d take 1% of sales tax to pay for it, which means the city would not have that 1% any more, and they’d have to raise other taxes to compensate. That’s a tough sell without a ridiculously obvious benefit–and I believe Arlington is still paying for the new Cowboys stadium.

This is Texas, where everyone has cars and the flat land absolutely encourages suburban sprawl. Effective public transportation is difficult in those cases.

Arlington is inbetween Dallas and Ft Worth, each of which has their own transit system. So if Arlington wanted to put in something, they could create their own, which wouldn’t help the multitudes of people coming in from or going out to the rest of the Metroplex, or they could try to join one, leaving the people going to the other out, or they could somehow try and joing in with both, which is probably a bit of a logistical nightmare.

Pretty much everything that dzeiger said. Plus, I think, it’s regarded as unTexan to use public transportation. It seems that every other vehicle is a truck or SUV, whether the driver ever gets out of the city and onto the back roads or not.

I think that the biggest hindrance to public transportation in the Metroplex (the conglomeration of Dallas, Fort Worth, and all the smaller cities between and around us) is that everything is sprawled out. It seems that I live at least half an hour from wherever I want to be…whether it’s north, south, east, west, or any other direction.

What the others said.

My mother and much of that side of our family live in the Dallas area. This isn’t Manhattan or San Francisco we are talking about. The entire metropolitan area is gigantic and almost completely dependent on cars. There is no way to build public transportation routes that would be useful to a significant number of people.

I just had a look at the area on Google Maps. It’s pretty horrifying how much low-density car-dependent sprawl there is. One of these days, Americans are going to realise that America isn’t quite the vast endless space they think it is, because it’s all been covered with badly planned suburbs.

If Arlington was a separate city rather than a giant suburb between Dallas and Ft. Worth, I’m sure the city would have some sort of a bus system. Arlington certainly isn’t a super snooty burb that doesn’t want public transit to keep ‘those’ people out.

I will point out that the Trinity Railway Express isn’t far from Arlington and there are park and ride available at their stops. You can easily use the TRE to get into Dallas or Ft. Worth.

Dallas actually has the best public transit in Texas. DART just opened a new light rail line.

There’s also pressure in any community in the D/FW Metroplex to “link” public transportation. Arlington would face pressure to integrate theirs with Fort Worth, at the least, which again increases the overhead and hassle. I’m originally from a smaller community just outside Fort Worth, that tried outsourcing public transportation from Fort Worth directly. It wound up too expensive, and the heavy buses tore up our small town streets.

Orlando is the 27th-largest city in the nation and an almost laughably poor bus service… that is constantly winning awards from public transport groups. America just doesn’t know how to do public transportation properly, and frankly I don’t find it surprising that Arlington doesn’t bother.

The few (three or four) times it would have been handy to take a bus somewhere in town, I invariably found that no bus went within three miles of my departure point or destination, or that it would have required three bus changes and four hours to travel six miles, or the like.

Arlington probably hears the horror stories of the public transportation nightmares Austin has tried to initiate and thought it better to avoid the hassle.

In many areas the perception is that only poor people ride buses. So even if the system is run well people who are not poor don’t want to ride the bus.

IMHO this is perpetuated because only people who are quite desperate will put up with riding the bus; because of the urban sprawl that has already been mentioned, if you want to get more than a few blocks on a city bus here, it will take you such a long time it becomes rather pointless. Who has 3 hours to get 4 transfers to go a distance that would take 20 minutes max by car?

It just isn’t practical. So unless you live quite, quite close to everywhere you want to go–which just isn’t really likely–you are going to do whatever you can to avoid public transit.

Which means, sadly enough, that only people who simply cannot afford a car are the ones riding the largely empty buses here.

Which also means that yes, there is kind of a stigma to doing so.

I would like to ride a bus to work now and then but as you say, it simply would take me too long because of transfers. Why spend an hour or more on a bus vs. 20 minutes in my car?

We had a surge in bus riders when gas hit $4 a gallon but most of those people went back to their cars when gas went back down.

I agree, and this is the sad part, DART is the best of a bad lot, and it’s still pretty bad. They have a huge area to cover, low ridership, and crappy schedules. For example, for my wife and I to go to a local show, from the nearest park and ride, it’s about an hour and fifteen minutes by DART. It’s eighteen minutes by car. And that assumes there is even service at the time we need. The trains stop running not long after the show lets out(or right about the time), so we could end up stranded. Not as likely right now because the fair is running and the trains are on an extended schedule, but non fair times, yes, we’d be taking the last train of the night and if the show ran a little late, we’d be calling a cab.

What’s it like for my daily commute? It’s twenty minutes by car, and at least forty-eight minutes by bus, with a mile of walking thrown in. So figure another ten to twelve minutes for walking. Over three times as long, and I don’t work in an out of the way place(right by DFW airport) so there are lots of lines which run this way. When I worked in a different area it was seven minutes by car and over 40 minutes by bus. Since most businesses can afford the land to build parking lots and don’t charge for them, driving is a no-brainer. We like to take the train to the zoo with the kids, and we’re excited about the new light rail line coming very close to where we live next year, but even with those improvements, DART is a long way from being a better choice than a personal vehicle.


Walking isn’t just uncomfortable, either. Around here, it gets hot enough to pass out from walking at times. Most healthy people could probably manage to walk a mile or so, but they’d be so sweat sodden that they’d need a shower and change of clothes at their destination. And that’s just not practical.

This was one thing I was reading about. A lot of people argue that this is a very easy way to keep poor people from coming into the community. It’s argued in other cities when companies relocate to suburbs away from the inner city. For instance, when Sears moved out of the Sears Tower, easily accessible to every form of public transit to Hoffman Estates where the buses don’t connect with the main transportation, except through commuter rail (or at least they didn’t at the time)

Many Sears employees couldn’t get to their jobs out there or the commute was way too long so they had to leave.

Don’t ask me. I vote ‘yes’ every time it comes up. :slight_smile:

It really would be hard to build an effective pub trans system to serve this area–everything’s laid out with an expectation that everyone’s got a car. But having no options at all really annoys me … I lived 3/4ths of my life in and/or around Chicago, though, so my expectations may be skewed.

That TRE is awesome. I rode from Richardson to downtown Fort Worth in just under an hour durring the morning rush.

All for $2!

It is a bitter irony, isn’t it? The very days you should be taking public transit to avoid contributing to pollution and ozone alerts are the days you’re encouraged to avoid outdoor activity. So the days when you should leave your car at home are the days it’s not healthy/safe to. I’ve lived close enough to bicycle to work or walk to work and there’s a very narrow window of time in the year where it wouldn’t require showering twice a day to do so. And there are zero days a year when it’s safe to do so because Dallas is about the most bicycle unfriendly city imaginable. It’s not easy being green.