If there’s anything more frustrating than the Rangers’ performance so far this year, it’s been how few games I have actually been able to make so far. The biggest reason: Being unable to afford parking in addition to tickets.
For years I was lucky to live within just a couple miles of the ballpark, meaning I could make the trip on my bicycle with ease. Now, having to stay on the other side of town, I have no choice but to drive – meaning that with parking fees and gas, it simply isn’t affordable anymore. I know I’m not alone in this – especially given how many people here don’t even live in Arlington at all.
The really sad thing is that a new option was given to Arlington that could have opened things up for many more potential fans – if they hadn’t screwed it up so royally.
It was little less than a year ago that Arlington finally crawled out of the dark ages and agreed to a temporary partnership with DART in creating the MAX bus line. I was ecstatic when this came to be in August 2013. Nearly a year into the experiment – it’s almost painful to see how poorly it was set up, how little it actually serves the people and how it ultimately will doom the city’s chances of actually linking to the Metroplex full-time.
The MAX line is technically meant to link UTA with Dallas County and as much of the rest of the Metroplex as possible via the Trinity Railway Express station at CentrePort. In November, a midway stop was added that, on the surface, appeared to serve people coming to Arlington’s entertainment district and Lincoln Square.
What we got was a redesigned route with the addition of the extra stop that is so poorly planned that it just screams of being set up to fail from the beginning.
First, the midway stop is not adjacent to Globe Life Park, AT&T Stadium or any other place in the entertainment district at all. It’s not even in Lincoln Square. It’s next to one small strip mall on Collins Street about a block south of Lincoln Square, providing no easy access to anything that attracts traffic in North Arlington.
What’s worse, the route is now a loop – from CentrePort down Trinity and Collins to the downtown area and then back up to CentrePort via Division and 360 (or vice versa depending on the time of day). The midway stop is only driven by during the bus’ trip from CentrePort to UTA or the other way.
Also, service is Monday-Friday only. Granted, the TRE still does not run on Sunday, but the eventual completion of the Orange light rail line to DFW Airport in December will help alleviate that inconvenience.
It also doesn’t help that there do not appear to be any plans to extend the service in anyway, in a story The Shorthorn did on the MAX line, one big lament among students interviewed is that they cannot use the bus to travel to The shopping district with The Parks Mall or the Highlands.
In other words, there are probably more people on the Rangers’ disabled list than there are people that benefit from the line in its current format. And among those getting gypped are Rangers fans (and yes, possibly even Cowboys fans) that could benefit greatly from the easy access without forking over at least 20 (or 50) dollars in cash.
A better route for the MAX would have been as follows: A single path from CentrePort down 360 to Randol Mill, with the midway stop being near one or more of the stadiums, then Randol Mill and Center to the UTA stop. Then take the trip back to CentrePort with the same path in reverse (substituting Mesquite for Center since it’s one-way). To improve service further, the first stop should be at the airport (directly connecting to where the Orange line’s final stop will be) and then sopping at CentrePort. The line could then eventually be extended to go on past UTA to the shopping district.
Oh, and add Saturday/Sunday service as well.
I really don’t want to think that DART and the cities involved settled on this mess of a route to appease Jerry Jones, Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, who saw the line as a threat to their ability to soak their patrons in parking revenue. (Jerry once led an initiative to try and get Irving to pull out of DART; no info on what Ray & Bob might think.) But my gut tells me that just might be part of the issue, hence why the line had to wait a few months after the original launch while DART figured out what they could run.
How many potential Rangers fans could have been served with a better planned bus line? Sadly, we may never know.
The MAX line is contractually obligated to still run for anther year after August, at which point the city will have to decide whether to join DART full time, which will have to include some form of tax levy.
Chances are good something like that will not pass. Anti-transit pundits will shoot everything down and point out how little people used the MAX – even though a better planned route would have certainly meant more riders. And Arlington will cut off from the rest of the Metroplex again from everyone except the shrinking number of people who can afford personal vehicles.
Meanwhile, anyone in the mid-cities, especially Arlington, will be forced to keep paying skyrocketing gas prices they can’t afford to get anywhere in town. And adding parking fees that keep some of us from attending as many games as we otherwise could.