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Friday, October 29, 2010

Arlington, Home of the Rangers, Largest City in U.S. Without Public Transit. Blame the Rangers.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge You won't be riding this to a Rangers game
  • You won't be riding this to a Rangers game
You won't be riding this to a Rangers game
As precarious as riding Muni to Giants games can be, it'll always beat taking public transit to Texas Rangers contests. Because you can't.

Wikipedia readers and others have been bandying about the claim that Arlington -- home to the Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, and, believe it or not, Mensa's U.S. headquarters -- is the largest city in the nation without public transit.

Believe it. It's true.

Both the Dallas Area Rapid Transit and Fort Worth Transportation Authority say that's the case -- and they ought to know. Those cities border Arlington, and pick up for its lack of public transit.

Unlike San Francisco, going for a walk or bike ride may not be a viable option in Arlington, even though, like most of Texas, the city is nice and flat. During much of the year, even able-bodied people could literally drop dead from heatstroke. Showing up at work looking like you've just taken the water ride at Six Flags -- also in Arlington, yes -- is not pleasant.

click to enlarge Arlington voters have not hopped aboard efforts to establish mass transit
  • Arlington voters have not hopped aboard efforts to establish mass transit
Arlington voters have not hopped aboard efforts to establish mass transit
What's a non-driver, biker, or walker to do?

"They have some cab service in Arlington," offers Morgan Lyons, the spokesman for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). "The University of Texas at Arlington has some service available to help some students get to some shopping areas. There is a city-run paratransit service."

As of 2008, Arlington contracted with the Fort Worth Transit Authority (The T) to run buses out of an area parking lot to downtown Fort Worth on weekdays. There are also rail lines jointly operated by DART and "The T" not far from Arlington. But both those stations are actually in Fort Worth.

Those who consider Texas the heart of flyover country may be surprised to learn that Arlington is home to some 380,000 souls; this is not merely the East Rutherford of Texas. On three separate occasions, Arlington voters have turned down proposals to establish a mass transit line. Why would that be? Well, in part, you can blame the Texas Rangers.

In Texas, the state does not contribute any money to metropolitan transit agencies (it does so less and less here in California). Funding comes via a portion of the sales tax. In Texas, the sales tax is capped at 8.25 percent and 6.25 percent must go to the state. So municipalities play with that leftover 2 percent.

Cities typically set aside up to half of that to fund mass transit. But in Arlington, that money was already being used -- to pay off the Rangers' ballpark, and, now, the new billion-dollar Cowboys stadium. You can't ride a bus to the Ballpark in Arlington because the money to pay for it came from what would have been the bus fund, essentially.

San Francisco has earned its reputation as a place that throws money around. But in this case, the truth is counter-intuitive. Here you ride a publicly financed bus or train to a privately financed stadium. In Arlington, you ride in a privately financed car to a publicly financed stadium.

Talk about a curveball.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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