Mola Lenghi, NBC 5 Arlington Reporter
Arlington's new bus line has begun limited service today. The service called MAX is a two-year experiment with the city, the University of Texas at Arlington and various businesses splitting the $700,000 cost.
Arlington, long known as the largest city in the United States without any public transportation, now no longer has that distinction thanks to the Metro Arlington Xpress, or MAX, pilot program.
With seven passengers aboard, a MAX bus departed Arlington's single stop, dubbed College Park. The stop, located at the corner of Border and Center streets on the campus of the University of Texas at Arlington, headed out on its first run to the CentrePort station in Fort Worth at 5:35 a.m.
The bus ride between the College Park stop and the CentrePort station takes a little more than 20 minutes. Once there, riders can board trains headed toward Dallas or Fort Worth or hop on a DART bus and get to nearby Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
One roundtrip ticket between College Park and CentrePort costs $5, but it’s cheaper for students. A monthly pass is $80. Buses between the stations will make nearly three dozen trips daily (See a schedule here) where the
Many of the riders Monday said they were using the bus to get to work or to go to job interviews.
Randall Tyykila is interviewing for a teaching job in Dallas, and hopped on the bus to hand off his resume and paperwork. He said he’s thankful Arlington finally has public transportation.
“It would be a very inexpensive way for me to get to and from work,” Tyykila said. “I drive an SUV but that just eats up gas.”
Tyykila, who already bought the monthly pass, said gassing up his SUV and driving to Dallas costs him about $200 a month.
David Harding spent the weekend partying with friends who live in Arlington, and needed a cheap, easy ride back to Dallas.
“I’m also a supporter of public transportation, I think it’s the way forward for Arlington,” Harding said. “It’s a positive development. It’s a modest, but very necessary, and useful first step.”
"This is a new opportunity for the city and the region that hasn't been out there before," said Alicia Winkelblech, city planning manager. "Instead of sitting in traffic, you can be on the bus, the TRE. Then getting on the bus, you can drink your coffee, relax, not stress about your commute, read a book, work on your laptop."
The MAX includes three buses, two that will run regularly and be equipped with Wi-Fi. The buses are provided in a tri-party deal by the Fort Worth's T and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
The city, with nearly 400,000 residents, is already talking about expanding the route from its current plan of two stops -- downtown Arlington and the CentrePort Trinity Railway Express station -- to include Arlington's entertainment district which includes Rangers Ballpark, AT&T Stadium, Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor.
Future transit plans have not yet been determined but are expected to be finalized by November.
"It is a flexible service, and we recognize that as a pilot project and as a service that the city has never done before," Winkelblech said. "We may need to be making tweaks along the way."