Mola Lenghi, NBC 5 Arlington Reporter
Voters have shot down attempts to bring public transportation to Arlington three times in the past, now the City of Arlington is taking a different approach.
Arlington is investing in a pilot program for a shuttle to and from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Trinity Railway Express station near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
The pilot bus program will take riders to the CentrePort TRE Station, where they can then access the rest of the region.
Previous public transportation pilot programs in the city have fallen short. Arlington, the largest U.S. city without mass transit, has previously shot down measures for public transportation.
But Councilwoman Kathryn Wilemon said the shuttle program is different.
"This is not a citywide bus system," she said. "This is strictly a two-year pilot project to see the viability of moving from inner city to connect with the region."
Wilemon said UTA and the business and tourism communities are all on board.
"We all have this one thing in common, a transportation need, so by bringing all those together, which we did, they came up with it," she said. "It was not necessarily city-led."
Transit systems currently go around Arlington, she said.
"Just look at a map. ... We are the hole, but we don’t intend to stay there," she said.
City officials said last year that they were looking at ways to connect Arlington to local rail systems.
Officials say connecting Arlington with the rest of North Texas is also an economic issue.
"When you're getting that connectivity throughout the region and to the airport, you are connecting everybody conveniently to the rest of the world," said John Terrell, DFW Airport vice president of commercial development.
Jay Burress, president and CEO of Arlington's visitors and convention bureau, agreed.
"We sell ourselves many times as one region, especially to the international visitor, and not being able to get here does leave sort of a hole in the doughnut, and you don't want to be that," he said.
Jennifer Chaves, co-owner of Maverick’s Bar and Grill, said her business would benefit from a mass transit system but doesn't think Arlington will ever implement one.
"I think public opinion hasn't really changed on the matter," she said. "If they run the pilot program and it's successful -- maybe. But I think opinion is still the same with the residents."