Dallas Area Rapid Transit has signed off on a pilot program for a shuttle from Arlington to a rail station near the airport.
The agency's board on Tuesday approved a contract for a two-year program that includes bus service between the University of Texas at Arlington and the Trinity Railway Express CentrePort Station.
The Arlington City Council and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority must still decide whether to approve the project.
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Arlington has been in talks with DART and TRE about possible partnerships to give the city, the largest in the nation without public transportation, an opportunity to test the transit waters.
DART approved the contract, which includes partial UTA funding for the program, after a last-minute change to create a local government corporation to manage the pilot program's finances. The corporation is similar to the one created with the city of Mesquite last year for its trial shuttle.
"The DART board has found it an effective tool to account for the funding and expenditures for this type of non-member service," said Jim Parajon, Arlington director of community development and planning.
However, the addition to the contract could lead to delays, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. DART board members told the newspaper that Arlington officials do not want a local government corporation.
To become a DART member, Arlington would have to adopt a 1-cent sales tax.
Arlington voters have rejected sales-tax measures for mass transit on three separate occasions. And city officials have shown no interest in such a tax, with Mayor Robert Cluck recently saying a penny sales tax increase was expensive and unlikely.
"The city of Arlington is interested solely in providing a pilot service," Parajon said. "There's not an interest in this point in expanding beyond that."
"I have no idea what that next step would be right now, and I don't think anybody would -- that's the reason it's called a pilot," Councilwoman Kathryn Wilemon said.
The city will use the pilot program to analyze the need for mass transit, considering such things as ridership and the effect on businesses and traffic.
The city then will consider its next move.
"This pilot will give us an indication [of] the need, the desire," Wilemon said.
If approved, the pilot program is slated to be begin Aug. 19.
The City Council will be presented with the DART agreement for approval at its next meeting.