Gridlocked: Arlington Looking to Improve Public Transportation

Arlington is a hub for entertainment, no matter what the season.

In fact, Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said tourism is up 40 percent, likely thanks to the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and Six Flags Over Texas.

But even with a growing entertainment district, public transportation is limited. The city of Arlington is looking for short-term and long-term solutions to improve public transportation.

"Obviously there's room for improvement," said Alicia Winkelbleck, with the city of Arlington. "Lately, we're hearing more and more people asking about transportation options."

Some short-term solutions include pilot projects to improve traffic flow through intersections.

This summer, the city will also offer driver-less shuttles. If the shuttles are successful, they'll add more to their fleet of two vehicles.

They're also looking at ride share for groups – basically, paid vehicles picking up various people who are heading to the same spot.

"So the city is interested in demand response ride-share service, because it's flexible, it's fairly cost effective and it can provide more access to more destinations," Winkelbleck said.

For long-term transportation solutions there's engineer Bill Verkest.

"If the Cowboys, the Rangers and Six Flags are all operating on the same day, how do we manage that traffic flow?" Verkest asked.

Verkest is part of Arlington's Transportation Advisory Committee, which is looking at any possible solution. One of the more unique ideas is, "a gondola thing where people ride it along a trail, kind of like a zip line from one place to another," Verkest said.

The pod system is called skyTran. Each pod carries two people at a time, and over long distances can travel faster than 100 miles per hour.

He said it's an out-of-the-box idea focused on technology.

"I'm very proud of this committee because they're not afraid to talk. They're not afraid to bring forth ideas," Verkest said.

And they're not afraid to face this challenge: finding a system to improve transportation in Arlington. If only it was easy.

Arlington is hosting a public transportation forum May 25 at the University of Texas at Arlington in the Lone Star Theater at 6:30 p.m.

The Transportation Advisory Committee is planning to give their suggestions to Arlington's mayor and city council this September.

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