Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Having Myself A Real Fine Time Riding Fort Worth Buses With All The Poor Homeless People

Fort Worth's Long Gone Light Rail Subway
Yesterday I was motivated to blog about Fort Worth's World City Status after reading an article in Fort Worth Weekly about the current state of public transit in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, and the opinion verbalized that Fort Worth will not be a world class city until it has a mass transit system.

There were another couple of paragraphs in Fort Worth Weekly's A Tale of Two Rail Systems cover article that sort of bugged me.

I don't know if the couple of excerpts that bugged me reflected the point of view of the author, Dan McGraw, or if he was reflecting opinions he'd encountered whilst writing the article.

But, I do know I have encountered the same opinion being verbalized by locals. I won't name names.

The first excerpt that bugged me....

The T, on the other hand, has had no choice but to maintain a bus system whose main purpose is to provide basic transportation to poor folks without cars.

The main purpose of the bus system is to provide basic transportation to poor folks without cars?

The first time I rode a Fort Worth bus I found it a fun, amusement park like ride. I asked a local if she ever road the bus. She told me she thought only poor people rode the bus. I've been on Fort Worth buses at least 5 times. How does one tell it is poor people riding the bus?

I can't help but wonder what does a Fort Worth native think the first time they visit New York City and see all those people using public transit? They must think New York City has an awful lot of poor people.

What does a Fort Worth native think the first time they visit Seattle and find themselves in the transit tunnel under downtown Seattle, seeing so many buses and a light rail, with a lot of people on  board. They must think there are an awful lot of poor people in Seattle.

The valley I lived in in Washington, the Skagit Valley, has a pubic transit bus system, called SKAT. SKAT was free to ride when I lived in Washington. I believe a fare is charged now. A Fort Worth native visiting the Skagit Valley must think the valley has an awful lot of poor people who can't afford cars, when they see a public transit bus system exists.

The other excerpt that bugged me was...

The current bus route through that area has the highest ridership of any route in The T’s system, and Eastside residents have supported the plan in surveys. But part of the large projected ridership would be homeless folks, due to the number of homeless shelters and services on East Lancaster. The homeless qualify for free bus passes, and many use them frequently to go downtown, usually to the main library, where they hang out and use the computers. The big unspoken question here is whether commuters who work downtown will be willing to share their commute with that group.

How is it known that the homeless hop a bus to get to the downtown library? Would that not involve a long walk to get to the library? I don't think there is a bus stop at the library. Would it not make more sense for the homeless person to hop on board the 21 bus and go to the Eastside Regional Library? Which also has a lot of computers.

I have never been in the Eastside Regional Library and thought to myself, wow, look at all those homeless people.

I have never been on a Fort Worth bus and thought to myself, oh my, this is awful, I am on a bus with a bunch of poor, homeless people.

Who or what taught the Fort Worth locals that buses and public transit are for poor people? And the homeless?

In a highly evolved world-class city, like New York City, Dallas or Seattle, you can use mass public transit to get all over the town. When I am in Seattle I sometimes stay in the north end. I'll take a bus to downtown and then use the downtown transit tunnel to zip from one end of downtown to the other.

It would not make much sense for Fort Worth to have an underground transit center to facilitate zipping around downtown. Because downtown Fort Worth is rather tiny. There is not a lot to zip to. Or people needing to be zipped.

I have long been curious as to how many Fort Worth natives have even been to Dallas to check out how well the DART train has worked in that town. I assume not a lot of Fort Worth natives make the trek 30 miles east to Dallas. If they do they must think Dallas has an awful lot of poor people.

Few Fort Worth locals visiting Dallas may be why the Fort Worth Star-Telegram knew it could get away with tall tales told to the locals, making up propaganda about Fort Worth's Santa Fe Rail Market being the first public market in Texas, and that it was modeled after public markets in Europe and Seattle's Pike Place Market. This propaganda was spewed when Dallas has the Dallas Farmers Market, which every one of my visitors from the Northwest has remarked reminded them of Pike Place Market.

Below you can walk with me through Seattle's Westlake Center, an actual town square, unlike Fort Worth's Sundance Square, and then into the Westlake Center vertical shopping mall, where you can go down a few levels and enter the Seattle transit tunnel, where you will see a lot of buses with a lot of poor people who don't own cars....


Mr Galtex said...

That attitude towards public transportation -- that it's for poor people -- is very much part of the Texas view of the world. It's not just in Fort Worth, either, but all over the state.

One unfortunate result of this attitude is the belief that transportation dollars should be spent on more roads for our pick-up trucks and SUVs; money spent on public transportation is welfare for the poor who don't appreciate it anyway.

CatsPaw said...

When I first came to Fort Worth, I got a job downtown at a Tandy company that was housed in a building that had once been Leonard's Department Store. It was across the street from the newly-built Tandy Center. Every day, I would park my old Toyota at the river and ride the Tandy subway up through the hillside tunnel into Tandy Center. I enjoyed telling the folks back home that I "took the subway" to work. Especially since many people seemed to believe that Texans rode horses to work.

I had even more fun when we bought a small lot in Granbury that my grandmother (who was a bit guilty of boasting about her family members) told her friends was my ranch. To have supported a herd of cows, they would have had to have been about an inch tall.

Santa Fe Rail Market never had a chance; they had no guys throwing fish. Perhaps if they had tipped cows or something it would have made it.

GG said...

The Texas attitude -- that buses are for poor people -- is an unfortunate reality. The schedules are awful, maybe one bus per hour if you're lucky? Who wants to wait around for that? People who don't have cars and people with broken cars. Durango, I seem to recall that the few times you rode the bus was when your car was in the shop? :)

The exception to this unfortunate reality is people (like us) who will ride the bus to special events and the airport for the convenience and to save money on parking.

Another unfortunate reality is that even if there was a cool street car/bus from downtown to 7th Street we still probably wouldn't ride it if it cost $2 or so each way. Why pay $8 round trip for two people to go shopping or to dinner, when we can just drive our car and park for free?

I also wonder why the T recently invested in these huge double-sized buses for the Lancaster route. It's probably the busiest route, but I seriously question whether the old buses were ever really full.

It's all very perplexing.

Durango said...

GG---I was surprised when I read that articulated buses had been added to the Fort Worth fleet. Are they humongous ones like you saw in the Seattle bus tunnel? I don't understand why they'd waste money on bigger buses unless the existing buses were running at full occupancy, which they aren't.

I've used the bus to rescue me from a vehicle malfunction and I've used it a few times, just for fun, to get to the Tandy Hills. There is a Transit Center on Lancaster, close to the Tandy Hills. It was an adventure in timing to make a roundtrip of it.

GG said...

Durango, you'll love this. I Googled 'new T buses' and look what I got. They bought 8 articulated buses for the SUPER BOWL using $6.4 million in federal money! These things are HUGE!


Durango said...

GG, now this is just bizarre. The new buses are yet one more waste from the Super Bowl debacle? I'm guessing they don't run on natural gas like the rest of the FW bus fleet. Likely diesel. I wonder from where FW bought the buses? In the past couple years Seattle has replaced its original articulated buses that went into operation when the bus tunnel opened. I wonder if it is old Seattle buses that Fort Worth bought? I tell you, this town really needs to find some functioning adults with common sense to govern this town.

1x1000 said...

Wow! I was looking for info on riding the bus to a new position at the downtown central library and any general info on working downtown.

I thought it would be more economical than paying to park downtown. Seems the bus would only get me close to the library and then I would have to walk several blocks. I'm still trying to navigate the trip!

Years ago I worked downtown at FW Natl Bank and I loved riding the bus to work. Hope I figure something out soon! I start new position Tuesday!