Monday, February 18, 2013

The Befuddling Mystery Of Tarrant County & Texas Public Transit

A couple months ago Steve A commented on a blog post where I said something about riding a bus, or public transit, the specifics of which I don't remember, but I remember the comment was about Steve A being able to ride a public transit bus from his vacation spot of Ocean Shores, on the Washington Pacific Coast, to Olympia.

Ocean Shores is in Grays Harbor County. Olympia is in Thurston County, about 70 miles from Ocean Shores.

When Steve A told me he could take a public transit bus from Ocean Shores to Olympia I realized I could take public transit from my old home zone in the Skagit Valley, all the way to Ocean Shores, because of the Washington public transit system of Inter-county connectors.

This got me thinking about the extremely sad state of mass public transit in Texas.

One would think that the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex zone of around 6 million people would be all connected by mass transit, but one would be wrong to think that.

The Washington county I lived in, Skagit County is served by public transit, called Skagit Transit, known as SKAT. SKAT has a Skagit Transit website, is on Twitter and there is a Wikipedia article about SKAT.

Skagit County covers 1,731 square miles. Tarrant County covers 897 square miles. Skagit County's population is 118,109. Tarrant County's population is 1,849,815.

Skagit County is about twice as big as Tarrant County, with Tarrant County having a population about 15 times bigger than Skagit County.

So, how is it that Skagit County has public transit, while Tarrant County does not? When Fort Worth decided to have a public bus system called  The T, why was no effort made to make this a county-wide public transit system?

From the SKAT website, their mission statement...

Our goal is to provide high quality public transportation that meets the needs of the citizens of Skagit County at the least cost to the taxpayer and the user and in the process contribute to the county's economy and quality of life. To do this, we provide traditional Fixed Route bus transportation to most shopping, medical, employment, recreational, and governmental locations. Buses operate Monday through Sunday except on certain holidays.

What is it that stops Tarrant County from having a similar lofty goal?

Tarrant County can not plead being poor as its excuse. The per capita income in Tarrant County is $39,380. Skagit County's per capita income is $37,904. The cost of living is higher in Skagit County than it is in Tarrant County.

The Seattle/Tacoma/Everett Metropolitan zone is served by mass public transit in various forms, including rail, bus and ferries. The Dallas/Arlington/Fort Worth Metropolitan zone is not served by a cohesive mass public transit system.

The Seattle/Tacoma/Everett Metropolitan zone covers 5,894 square miles with a population of 3,500,026. The Dallas/Arlington/Fort Worth Metropolitan zone covers 8,991 square miles with a population of 6,526,548.

So, the Dallas/Arlington/Fort Worth Metroplex is more densely populated than the Seattle/Tacoma/Everett Metroplex, but does not have a public mass transit system serving the population.

One would think that some sort of effort would be made to bring mass public transit to D/FW International Airport.

One would think that some sort of effort would be made to bring mass public transit to Arlington's Entertainment District, that being the location of Six Flags Over Texas, Hurricane Harbor, the Ballpark in Arlington and the Dallas Cowboy Stadium.

I have been told by more than one Texan that Texans don't ride buses because buses are for poor people.

I guess Washington has way more poor people than Texas does. Watch the video below and eventually you will see a lot of poor people on buses in the transit tunnel that runs under downtown Seattle.

1 comment:

Dannyboy said...


You are a bit wrong about Tarrant County mass transit. When it was proposed some decades ago, every city in Tarrant County had the vote to join in. Most did not, including Arlington. So it wasn't that there was "no effort" made to include the whole county, it's just that most of the county said "no" and continues to do so. It is a fact of life in North Texas. Mass transit is considered something that poor people use, and consequently, the funding and improvement of such transportations plans are not seen as important in any way. So it is a conundrum that has no simple fix. People don't use mass transit unless they have to because it is crappy in FW, but they don't want to spend anything to make it better because it is for the crappy poor people. Get it? It will never happen in FW until those attitudes change and I don't see that happening anytime soon.