Friday, June 19, 2015

Not Thanking Fort Worth Voters For More Buses With More Options & Fewer Outhouses

File this in the folder containing things I see in other newspapers, such as the Seattle Times, which I would never see in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

That being the advertisement you see here which was on the Seattle Times online front page, with the City of Seattle thanking Seattle voters for voting for more buses with more options.

At my current location in Texas I have been appalled more than once by having a local tell me only poor people ride buses.

I have long wondered how such a bone-headed idea takes root.

I also wonder what one of those locals thinks if they travel to a modern American city with modern public transit, like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle or Dallas.

Do they think all those people using public transit are poor?

Most every county in my old home state has public transit. The current county I live in, Tarrant, in Texas, has only one town with a semi-developed  public transit system. That would be Fort Worth.

Fort Worth's buses are a bit, well, minimalist. Luxury liners, they ain't. But, why should poor people expect a luxury ride on public transit?

Skagit County, from whence I came, has public transit called Skagit Transit. Skagit County covers 1,920 square miles, with a population of 118,837.

King County, where Seattle is, has public transit called Sound Transit. King County covers 2,307 square miles, with a population of 2,079,967.

Tarrant County has no public transit, other than Fort Worth's T. Tarrant County covers only 897 square miles, with a population of 1,809,034.

How can a Texas county, a fraction the size of Skagit and King County, and much more densely populated, not have public transit covering the entire county?

What does a local think if they fly in to, well, Sea-Tac, to find they can get on Link light rail which will take them to downtown Seattle for less than it costs for a day pass on a Fort Worth bus? What does that same local think when they ride that Link train into downtown Seattle to find themselves entering a tunnel under the city, with five big underground transit stations? Does this clue the local as to how far behind, transportation-wise, their hometown is?

If the Fort Worth buses are for poor people, why does it cost more to ride them, significantly more, than King or Skagit County public transit?

Both King and Skagit transit offer discounts for various categories. Greatly reduced youth, over 65, disabled, and low income fares. In other words an actual poor person in King or Skagit County can get a bus ticket at about half price, or less.

A month pass on Skagit Transit is $25.00. $12.50 at reduced fare. Similar rates for King County transit.

A month pass on a Fort Worth bus costs $60.00. There are reduced fares available for students, senior citizens and the disabled. I found no mention of reduced fares for poor people. A reduced fare Fort Worth bus pass costs $5 more than a Skagit Transit full fare month pass. In other words, the Fort Worth reduced fare is $30.00. To get the reduced fare you have to jump through some Fort Worth hoops, at various locations, proving you deserve to pay less. Then you pay $2.00 to get yourself a Reduced Fare Photo Identification Card.

Skagit Transit has all sorts of special deals, like a greatly reduced rate for students at Skagit Valley College, with a bus pass for an entire quarter for only $15. No mention was made of needing a Reduced Fare Photo Identification Card. I suspect ones Student I.D. likely suffices in a land where common sense prevails.

The last time I rode Fort Worth's buses, about three years ago, I thought the fare for a day pass was still $3.00. It had been raised to $3.50. I had three dollar bills with me, along with larger bills. Fort Worth drivers can not make change. The driver let me get on board and then when we got to a strip mall he sent me inside a donut shop to get change.

How bizarre.

Now read how the Skagit Transit system handles this same issue....

While drivers cannot make change, our fare boxes issue a change card for the difference between what you owe and what you deposit in the fare box. For example, if you pay a $1.00 fare with a $5 bill, the fare box will issue a Skagit Transit Change Card for $4.00. The next time you ride Skagit Transit, dunk the card in the slot. The fare box will deduct $1.00 each time you use it, print the dollar value on your card and return it to you.

How can Skagit County, small of population, have a much more sophisticated system, in this instance, than big ol' Fort Worth?

How can Fort Worth's public transit planners not realize they are charging far more, fare-wise, than areas of America with far more successful public transit?

I realize I may be being a bit unfair, comparing Fort Worth and Tarrant County to Seattle and King and Skagit County.

Skagit and King County and Seattle, are far more prosperous than Tarrant County and Fort Worth.

For example.

The majority of streets in towns in Skagit and King County have sidewalks. Wide sidewalks. On both sides of the street.

Parks in Skagit and King County have modern  restroom facilities. With running water.

So, I realize in a town where outhouses are the norm in city parks. And people are okay with that. Where most streets have no sidewalks. And people are okay with that.

That those same people are apparently okay with having what amounts to being an outhouse level of public transit.

I suppose the majority local attitude is, just like with public transit, only poor people use parks or sidewalks, hence the ubiquitous outhouses and narrow sidewalks, in the few places those amenities exist.

Watch the below video I made back in the summer of 2008 and you will see what must be a lot of poor people using Seattle's modern public transit. Note all the buses. And all the poor people onboard.

Imagine a similar scene in Fort Worth. I know, I can't either....

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