Thursday, July 19, 2012

Managing Transit within Individual Fiefdoms

Almost a year ago today, I discussed how some area suburbs were trying to increase transit options in their municipalities that do not currently have service.

In March, Mesquite opened an express route from their downtown connecting to the Lawnview Station on the Green Line.

However, Allen and McKinney have seen nothing concrete from their efforts yet. Monday's Metro section in the Dallas Morning News contained a story about why there has been a delay for those northern suburbs.

The short version is one of my concerns about this piecemeal approach. DART has inhibitions about approving a program that pumps non-service-area riders into the first station of the Red Line, forcing others further in to stand on the Downtown-Dallas-bound trains. Those others are also more likely to reside in a DART service area city and therefore are also more likely to pay the sales tax. As it stands, DART will receive nothing from the two suburbs.

Sadly, in the current system (political, not infrastructural), the only solution I see is an increase in capacity. But again, that has costs associated and who pays what will be at the heart of this matter.

As I mentioned in the previous post, this is one of the many drawbacks with a transit system's service area being decided by individual cities and paid for with their sales tax allocations. Until a fundamental change totally re-designs the way we fund, operate and administer transit service in the region, this will be more common as the region grows outward. More and more outlying suburbs will try to find a way to keep their sales tax and still fund transit and the current payers will look out for their interests first.

In the end, it is the residents who will have the drawbacks.

1 comment:

Ken Duble said...

In addition to raising the sales cap to allow more cities with funds currently dedicated to opt in, perhaps it's time to consider countywide referenda.

It's a pity the political climate in the legislature didn't support John Carona's initiatives some years back.