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It's a Texas Thing

Michael Lindenberger has a nice piece in the Dallas Morning News about the transportation (and parking) disaster in the suburban city of Arlington, Texas. Unlike just about every other sports stadium or arena in the country, if you don't have a car or someone to drive you, forget about getting to a Cowboys game any other way.

(from flickr user ladybugbkt)

It's not that Arlington's leadership is being stubborn or has no vision, it's that the citizens won't support transit and they don't want to pay:
Voters in the past three decades have rejected three initiatives that would have dedicated sales taxes to transit, including twice since 2002. "They don't want it," said former Arlington Mayor Elzie Odom, who retired as mayor in 2003. "It doesn't do any good to argue. We have done that three times. The residents who bother to go to the polls just won't have it."

Voters did approve the new stadium, which cost $1.1 billion and was paid for in part by a half-cent sales tax increase. Even the new stadium, and the traffic troubles that come with it, haven't persuaded voters to think again about transit, he said.
This is one of the cultural and political things that drove me crazy when I lived in Dallas. Unlike many big cities, which are typically overwhelmed by liberals, Texas cities (sans for maybe Austin) have a strong proportion of conservatives. These are people oppose public services like transit on principle, because they don't want to impose taxes or they don't think a government agency can competently provide the service, and the result is that it becomes very difficult to make policy that best serves the public.

Lindenberger says that Cowboys owned parking lots will charge around 75 bucks per car and might not even be particularly close to the front gate of the stadium. Now, I'm all for charging premiums for parking, as long as there is a reasonable alternative. If it's really expensive to park, but I can take transit or my bike instead, that's acceptable. But when it's really expensive to park and automobiles have a monopoly on the transportation situation, that's a big problem.


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