TEXAS CITY KILLS BUS LINE, MOVES TO MERCEDES VAN SERVICE
Everyone who knows a little history knows that the most efficient form of mass transportation ever devised and used is the trolley. California used to have an extensive trolley system connecting several cities. That is, until Ford Motor Company bought the trolley managing company and intentionally bankrupted it. Why? So everyone would have to buy a car, preferably a Ford. Now we leap forward in time to Arlington, Texas. Four years ago, it was the largest American city without any form of public transportation. Arlington residents have, several times, voted against measures that would set up mass transit in the city. But now the city is doing away with its limited bus service. Why? They are switching to a ride sharing startup of Mercedes vans.
MASS TRANSIT CASE STUDY, WILL IT WORK?
Crazy as it sounds, it will be an interesting case study. Why Mercedes? Well, in Germany, almost all taxis are Mercedes. That’s because they last a long time on the road with proper maintenance with stick shifts. But this new ridesharing startup Via will allow residents to book a ride on an app. They’ll also have a dial-up option for anyone that somehow doesn’t have a smartphone. Riders can get picked up at home or nearby spots. There are no schedules or specific routes. The cost is $3 per ride. But riders can buy a weekly pass for $10. Interesting, right?
ARLINGTON WILL REVIEW CONTRACT AFTER ONE YEAR, BUT HOW?
Arlington has a one-year contract with renewal options for up to four more. But the city council is relying on the service’s own data collection to judge success moving forward. That could prove awkward. Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said, “We are at the beginning of an exciting transportation technology revolution. And Arlington’s Via Rideshare Pilot Program is the latest example of our City’s willingness to explore innovative transportation technology solutions for our residents, employees, students and visitors.”
MERCEDES WINS ACCIDENTAL MARKETING BONANZA, THANKS TAXPAYERS!
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. It is yet another example of a tech company filling in for a metro service. While the local residents are, themselves, the reason why there is no major mass transit system, we all know how media lobbying can have an impact on voters’ judgement. These same residents chose to have public money injected into the city’s stadium. We’ll just have to find out what they think of no buses and for-hire Mercedes vans. But how will this idea work? Can people afford it? Will the service be enough? I’d rather take a trolley.