The time is in the mid to late 1980’s Dallas, Texas. The City Council Planning Commission is trying to develop ways to implement effective traffic capacity to suit the fast growing future of the Dallas Ft. Worth metroplex. There is a huge influx of jobs and families coming to the area and expansion is inevitable. Even with the expansive development of DFW Airport and the surrounding thorough fares and freeways there is a bottle neck between Dallas, Arlington going west and Ft. Worth. All three towns are rapidly increasing in population, development, and the supporting traffic burden that comes with it.
If only left to him
One City Council member who has served a long time and has always sought to minimize government size and expense has been Max Goldblatt. Max who has always attempted to make decisions involving city expenses to be unimpulsive and well-studied before moving ahead. Dallas is in the midst of a 7 year Interstate 75 renovation that has been long overdue. Built in 1954 the expressway is much maligned and often referred to as “Central Depressway” due to its gridlock and deterioration, but the east west route between Ft. Worth and Dallas is served by an old interstate, once a tollway that has now paid for itself and been redesignated as Interstate 30 it too is long overdue for additional east west roadways to take off some of the load it is now experiencing.
Best possible solution
As the Dallas City Council entertains many approaches and even visits numerous cities in the US to see how they have accomplished mass transit and public transportation Max Goldblatt has been approached by a Disney contractor who specializes in monorails. These are literally suspended trains that operate efficiently from elevated buttresses above existing landscapes so as to minimize the acquisition of land and use of Imminent Domain upon property owners. Max is presented with an intriguing deal that seems too good to be true. It involves an futuristic mode of mass transportation that would be consistent with Dallas’s desire to remain as an innovator and a bright star among the leading cities of America.
What Max can’t believe in the proposal presented to the Dallas City Council Planning Commission is that the Disney contractor is willing to construct and deliver the entire project, a monorail from Dallas, to Arlington, to Ft. Worth without a cent for the development itself only collecting compensation through the revenue it would receive by collecting revenue from tickets for the passengers with a realized consumer usage that would likely be phenomenal once the project is completed and the sensation by the public of riding in a new innovative mass transportation system that is streamlined, exciting, fast, and convenient. All Max has to do now is sell this unbeatable idea to the rest of the city council members.
Far be it from government to implement a cost effective form of mass transportation that wouldn’t relay on costly bond elections or increases in local tax rates. His colleagues failed to see the significance of such a project! They’re journeys across the nation had led them undoubtedly to the familiarity of costly government managed systems requiring huge influxes of capital from the private sector (taxes) and the inevitable complexity of inefficiency that plagues the vast majority of government projects once the shovel ready jobs and opportunities are supposedly in place! And so it was that Dallas would make the big mistake of falling into the litany of mistakes inherent in inner cities programs fueled by cost overruns, unnecessary bureaucracy, and hardships put upon the citizens and users. How could such an uncomplicated and cost effective plan have been ignored by the Dallas City Council Planning Commission? Should we answer-stupidity, lack of imagination, greed, nonexistent forethought? Perhaps, the promise of money under the table as huge amounts of funding were transferred into different hands?
Birth of more debt
In the place of a modern, no startup cost futuristic monorail system that would have been cheap to operate, expandable, and handled by a dedicated contractor with an excellent track record of expertise, the Dallas City Council opted for a major project that would require years of construction, complicated land acquisition, and the promise of more taxation and net losses in operation DART was born. Dallas Area Rapid Transit became the illegitimate bastard child from a dream that would have catapulted public service along with the reputation of Dallas as a major well planned example for future cities in managing their growth while maximizing their ratio of cost efficiency. Don’t we know that we just can’t have such things in big city government?
Hear no evil
Max Goldblatt’s proposal to his colleagues and even on TV to make his case to the general public apparently fell on deaf ears regardless of the sense it made. Years before in the early sixties the Dallas downtown area had been efficiently serviced by an electrical cable car business completely run by, managed by, and serviced by a private contractor who, much like Disney’s contractor would run a well-oiled and cost effective service for the general public. For no apparent reason once again the idiocy of city politics struck again and Dallas City Council members opted to get rid of an efficient mass transit system that made money, and establish just another bus system that would cost tax payers dearly!
To date, DART, has cost hundreds of millions in the red. There have been numerous accidents costing the lives of pedestrians run over by DART employees driving their publicly owned vehicles and there have been a number of armed robberies as apparently DART police aren’t where they’re supposed to be when it comes to protecting the DART users and with all the drop off and pickup locations that cost additional maintenance expense DART has proven to be an embarrassment an operation that serves as just one more ode to the stupidity of government run operations! Following the idiotic example of Dallas officials in Ft. Worth and Arlington adopted the same costly and inefficient mode of mass transit which has also resulted in a number of railway accidents at multiple intersections, and who knows perhaps the feds can come in and run DART someday just as gratifyingly as they have run AMTRAK in the northeast! Wouldn’t that be a fitting slap in the face to taxpayers who look upon government as God and suffer the consequences each and every time.
I attended a meeting at the local library in an affluent suburb north of Dallas and as a number of people including myself sat and listened to new proposals for future growth and expansion in the area I reminded everyone of the DART fiasco in Dallas once the official running the meeting grudgingly allowed me to speak. As soon as I had finished my little tale of two cities in Texas the man, middle aged, balding, appearing as a typical functionary in government offices began proposing a new development for another bond election financed mass transit subsystem in some area of the city that was not currently being serviced by DART. Yes, much like the plague it seems that these schemes that forever trap we the people in bottomless pits of taxation and red tape will continue unabated because government, no matter on what level, seeks to perpetuate itself regardless of the impact upon the citizen, who must look forward to the higher cost of living, more encroachment, and the assured cluster of unsolvable problems that inevitably accompany government master planning!