Tag Archives: Amarillo City Transit

Amarillo College, city score a winner with free bus rides

When I heard of this news item from up yonder in Amarillo, I’ll admit to a reaction that might seem a bit unflattering.

It was: What took ’em so long to enact this one?

Amarillo City Transit, the public bus transportation system, is soon to offer free transportation for Amarillo College students. The idea is so brilliant yet so simple, I was struck by the length of time it took for someone to pitch it to the City Council.

Who might be the biggest beneficiaries of this initiative? I figure it’s got to be the students who attend classes at AC’s main campus on Washington Street, just south of Interstate 40. You see, parking at that campus has been a serious problem for as long as I can remember.

I have known several AC presidents over many years, starting with Bud Joyner; then along came Fred Williams, Steve Jones, Paul Matney and now Russell Lowery-Hart. They all grappled with the parking nightmare at the main campus, as did the AC Board of Regents. College enrollment grew, but the parking capacity didn’t keep pace.

The way I figure it, if the college and the city promote this new benefit aggressively and effectively, it will fill the buses with students coming into town to attend classes. It also well could alleviate the parking problem with fewer motor vehicles being crammed onto the parking lots and along the city streets surrounding the campus.

I also must admit to a failing of my own. You see, I worked as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News for nearly 18 years and I don’t once recall ever having a discussion with my boss, or the editorial board, or with college administrators and city officials about enacting such a plan for students.

So I’m left to ask while kicking myself in the backside: Why didn’t I think of this idea long ago?

I am hoping this idea works well for the students … as well as for the college.

Streets becoming major municipal campaign issue

If I could take aim at a single issue for our municipal candidates to ponder, it would our streets.

Getting from Point A to Point B has become a bit of a struggle at times, even in Amarillo, the city I used to joke had its “rush minute” daily at 8 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. It’s not so funny these days.

I am hearing from one of the candidates for City Council speaking in general terms about street maintenance and — in a related matter — traffic control.

Ginger Nelson is running for mayor along with two other candidates. I’ve already commented on her pledge to work with state transportation officials to negotiate a maintenance agreement to improve and maintain the appearance of the public rights-of-way along Interstate 40 and 27. I’m all for it!

She is speaking also about “considering all transit options like buses and bicycles to meet the needs of citizens.” Good deal. She can start that effort by talking to Parks and Recreation officials about how they can complete a citywide bicycle network that is supposed to enable residents to get anywhere in the city on a bicycle.

I have been patient for many years now as I have sought to navigate my way through the city. Streets get repaved regularly. Crews tear up asphalt on major thoroughfares and put fresh surfaces down. They remain in pristine condition far too briefly before patching crews show up.

Nelson wants to spend “street improvement bond money wisely.” I hope she articulates her definition of “wisely.” I’m all ears.

Finally, she hopes to develop “a plan for long-term maintenance of our streets.”  Good. I’ll await that plan, too.

Street repair and maintenance — along with developing routes for alternative transportation modes — is important at many levels.

We remain tied to automobiles in Amarillo. There’s little emphasis placed on using mass transit methods, such as the buses run by Amarillo City Transit. Maybe we can get more residents into our buses and out of their own motor vehicles. The fewer cars and pickups tooling down our streets, the less wear and tear on the pavement. Isn’t that a sensible outcome?

This election, I need to stipulate once again, is going to be a major event in the history of Amarillo. We’re getting a new City Council majority.

I want all the candidates to talk openly to residents about what they intend to do about our streets, upon which we depend to get from place to place.

One candidate for mayor at least is starting the conversation. For that I am grateful. Let’s develop it further.