Op-ed: Making the case for Public Transportation and Para-Transit in Collin County – CCDWD Takes A Stand

ccddfinal-jpgTime to Quit Kicking the Can Down the Road
Collin County is about to give birth to one of the greatest population explosions in Texas’ history! We are expected to grow up to 80.2% in just 15 years.  By 2030, it is estimated we could have 1.7 million people residing hereCurrently 20 %, or 1 in 5, are people with disabilities or over 65.  As the “Baby Boomer Generation” ages, the number of older adults is projected to grow from 7% to a whopping 13%.  Simply building more houses, more schools, more roads and hospitals won’t be enough.  Reliable public transportation must be a priority, if we are to give rise to a healthy, viable, ever-growing community.  It is something we must do now; it is something we must get right.
For years if not decades, individual cities have struggled with the transportation issue, trying one temporary or band aid solution after another. Since the exit of TAPS earlier this year, the lack of para-transit in Collin County has garnered much concern and attention.  However, just “fixing” para-transit does not address the larger problem:  that of leaving people with disabilities and seniors isolated from mainstream community life.  It’s way past time for Collin County to confront the problem and act.
Public transportation is not an option; it is a critical necessity.  And it is highly desirable because:
It creates a positive climate for economic expansion and development. Businesses thrive, jobs are created, the tax base increases.
It’s cheaper.  It costs less to take public transit than to own and drive a car.  Fewer cars mean less highway construction and maintenance expense for taxpayers.
It saves time.   Regularly scheduled service on established, comprehensive routes gets you there on time and in a better frame of mind.  Unlike an automobile, it is reliable.  It is safer.  It is relaxing.
It’s good for the environment.  Fewer automobiles equals less pollution, cleaner air.  (Remember when you left smog and smaze behind when you crossed the Collin County line?)
It benefits everyone, especially people who don’t drive or cannot because of age or disability.  It allows people independence and mobility to go where and when they want without relying on friends or family.  It enhances the quality of community life.
Combined with paratransit for people with disabilities or special needs—those who require door-to-door services–public transit offers the best solution to our ever-growing need for more and better transportation…one of the most vital aspects of our infrastructure…one that affects everyone in Collin County.   We must demand that our elected officials, our city councils and mayors, get on board and help us reach not only our destination but our destiny.
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Published in McKinney Courier Gazette and Plano Star Courier, November 20, 2016

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