Whether it’s to gain a little perspective or just for fun, it’s interesting to check out transit in other cities. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail system is the country’s longest, stretching 90 miles across North Texas.
DART opened a five-mile extension to Dallas/Forth Worth International airport last August, making for an easy (though long) trip from the airport into Dallas and areas much farther east. The extension, along with the entire system, draws its funding from a 1% local sales tax.
Locals do voice complaints about both how long trips take and how often trains run. Riding DART from the airport to downtown is scheduled to take 50 minutes, and according to Google Maps, the same trip can take as little as half an hour by car. Train frequencies range from every 15 minutes to every 20.
But despite these drawbacks, people in Dallas say they like that DART guarantees a set travel time, whereas dealing with the region’s traffic takes some guesswork.
Unlike in the Washington region, where walkable, dense development has sprouted up around a lot of Metro stations, land use in Dallas doesn’t yet match the rail system. A lot of the stations on DART’s Orange Line between the airport and downtown are surround by parking lots and bus bays — one even had a transit-oriented… field.
A field adjacent to the Irving Convention Center station. A highway flanked the other side of the station.
Dallas residents are using DART network more and more, even with its limitations. In 2014, DART ridership increased 1% to 96,272 average weekday riders compared to the prior year, according to the transit agency.
That DART is helping shift some auto trips to transit is a net positive for the North Texas region. Rail transit there continues to expand, and construction is underway on a 2.6-mile extension of DART’s Blue Line due to open in 2016. There are also plans for a new 27-mile commuter rail line between downtown Fort Worth and Dallas/Fort Worth airport that could open as soon as 2018.
For more on transit developments in other cities, check out GGW’s coverage of San Francisco BART’s new Oakland Airport connector.