From a DART perspective, everything changed on Monday, December 6, when Phase II of the Green Line opened and more than half of the 130 bus routes adjusted accordingly. Instantly, the Southwest's premier transit agency was operating the largest light rail system in the nation.
Transforming How We Travel
The 20-station, 28-mile Green Line is the centerpiece of an ongoing $3.4 billion light rail expansion that also will extend service to Irving, Rowlett and UNT's campus in South Dallas.
Completed on time and on budget, the $1.8 billion Green Line received major funding from a $700-million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Transit Administration. Awarded at the start of construction in 2006, the FFGA is being doled out over several years.
The new line's unique path connects communities, hospitals, entertainment districts and employment centers, and creates a vital link between the busy Stemmons Corridor and neighborhoods in Southeast Dallas where residents are expected outnumber jobs three-to-one by 2025.
"To be able to travel by rail between the Dallas Market Center and downtown is a benefit to our buyers, our customers and our employees," says Bill Winsor, president and chief executive officer of the Dallas Market Center.
|Take a look back at the Green Line opening on|
December 6, 2010
Opening Lake Highlands Station
"This project will breathe new life into the Lake Highlands community, offering not only shopping and a broad range of housing options, but public parks and other amenities," says Dallas City Council member Jerry R. Allen, a former member of the DART Board of Directors.
Raising Platforms, Lowering Barriers
Passengers with disabilities - plus people with strollers, bicycles or rolling luggage - can now step or roll directly onto the system's new Super Light Rail Vehicles without negotiating stairs or relying on mechanical lifts.
Upgrading TRE's Tracks
In FY 2010, the TRE made progress on the Belt Line Grade Separation Project, supported by $43 million in federal funding, which includes an 8,236-foot-long bridge over busy Belt Line, Briery and Story roads in Irving, just west of Dallas. The project also adds quad gate technology at several major road crossings to allow quiet zones.
A new bridge for the Trinity Railway Express eliminates disruptions at several busy intersections.
Revising the Routes
Many customers now begin their trips at the North Carrollton/Frankford Station.
Increasing Fare Options
Likewise, The T in Fort Worth and the Denton County Transportation Authority's (DCTA) forthcoming A-train commuter rail service will deploy the same model of TVMs, ultimately allowing all three transit agencies to dispense identical regional rail passes.
Ticket Vending Machines that accept credit cards and sell multi-day passes are being installed at all rail stations
DART Store Online pass sales soared in FY 2010 as more customers ordered special event tickets, day pass vouchers and paratransit coupons. Many riders took advantage of DART combo passes to the State Fair of Texas®, particularly for the three major football games played at the Cotton Bowl.
Modernizing the Fleet
Through a deal with the Texas General Land Office, the agency secured a fuel hedge that locks natural gas costs through 2020 and takes advantage of current favorable market conditions.
In January 2011, the DART Board approved the purchase of up to 452 new heavy duty, low-floor buses.
The new buses are scheduled to begin arriving as early as 2013.
A contract for the construction of four CNG fueling stations at DART's maintenance facilities will be awarded this spring.
Monitoring Ridership in a Down Economy
With economic recovery and the expansion of rail service, ridership is expected to rebound. Rising fuel costs have begun to drive more commuters to take transit as they did when gas prices soared to new highs in 2008.
"We think it will take a good year for people to understand where the new Green Line goes and adjust their travel patterns," says DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas.
Enhancing Safety and Security
In March, the new DART Police headquarters opened in the historic Monroe Shops building at Illinois Station on the southern section of the Blue Line. The 95-year-old former trolley car maintenance facility has been restored and adaptively reused, and DART is seeking its first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the project.
To improve customer safety and security, video surveillance cameras are being installed at light rail stations, inside police cruisers and on new buses and trains. The agency also is implementing new deployment plans to enhance police presence on the system.
Improving Customer Communications
DART Customer Service representatives answer thousands of riders' calls daily
For real-time service information while in transit, customers can subscribe to My DART Updates at www.DART.org, a free electronic subscription service.
On the go. In the know.
Remodeling Mobility Management
A new service delivery model will augment the standard fleet of paratransit lift-equipped vans with taxis or sedans – introducing greater flexibility for responding to ridership demands and a greater mix of vehicles dispatched according to the particular needs of customers.
With a $652,000 New Freedom grant from the Federal Transit Administration, DART and the North Central Texas Council of Governments also are enlisting a mobility management consultant to implement five projects that better coordinate public transit for people with disabilities and older adults.
Connecting to the A-train
DCTA also has joined the alliance with DART and The T that permits regional rail passes to be used on all three transit systems.
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Bringing the M-Line Full Circle
At the other end of the line, MATA has begun construction on a trolley car turntable and passenger shelter just outside DART Rail Cityplace Station's west entrance. The turntable will enable the line to expand its nostalgic fleet with circa-1930s President's Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars now in storage.