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Media Relations Contact:
Morgan Lyons

June 14, 2001

June 14 celebration marks 5 years, 50 million passenger trips

Happy Birthday, DART Rail!

Balloons and banners will fly overhead when DART Rail celebrates its 5th birthday this Thursday, June 14, starting at 6 a.m. at the West End Station. Officials will cut a train-shaped cake, and customers are invited to share in the festivities with coffee and donuts from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Later in the day - from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.-- customers at Mockingbird, Park Lane, Westmoreland and Ledbetter stations will be given special "light rail cookies" and bottled water on the return commute. Riders are also invited to participate in drawings to win commemorative models of DART's light rail vehicles.

With nearly 50,000,000 passenger trips on the light rail starter system to date, DART is attracting thousands of new customers. Since opening light rail in 1996, ridership on buses, trains and high occupancy vehicle lanes combined has nearly doubled to a record 94.7 million passenger trips in Fiscal year 2000.

"It's a great accomplishment for DART and the region to have so successful a light rail system in such a short period of time," said DART Board Chairman Jesse Oliver. "Thanks to our customers and supporters, we're not only celebrating our first five years, we're doubling the size of the system during the next two years, and accelerating our expansion beyond 2003. Now that's exciting!"

DART currently operates a fleet of 95 pollution-free light rail cars over a 20-mile light rail system that includes 21 stations. The agency opened stations in downtown Dallas, West and South Oak Cliff in June 1996, following with three more stations and the region's first subway along North Central Expressway in January 1997, and the final three miles of the South Oak Cliff line in May 1997. In December 2000, the starter system was officially completed with the opening of the Cityplace subway station 10 stories beneath North Central Expressway at Lemmon Avenue.

Next stops: Garland, Richardson and Plano

With construction underway on 24 miles of extensions serving Richardson, Garland and Plano, DART currently is the largest light rail expansion project underway in North America. The 11.2-mile Northeast extension from Mockingbird Station opens to White Rock Lake on September 24, with service set to reach downtown Garland in fall 2002. The 12.5-mile North Central extension from Park Lane Station will serve Richardson in summer 2002 and Plano in summer 2003.

A new economic engine

DART's 20-mile, $860-million light rail starter system already has generated more than $922 million in development near stations, including new, transit-oriented projects combining urban living with services, shopping, entertainment, offices and public transit access. "Transit villages" are taking shape in the new South Side district at the Cedars Station south of downtown Dallas, at the West Village near Cityplace Station and at the Mockingbird Station complex at Mockingbird and North Central Expressway. Even before the North Central extension opens, similar developments are underway at the forthcoming Galatyn Park and downtown Plano stations. A University of North Texas study shows property values near rail stations outpaced comparable non-transit properties by 25%, and rents jumped 47.4% between 1994 and 1998.

Building more light rail faster

On August 12, 2000, citizens in DART's 13 member cities voted 3-to-1 in favor of long-term bonds, accelerating rail extensions beyond 2003 to Carrollton, Farmers Branch, North Irving, DFW Airport, South Dallas, Fair Park, Pleasant Grove and Rowlett.

Scheduled speaker for cake cutting ceremony is DART Board Member Robert Pope.

What: DART Rail celebrates its 5th birthday
When: Thursday, June 14, 6:30 a.m.
Where: West End Rail Station

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