DART 2020: A Look Back

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

2020 has been a difficult year for transit agencies and railroads across the country. But for nearly every one, there were bright spots—from dedicated employees serving on the front lines to new initiatives improving the rider experience. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) in Texas has shared highlights of its achievements throughout the year.

Among them:

• In January, DART started installing more than 300 interactive digital kiosks across its service network.

“Developing transportation and connectivity options is a critical part of improving the quality of life for both DART riders and all North Texas residents,” DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas said. “DART is committed to making our entire multimodal transit system flexible, reliable and easy to use by integrating user-centered mobility technology solutions that empower our customers to make travel decisions based on the schedules and modes that work best for them.”

• In February, candlestick-type barriers began to be added to all 64 light rail station platforms to help prevent injuries between LRVs. According to DART, “The new barriers alert visually impaired riders that the space between the cars is not a door opening, thereby deterring them from entering the area and causing injury. They also warn individuals from inadvertently stepping off the platform between the coupled cars.”

• In March, DART licensed its GoPass® mobile ticket-purchasing app to the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority (MTTA). DART launched GoPass® in 2013.

In April, DART bus operators delivered meals to Dallas Independent School District (DISD) and Garland Independent School District (GISD), while students learned remotely.

“Using DART buses for meal delivery helps DISD and GISD reach families that utilize state-sponsored school lunches, makes it more practical for families that are transit-dependent and helps families that are working,” DART said. “Each bus delivered 1,500 meals, enough for 100 families per bus, 15 meals per student, for a total of 4,500 meals weekly for distribution by DISD employees.”

• In May, DART continued to focus on cleaning as riders returned to work. “DART has aggressively expanded agency-wide cleaning and safety protocols in response to the novel coronavirus and remains committed to doing everything possible to keep patrons and employees safe through this pandemic,” DART said.

DART Red and Blue line trains are cleaned every 60 minutes; Orange and Green line trains are cleaned every 90 minutes; and buses are cleaned nightly, with a focus on high-touch areas such as handrails, door buttons and grab rails.

• In June, CV-19 Plexiglas shields were installed on all buses between operators and riders. DART Engineering, in collaboration with the Fleet Maintenance and Bus Operations teams, designed the shields to help protect operators who continue to provide essential transportation services as well as riders.

In July, researchers from the Economics Research Group at the University of North Texas reviewed 82 development projects completed within a quarter mile of DART light rail stations between 2016 and 2018. The total property value was $5.138 billion. They found:

  • The projects generated $10.27 billion for the Dallas-Fort Worth economy; created 61,017 construction jobs; and generated $286.4 million in state and local tax revenue.
  • Projects within a quarter mile of the Downtown Dallas to Bishop Arts streetcar route saw $200.7 million in development, with a corresponding economic impact of $454.7 million; they created 2,701 jobs and generated $12.6 million in state and local taxes.
  • Properties near DART stations were found to rent for substantially more than surrounding projects. Residential properties have a 17.9% rent premium, and commercial and office space have premiums of 23% and 5.8%, respectively.

• In August, the DART Engineering Department installed face mask and hand sanitizer dispensers on more than 600 buses, 160 light rail vehicles and four streetcars.

• In September, 50 1,500-foot-long rail segments were delivered for the 26-mile Silver Line Regional Rail Project under construction between Plano and DFW Airport. Steel Dynamics, Inc. in Columbia City, Ind. shipped them by train to Richardson, Texas. The new alignment through the cities of Grapevine, Coppell, Dallas, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson and Plano is slated for revenue service in 2023.

In October, customers had free rides to voting locations across the service area using DART bus; light rail; Dallas Streetcar; GoLink and Paratransit service; and Trinity Railway Express (TRE) between EBJ Union Station and CentrePort/DFW Airport Station.

• In November, DART invited residents to view the betterments/sound wall mock-ups for the Silver Line alignment. The betterments/sound wall color and finish for each neighborhood were voted on by residents and stakeholders. The Durisol Absorptive Wall System will be used on the trackside of the alignment; the Precast Concrete Reflective Wall will be used on the neighborhood-side.

• In December, DART received “Vision of the Year” for its D2 Subway project from Mainspring’s Global Light Rail Awards program, which recognizes “excellence and innovation in the global light and urban rail sector.” The project will build a second light rail line through downtown Dallas that extends from Victory Park to Deep Ellum. It reached the 30% level of preliminary design in October.

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