DART Light Rail

DART Light Rail
Dallas Area Rapid Transit Light Rail
Dallas Area Rapid Transit logo.png
DART Light Rail car 113.jpg
DART train stopped at the West End Station, heading to the American Airlines Center.
Owner DART
Locale Dallas, Texas
Transit type Light rail
Number of stations 54 (open)
62 (open + under construction)
Began operation June 14, 1996
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Minimum radius of curvature (?)
Electrification 750 V DC, overhead lines

DART Light Rail is a light rail system in Dallas, Texas and its suburbs owned by the Dallas Area Rapid Transit. The system comprises 72 miles (115.9 km) between its three lines — the Red Line, the Blue Line and the Green Line. Its 72 miles of track make it the largest light rail system in the United States[1]. It has a daily ridership of 75,000 average trips per weekday[2]. The system utilizes light rail trains manufactured by Kinki Sharyo, with all trains being converted to "Super" LRVs which feature level boarding (especially convenient for strollers and bicycles and increasing the capacity for wheelchairs from about 4 per train to 6-8 per car) and higher passenger capacity.[3]



Before the 1983 election, DART had a plan for 160 miles (257.5 km) of rail. After the election, the plan was pared down to 147 miles (236.6 km) when Duncanville, Grand Prairie and Mesquite, which would have had rail lines, didn't opt to join the agency. DART chose light rail transit as its primary mode of rail transportation in 1984. The plan was pared down again to 93 miles (149.7 km) before the 1988 bond vote. After the vote, the agency again pared down the regional rail system to 84 miles (135.2 km); 66 miles (106.2 km) light rail and 18 miles of commuter rail. In 2010, DART has announced that it will likely need to scrap much of its 2030 plan for expansion citing deficits and money woes.[4]

The following lines are currently active:

  • Red Line (Opened in 1996, completed in its current state in 2002)
  • Blue Line (Opened in 1996, completed in its current state in 2002, additions scheduled for completion in 2012 and 2018)
  • Green Line (Opened in 2009, completed in its current state in 2010)

The following line is under construction:

  • Orange Line (Irving/DFW Line; proposed opening 2011, DART may need to scrap the extension from Irving to DFW Airport to save $50 million. [5])

Starter system

After six years of scandals involving finances, delays in construction of the rail system, a failed bond election, and nine pull-out votes (two of which were successful), the year 1990 was a turning point for the agency when DART broke ground on its light rail system in October. The light rail system began service on time and on budget in June 1996,[6] inaugurating the first light rail system in Texas and the Southwest. Commuter rail service to Irving began in December, after some delays.

A white and yellow train arriving at a station with several lamp posts in the foreground, transit oriented development at the rear and station signage at the far right.
Train arriving at the Downtown Plano Station

To the surprise of critics, who expected the low ridership of some other systems,[citation needed] the new light rail system was embraced by Dallasites, with ridership exceeding expectations. The suburbs' confidence in DART was also expressed at the ballot box: four cities held highly publicized pullout elections in 1996 (with the financial assistance of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who wanted DART's half-cent sales tax revenue for Cowboy Stadium then in Irving [7]), but all four voted to remain in DART (three of them by margins of more than two-to-one).

The 20 miles (32 km) starter system opened on 14 June 1996, which spanned from the Westmoreland Station on the Red Line in Dallas (West Oak Cliff) through downtown Dallas to Pearl Station. There were also two stations on the Blue Line, Morrell and Illinois that opened on that date.

The next stage of the starter line opened on 10 January 1997 when the Red Line was extended from Pearl Station to Park Lane Station. It includes the underground portion of the line between Pearl Station and Mockingbird Station which the site of Dallas's first modern transit village. The northern terminus of the Blue Line was still Pearl Station.[8]

The starter line was completed when the Blue Line was extended from Illinois Station to its current southern terminus at Ledbetter Station. This came on 31 May 1997, nearly one year after the first part of the starter system opened.

The final change to the starter system came on 18 December 2000 when DART opened Cityplace Station, the first subway station in the Southwest, located in the tunnel between Pearl and Mockingbird station under the Tower at Cityplace skyscraper, providing access to the Tower as well as the never built Cityplace West.

Commuter Rail on the old Rock Island right-of-way began during the series of openings of the light rail starter system. On 30 December 1996 the Trinity Railway Express opened the first segment as the South Irving Transit Center was connected to Union Station in downtown Dallas with a stop in the middle at Medical/Market Center Station. The agency had to lease rail cars due to a delay in the current stock until March.

Suburban expansion

DFW map of proposed system

After the success of the light rail starter system, voters approved DART's request to use long-term bonds to expedite the construction of the regional light rail system. While DART had originally planned single-track extensions of the Blue Line to Garland and the Red Line to Richardson and Plano, the starter system was so popular that the agency made plans to double-track the entire route.

Work began on the extensions of the Blue Line and the Red Line on 15 January 1999. Later that same year, on 27 September, the Blue Line designation was extended from Pearl Station to Mockingbird Station, for its eventual expansion to Garland.[8] The first station since 1997 to open came on 24 September 2001, when the Blue Line was extended from Mockingbird Station to the new White Rock Station. A little over a year and a half later, the Blue Line debuted another station as light rail pushed outside the LBJ Loop when the LBJ/Skillman Station opened on 6 May 2002.

The first extension of the Red Line opened on 1 July 2002 when the line added 7 stations from a newly opened Park Lane Station to Galatyn Park Station. Richardson became the first Dallas suburb to be served by light rail.

The Blue Line was completed in its current form on 18 November 2002 when Garland became the second suburb to get light rail service. The two new stations of Forest/Jupiter Station and Downtown Garland Station were opened to the public.

The final stage of the light rail expansion was completed six months ahead of schedule when Plano's first trains ran on 9 December 2002, completing the north central and northeast expansion. Archer Western Contractors is the Construction Management and General Contractor officials building the current rail extensions to Carrollton and Elam Creek.[citation needed]

Passengers waiting at the Hampton Station.

Green and Orange Lines

On 3 July 2006, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approved a US$700 million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) — the largest grant ever awarded to DART — to kick-start a US$2.5 billion expansion of the light rail system. Now under construction, this phase will include two new light rail lines that will double DART's existing light rail mileage.[9] Construction began in September 2006. When the project is complete in 2013, DART's light rail system will have doubled to 90 miles (145 km).[10]

The Green Line began operation on September 14, 2009 with a route from downtown Dallas southeast to Fair Park; this short route was scheduled to open in time to service the 2009 State Fair of Texas. On December 6, 2010 the line extended further to Pleasant Grove, as well as continuing northwest from Victory Station to Farmers Branch and Carrollton; both extensions, completing the Green Line.[11]

The northern end of the line connects with the A-train line run by the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA).[12] This line connects Denton to Carrollton, with stops in Lewisville and Highland Village. The commuter train may stop in other Denton County cities, should they choose to join the DCTA.

The second line, the Orange Line will run concurrently with the Green Line from downtown Dallas to just past Love Field Airport, where it will branch off toward Irving with eventual service to DFW Airport. DART is cooperating with DFW and Love Field to link the two airports via rail. The line will run through Las Colinas and connect to the Las Colinas APT System. DART had preliminary plans for the Orange Line to run concurrently with the Red Line from downtown Dallas to LBJ/Central Station.[13] Current maps have the Orange Line's terminus at Pearl Station in downtown Dallas.

In maps before 2006, DART labeled the Pleasant Grove to Carrollton route the "Orange Line", and the Irving route was the "Purple Line". Green was generally used on DART maps to denote the route of the Trinity Railway Express. By the time construction started, DART was using the new "Green Line" designation as part of its marketing efforts, saying "Like the color green, this line is a symbol of our city on the move."[14]

2030 Plan

In 2010, citing deficits and drops in revenue, DART has scrapped much of their 2030 plan.[15]

In October 2006, the DART Board of Directors unanimously approved the following measures for the next round of rail expansion.[16]

  • A 2.9-mile (4.7 km) light rail extension of the Blue Line to Bonnie View Road and Interstate 20 to the new SouthPort intermodal port in southeast Dallas. This line will terminate just north of Lancaster and Hutchins, cities that are not currently members of DART.
  • A 4.3-mile (6.9 km) light rail extension of the Red Line south to Red Bird Lane. This line will terminate just short of Duncanville, another non-DART city, and pass near the headquarters of AAFES.
  • A 4.3-mile (6.9 km) light rail extension of the Orange Line along Scyene Road to approximately Masters Drive, just short of non-DART member city Mesquite.
  • A 6-mile (10 km) light rail line in West Dallas along Fort Worth Avenue or Singleton to Loop 12/Jefferson Boulevard, terminating just east of Grand Prairie, which also did not join DART. No color designation has been given for this planned line.
  • A station for the Lake Highlands neighborhood of northeast Dallas on the Blue Line, between White Rock Station and LBJ/Skillman Station. The area previously opposed rail service, so the initial line was built through the area without a station at the turn of the century. The new station opened on December 6, 2010 becoming the first component of the 2030 plan to be completed and the first infill station in DART's system.[17] This is a key component of the new Lake Highlands Town Center TOD development.[18]
  • A nearly 26-mile (42 km) Cotton Belt Rail Line commuter service in the east-west Cotton Belt corridor from the Red Line in Plano to DFW International Airport. This line would provide rail service to the existing bus transfer station in Addison and would intersect the Green Line at Downtown Carrollton Station. The line would pass through Coppell, which pulled out of DART in 1989. No color designation has been given for this planned line.

DART's 2030 plan also calls for a comprehensive network of enhanced and rapid bus corridors consisting of 77 miles (124 km) of enhanced bus service corridors and 20 miles (32 km) of rapid bus service corridors with strengthened and new express bus service. The plan also calls for additions to the current 31 miles (50 km) of high occupancy vehicle lanes to 116 miles (187 km).

The final 2030 plan included several changes from the draft plan released in July 2006. Removed from the final plan was a 6.3-mile (10.1 km) branch of the Red Line from Forest Lane Station to the Addison Transit Center, which would have included several miles of subway under Interstate 635. DART officials cited the line's high cost, US$700 million, and lack of strong support from the city of Dallas. The Blue Line extension to the Dallas Southport Center (intermodal terminal) was added after strong pressure from Dallas officials. Also, the proposed light rail line serving West Dallas was not originally considered as a priority for rail service.

The Cotton Belt corridor plans continued to generate controversy right up to the day of the vote on the 2030 plan. DART leaned toward diesel powered commuter rail for the Cotton Belt corridor, similar to the Trinity Railway Express. However, the line would pass through affluent Far North Dallas neighborhoods. The neighborhood formed the Cotton Belt Concerned Coalition to fight the line in 1990. The group made a concession in 2006 to allow electric light rail vehicles on the line to avoid perceived air and noise pollution associated with diesel rail. The group also proposed that the line be placed in a below-ground trench. These proposals were accepted by the City of Dallas in June 2006 in a unanimous resolution. DART, however, balked at the cost of trenching the line, which they estimated at $250 million. This set up a confrontation between DART and the city of Dallas, which appoints eight of the board's 15 members. The final plan compromised by promising $50 million "to help address neighborhood concerns".[19]

The current freight line runs just south of the Downtown Plano Station on the Red Line, but DART maps of the 2030 plan show the line will route to the nearby Bush Turnpike station, the nearest station to the south of downtown Plano.[20] The Cotton Belt line runs through former DART member city Coppell between Carrollton and DFW Airport; although no station locations are included in the plan, the promise of a future station could entice Coppell into rejoining the agency.

See also

Downtown Dallas from the Trinity River.jpg Dallas-Fort Worth portal


  1. ^ http://www.houstontomorrow.org/livability/story/dallas-green-line-begins-service/
  2. ^ http://www.dart.org/news/news.asp?id=963
  3. ^ Facts:SLRV (DART Fact Sheets)
  4. ^ Money woes will force DART to cut jobs, rail plans Dallas Morning News
  5. ^ http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/042710dnmetdart.37eb390.html
  6. ^ Kelley, Chris (June 16, 1996). "Last original staffer delivered train on time, within budget". The Dallas Morning News, p. 31A.
  7. ^ http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/1996/07/22/editorial2.html Keep DART in Irving - Dallas Business Journal
  8. ^ a b Dallas Light Rail
  9. ^ http://www.dart.org/news.asp?ID=714
  10. ^ http://www.dart.org/mis.asp?zeon=DARTRailDouble
  11. ^ Solis, Dianne (June 10, 2009). "Officials reshaping downtown Carrollton around light-rail hopes". Dallas Morning News. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/060909dnmetoldtown.4a65d43.html. Retrieved June 10, 2009. 
  12. ^ Peterson, Matt (June 20, 2011). "A-train railway begins rolling, carrying commuters from Denton to Carrollton". The Dallas Morning News. http://thescoopblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/06/a-train-railway-begins-rolling.html. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  13. ^ NW Corridor FEIS, Figure 2-19 LRT Operating Plan
  14. ^ Community Meeting/Public Hearing Notices - DART Green Line Expansion; 16 November 2006
  15. ^ "Money woes will force DART to cut jobs, rail plans," by Michael A. Lindberger (The Dallas Morning News; Wednesday, April 28, 2010)
  16. ^ DART's 2030 plan
  17. ^ DART.org - Blue Line Lake Highlands Station (accessed November 27, 2010)
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ DART green-lights 40 miles of new rail for 2030
  20. ^ DART 2030 plan map

External links

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