Public transportation officials predict packed commuter trains, overflowing parking lots and cramped buses today as an anticipated quarter-million fans flow into Dallas for the Mavericks' triumphant parade through downtown.
"Public transportation may not be the answer for everyone," said Mark Ball, a spokesman for Dallas Area Rapid Transit. "The DART system cannot carry everyone at one time, so we're asking people to come early."
Ball said commuter trains - especially the red line from Plano and blue line from Garland - will almost certainly be overwhelmed by riders. About 75,000 people ride the trains each workday. That could triple today.
Even so, transit officials decided not to tinker with the timing of the system - by adding more trains more often - until 9 a.m., an hour before the parade begins.
"Our No. 1 priority is to get our morning commuters to work on time," he said.
Buses will be standing by at three stations on the red line - Bush Turnpike, Arapaho and Mockingbird - to ferry overflow commuters to the West End.
After the parade, 60 buses will be deployed at the Victory and West End stations to take commuters out of downtown. The TRE will have two trains with four extra cars at Union Station to take fans back to Fort Worth after the parade.
Hundreds of police officers will be watching today's parade - along the route, in the air, on rooftops and even from behind desks.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown says his department is ready for anything along the roughly 1.25-mile parade route. If there's trouble, hundreds of additional officers will be ready to sweep in, some with riot gear.
Interlocking barricades will keep crowds on sidewalks, and all the Mavericks players will be riding on raised platforms so that fans can see them from near and far.
Dallas police plan to communicate information on traffic and other developing issues via social media, including Twitter (@DallasPD).
Key times: The parade starts at 10 a.m. today, but you will want to get downtown early. Fans may line up behind barricades along the route starting at 7 a.m. All streets along the parade route will close at 8 a.m., and cutting across the route will become impossible after that time. The parade begins at the Dallas Convention Center and proceeds down Young Street before turning right onto Houston Street toward American Airlines Center. For an interactive map with restroom and transportation locations, see dallasnews.com.
Post-parade event: The Mavericks will host an event inside American Airlines Center for season ticket holders. The extravaganza will be shown on the big TV screens in Victory Plaza, but only about 10,000 people will be allowed into the area.
Gear up for the heat: You're advised to wear light clothing and sunscreen and drink plenty of water.
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