TX: A better DART bus network isn’t too far off

Dec. 12, 2023
The first round of changes that would be implemented in January, subject to board approval, are pilots to expand GoLink rides between zones.

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to pay exorbitant amounts on car insurance and gas knowing that you’d have a reliable and convenient way to get around the city every day?

Dallas Area Rapid Transit has a long way to get there, but it’s working on making the choice easier for people in its 13 cities across the Dallas area. DART plans to expand its on-demand service in certain neighborhoods as early as next month. By next summer, the agency hopes to realign some of its high-ridership routes in Richardson, Plano and the Love Field area. The agency also plans to bump up frequency of routes network-wide.

In the last year, DART officials have refocused their priorities. After building 93 miles of light-rail, one of the longest systems in the country, they are moving away from new capital projects. It’s encouraging that the agency is prioritizing operations and implementing promised changes to its bus network in a timely way.

The first round of changes that would be implemented in January, subject to board approval, are pilots to expand GoLink rides between zones. Currently, the agency provides on-demand car rides to passengers in areas that don’t have robust rail and bus service. To keep costs low and make sure fixed routes wouldn’t suffer, DART had limited GoLink within small zones — rides were around three miles on average.

Now, DART wants to try providing rides between areas that were separate zones, for example between Rylie and Kleberg, southeast Garland and Rowlett and Preston Hollow and North Dallas. DART also plans to restore the Dixon Circle bus route in South Dallas next month, a change that riders have advocated for repeatedly in public comment at board meetings.

The next round of changes to be implemented in June include realigning DART’s highest ridership bus route, the shuttle that serves the University of Texas at Dallas. There are also plans to provide a new route that would go between the campus and the Arapaho Center light rail station. The changes aim to reduce overcrowding on the bus. A new route in Plano around the Legacy area could also be added.

By September, DART plans to realign bus service in the Love Field area to provide better access to the Dallas County Elections Department and the Mexican consulate. They also envision increasing light rail frequency on weekends to match weekday service.

The transit agency has been meeting with community members in the last two weeks to get their feedback on the proposed changes. There will be a public hearing before the DART board tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the agency’s headquarters at Akard station downtown.

As DART slowly grows its ridership to pre-pandemic levels, focusing on service and frequency are cost-effective ways to significantly improve its ability to attract and retain passengers.

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