Slow Train Coming: First Look At DART's First Streetcar Audition Downtown

Categories: Transportation
DowntownStreetcar_Kinkisharyo1.jpg
Photos by Patrick Michels
Kinkisharyo's ameriTRAM takes a bow through downtown this morning.
With a crowd of DART execs, reporters and folks who'd apparently misplaced their cars looking on at downtown's Akard Station, the Kinkisharyo ameriTRAM streetcar made its first arrival a little after 11:30 this morning, just a hair behind schedule.

The first of two audition runs through downtown carried VIPs, including DART president Gary Thomas, down to Victory and back. As DART spokesman Morgan Lyons pointed out, its connections to the overhead power lines were retracted, giving it a low profile as it crawled down Pacific Avenue past a curious crowd.

Those on-board lithium-ion batteries sure sounded impressive this morning -- they'll carry the train five miles on a single charge! -- but I heard one guy at the station turn to his buddy with an even more novel theory: "That's one of those, what do they call that, superconductor, that's suckin' the power outta thin air."

DART officials said they'll be considering at least three other streetcar models, including at least one more that ought to be making the rounds in Dallas before they make the call.

Jump for a couple more shots of the Kinkisharyo in action.

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Thrilled Dallasites welcome the future of downtown people-moving to DART's Akard Station.
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DART president Gary Thomas holds on tight as the ameriTRAM departs.
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24 comments
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Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Are we going to have,buses,trains,and streetcars on the same streets ?

NealK
NealK

I hope they go with the Kinkisharyo. Then we can call it the Kinki.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I'd prefer vintage styled streetcars.

DART Rider
DART Rider

So go ride the M-Line already.http://www.mata.org/

I'd prefer the most futuristic, streamlined, anime-bug-eyed, aerodynamic, robot-caterpillar-looking, Japanese-designed, Buy America-compliant rolling stock my (and millions of others') tax dollars can buy.

One question for the train geeks or any Kinkisharyo people lurking about: Can this thing go from overhead wires to battery and back without stopping in between modes? Or does it have to pause to adjust the pantograph?

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

Correct, no stopping. On-the-fly. Wouldn't be very useful otherwise.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob

Cool looking lil street car looks like a step forward in the modern day transportation society

cp
cp

I'll admit, this style is a lot cuter than I thought it would be.

shrubstex
shrubstex

Now How do I get to Love Field for a flight?

cp
cp

You take the Green Line to the Inwood/"Love Field" stop and walk two miles. Or you take a cab from there. Or, what's the point? Just drive.

dallasmay
dallasmay

Looks like fun. Any word on how the battery charging will work? I'm trying to imagine a battery swap at either end or something. Or does the thing really travel it's five miles then the whole think is out of commission for a few hours.

Gabe
Gabe

The car does have power lines, they were just retracted in this case.

Because these cars are so much smaller, they can pull more power from the lines than they need to run. They can use the extra juice to recharge the batteries. This would allow the cars to run for up to five miles without overhead lines, meaning you can lay five miles of tracks without overhead lines, saving capital costs. These costs are offset, however, by the additional cost of the battery units. Li-ion isn't cheap.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Seeing how the city wanted Love Field to have a Texas-themed joint and the tie-in of the Texas Giant cars to stupid stereotypes, shouldn't there some bull horns on the front or horses painted on the side or something? We can't have modern streetcars! What will the tourists expecting cows and oil wells and ten gallon hats think?

Where's the stagecoach-looking streetcar, dammit? Better bring that out for a test, we have expectations to meet!

Dallas_Joe_Schmo
Dallas_Joe_Schmo

You laugh and scoff, but I think Dallas misses out on some real money in the way of visitors because we don't have anything to go along with the Dallas TV show image. FTW had 10k people watching the cattle drive during the superbowl and won out with sundance square over all the dallas locations. I'd say there is nothing wrong with having a giant oil well fountain spewing water into 10 gallon hats below, or a stagecoach looking streetcar that will get more riders than any DART train we have.IF there's no stopping the buildout, as long as they have AC that works when it's 110 in August, I'll be happy to ride.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Dallas isnt missing out on it, it doesnt want it. Dallas wants to be uber douchy futuristic and New yorky, but instead of keeping its roots and growing oragnically, it forces everything and has turned into one big clusterfuck city, whose citizens cant even figure out where its going or what its doing.

guest
guest

5 miles doesn't seem very far for a charge

Lakewoodhobo
Lakewoodhobo

Any update on whether Dallas will get some of the streetcar money that Ft. Worth refused? Imagine if the starter line could be extended to Bishop Arts and through downtown on Commerce.

ian
ian

Answer at the Oak Cliff streetcar meeting a month or so ago was no, that the feds took it back and sent it elsewhere.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Wonder how much "juice" the prospective streetcar suppliers will have to spread around Dallas County if they want to be successful?

Tb
Tb

It don't run on thin air! That's just silly. It runs on pickle juice.

guest
guest

Are they still considering some "historical looking" streetcars?

Lakewoodhobo
Lakewoodhobo

Historical looking but still ADA compliant? I don't think those exist.

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