DART's CFO and Linda Koop Talk About How Streetcars Will Be Funded and When They'll Operate (Weekdays Only, Unless ...)

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So. David Leininger, Dallas Area Rapid Transit's chief financial officer, and council member Linda Koop just called to talk -- what else? -- streetcars, on both the DART board and city council's to-do lists tonight and tomorrow. And Leininger made it very clear: While rider revenues for the next few decades are expected to run at a deficit, the streetcar line from Union Station to near Methodist Hospital will be "heavily subsidized," and, as a result, by as late as 2039, DART and the city of Dallas and the North Central Texas Council of Governments expect there to be as much as $6.39 million left in the reserves.

"After 30 years," Leininger says, "come back and talk to me, and we'll discuss where the money's going to come from."

Till then, he says, the operations will be "fully covered by a combination of income" from several sources -- not just the $22 million being shifted from the Love Field People Mover, but $1.5 million annually from the Oak Cliff Gateway TIF District, the Downtown Dallas Improvement District and "a portion of Downtown Dallas and Oak Cliff parking revenues," per DART's docs. He also says "there will be a modest amount of advertising revenue -- in-car billboards or streetcar wraps, based on DART's experience for what people will pay for eyeball exposure, and that's a limited number."

Says Leininger, DART's pitching in $22 mil from that Green Line-to-Love Field line, with $9 million going to fund the cars themselves. "The balance," he says, "will go into financial reserves, which will be drawn down over time and cover everything from labor costs to vehicle servicing and electric costs -- everything associated with running the streetcars." Says the CFO, "the operating cost is really about $500,000 a year with some periodic costs every eight to 10 years that will run around $700,000 or $800,000 -- the so-called 'mid-life overhauls' of the cars and the line."

Says Koop, the money on hand will be "sufficient to fully cover the full obligation up till 2039."

Now, about those operating hours ...

As has been said here many, many times before: The Union Station-to-Oak Cliff line is considered the "starter line," the spine of a much larger expansion planned ... well, whenever there are funds enough to cover it. As Koop says, the next phase of the streetcar project will extend from Bishop Arts on the Oak Cliff side all the way to Pearl Street downtown and the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority's trolleys, themselves a recipient of a $4.9 million federal Urban Connector grant.

"We did drive that route the other day," says Koop, referring to yesterday's meeting of the council's Transportation and Environment Committee, "so everyone got an idea of the potential along the way.

When that'll happen is anyone's guess. But Leininger's fond of the start-small approach: "It's very fortuitous," he says. "There are a lot of things people don't know about these new-technology streetcars, and it's not bad to do a shakedown" before launching a large-scale expansion.

And, he and Koop remind, not everything's yet set in stone -- not even operation hours. Because, yes, Koop says that right now, the streetcars are only scheduled to run during weekdays. "But that could change as we move through the documents," she says, noting that the hours were set to coincide with shift changes at Methodist Hospital.

"It would be fairly easy to [add weekends] if ithere's a ridership demand that justified additional ridership hours," DART's CFO adds. "It wouldn't surprise me that once in operation, there's some additional incentive to cover that from the property owners at that end of rthe world. We just need to get it all sorted out."
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Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Nobody has really mentioned this but another big city project, the Zang Triangle apartments, will be at the terminus of this starter line. They are another project receiving City of Dallas Regional Center (CDRC) foreign investment, so maybe somehow this is all connected. Maybe CDRC can be tapped to invest in the next phase of the line?

scottindallas
scottindallas

Why is only the OC TIF being brought to the party. There are 15 TIFs for Downtown, how is it that none of those can bring something to the party? This is the job of the media, get on it! since, you're obviously not bringing us a SXSW.

bink sez
bink sez

Excuse me. What world are these people living in? Oak Cliff Transit Authority is the party that first came up with the idea of the streetcar running from downtown to Bishop Arts and eventually forming a large loop through north Oak Cliff. Lovely how once the Feds got interested in the OCTA plan instead of the' johnny-come-lately' Dallas plan and initially awarded funds for the Oak Cliff project, Dallas's Park Cities Power Brokers jumped into the mix and of course then the incompetents at DART had to be brought in.....Strange, that a streetcar that is only going to run from downtown to Methodist Hospital--oh, I mean, Beckley Avenue, during weekdays that will have to be, quote 'heavily subidized until 2039' than these people need to go back to the drawing board. As much as I am a supporter of streetcars, bikes and all forms of mass transit this plan is just ludicrous. Of course, it has all the right Dallas folks that Sharon Boyd calls "our Downtown Betters" taking charge. These are those fine men and women who always know how things should be done 'for the good of Dallas' but never listen to anyone else anywhere else where such plans already are succesfully working. Go figure! Another potentially great idea being screwed up and micro-managed to death by Dallas--oh if only we lived in a real city and not a faux one!

Alex Roderer
Alex Roderer

look dude this is just the start to it. eventually they want it to cover 40 miles of the city but they need to get their foot in the ground remember when the dart train first started it didnt go anywhere! but in 2012 we will have 90 miles of track!

md
md

It's not really strange the streetcar will go from downtown to Methodist Hospital because that's as far as the federal money goes. It's not really surprising the streetcar will have to be heavily subsidized either as there's no great demand or need for it, which is why it was not a priority before the federal money was granted.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

In the I rode the bus back and forth to work for years terms. It really doesn't really go to Methodist Hospital. It stops two nice city blocks short .The Street car rider will walk two blocks passing two Parking garages and in turn will be passed the bus,buses they could have caught downtown as it continues the last 1000 or less feet and drops its passengers with in a few steps of the covered awnings of the Hospital at Colorado and Bishop.

So do we expect the riders to make that life stye change and walk the two blocks or continue ride the same buses they ride today ?

Alex Roderer
Alex Roderer

they need to start somewhere sir eventually you will get to work on the street car again just as you did with your father before it closed or whatever!

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

It's the suburbs fault.

Alex Roderer
Alex Roderer

how is this the suburbs faul? this was actually brought about by a group of citizens in oak cliff not some PTA moms in plano.

bink sez
bink sez

Bink Sez is also having trouble typing today and the syntax is a little off as well--but you get the drift.

cp
cp

I have that exact transit map (along with several, older and much, much older ones) in my desk drawer that I managed to find hidden away someplace years ago..... But it's nice to know what I can sell them for if ever need some extra ca$h!!

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