What's Wrong with DART? The Suburbs.

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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No, no, no -- not that same old crap again about how we need to get more suburbs to join Dallas Area Rapid Transit, our regional rail system. The suburbs are what's wrong with DART. Screw the suburbs. Dallas needs to quit DART and let the suburbs go build their own damn rail system.

There's a new push now to charge higher fares on the trains for passengers who live in suburbs that are not DART members. It's a way of blackmailing those cities into joining: Hey, if you don't join DART, we'll charge your citizens more to ride the train, and they'll get mad and vote you out of office.

There are so many problems with that reasoning. Where do I start? First of all, suburban people don't know how to vote. They don't even know that they live in municipalities. They think their subdivisions are their towns.

But worse than that, we don't want more of them to join DART anyway. They've been nothing but dead weight from the beginning.

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If Dallas could toss them all out or just quit DART itself and start its own rail system, we might be able to build something worth having, instead of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood toot-toot.

The suburbs are why we've spent 28 years building a strung-out toot-toot to take you out to the boondocks instead of a heavy-rail subway system downtown that could have created a truly car-free community. People could be living the cool life downtown -- no cars, no Tea Party members, all high rises -- if we hadn't gotten drunk and married the suburbs when this whole thing started.

Here's the immediate problem with the money. The 13 cities that belong to DART collect a 1-percent sales tax that goes to DART. That money makes up more than 75 percent of DART's income.

Much of the growth in DART's ridership base is coming from people who don't live in the member cities that pay in. That's a bad thing, because it costs DART money every time a passenger gets on board -- more than four bucks.

This gets complicated.

A single-ride train fare is $1.75. But it costs DART almost seven bucks to carry a person one-way on a train. You might think that at least they're ahead a buck 75 every time a foreigner gets on board. But no, because then they have to add more trains. They need the sales tax money to cover their costs, and only member cities pay them sales tax.

But the more suburbs they add to the membership, the more pressure they have to build toot-toots out to the suburbs. I remember a serious debate in the '90s when some of the member 'burbs were threatening to pull out, and some Dallas members of the DART board were saying don't let the door hit you in the ass.

The thinking was this: If Dallas didn't have to kowtow to the 'burbies, we could keep our own damn tax money and start building something real for a change. As it is now, we just get screwed. DART has even reneged on its contractual obligation to build a second rail line downtown so they can keep building toot-toots to the boonies.

And by the way, if we quit? All of the existing lines cross through downtown Dallas. So if we did quit, we could also tell the suburbs they need to pay us a nice fat troll toll to come through downtown.

We could set up like Billy the Kid. We could stop the trains and say, "Instead of paying us a $5 subsidy, how about you just give us your watches."

We need to shake the suburbs off our asses, and DART is a good place to start.

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82 comments
unwelcome guest
unwelcome guest

Well seems you know exactly how much tax revenue DART gets from those lousy suburbs, How much ad revenue does the observer get from all those shitty non-Dallas business, or are you a not for profit?

Alex Roderer
Alex Roderer

i dont know about that jim its only fair dart needs the money to expand and how are they going to do that when cities are free loading like this! make them join the damn system it should be mandatory its not like every person can afford a car

iamronburgundy
iamronburgundy

Oh and what about all the people who live in North Dallas? I don't mean Preston Hollow or even Bent Tree. I mean NORTH Dallas, up by UTD, if they ride the rail where do they go???

Galatyn Parkway/Campbell Road.

According to this plan, their tax revenue would be taken and given to the wonderful patrons of the dead downtown area to help drag their drunk ass between Dicks Last Resort and Deep Sushi.

iamronburgundy
iamronburgundy

This is shock jock stuff first of all. Jim posts the same crap every time because people (like myself) respond angrily, and he get's more and more followers. Kinda like some jerkoff ESPN "journalist" writing a 10k word essay a few years ago about how Nolan Ryan is the most overrated pitcher in the history of baseball.

I would like to know if anyone has estimated the amount of sales tax revenue within the Dallas city limits comes from patrons who live in suburbs. I live in Garland, but I work in Dallas, and buy lunch, shop, see movies, go to shows all in Dallas. In-fact, my family and I rarely spend time in Garland at all. Everything that we want to do is in Dallas.

So how would Dallas' tax revenue stream look if you take allllll of the scumbag suburbians out of the mix???? (BTW I get that this is purely hypothetical and probably impossible to calculate, just food for thought)

GAA
GAA

I called the DART (214-979-1111) hot line and while I was on hold I heard an interesting statistic. If a person commuted only on public transportation you would save an average of $9,000 a year. It got me thinking. $9,000 x 10 years= $90,000. Eureka!

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

So, as a long time boonie-resident (actual boonies, not a suburb) we shouldn't be able to jump on DART at a Plano or Richardson station since we're leeches? And, we can't drive into Dallas since it should be a carless city and 75, 30, etc. should come down? Where does that leave us with our tax dollars for and jobs in Dallas? Are hitching posts and watering troughs going to pop up? (In Fort Worth, that's perfectly acceptable, of course.) I kid... sort of....

Dan Brantley
Dan Brantley

Isn't DART more than trains? Hasn't DART been running buses out to Addison and other cities since day one? The trains are the show pieces, but to say suburbs have gotten nothing for their money is not correct. Trains only make sense when there is density to support them, running ten minutes between stops out in the 'burbs will always be a money loser.On the other hand with the DART board making decisions like putting the Love Field station on the opposite side of the airport from the terminal - the terminal where everybody wants to go - so they have to build a multi-million dollar people mover to get to the terminal... I think the reason "the longest light rail system in the US" loses money has more to do with politics and management than who has trains and who doesn't.

Brian
Brian

Is it completely out of the realm of possibilities to charge a fare that would at least cover operating cost. Less trains needed, but sales tax would only be needed for capital costs and subsidizing buses. That way, the upper middle class suburbanites that we built the system for still get to ride it and it wouldn't matter where they came from.

Montemalone
Montemalone

The streetcar will inevitably make a comeback throughout the city inside LBJ, though starting inside Loop 12. DART rail has become more or a commuter rail like Metra in Chicago, or the many lines leading into NYC.With the grid system of main streets in Dallas, a streetcar system would make a lot of sense. Electrically powered (even borrow some of those solar panels from the water taxis we aren't using) single or maybe double cars.Should have lines down Lemmon (connect Cityplace subway to a lot of people), Oak Lawn/Preston, Cedar Springs (connecting Love Field to Downtown through Oak Lawn and Uptown), Haskell Ave (Fair Park line), Greenville Ave, Skillman, Abrams, a line down Garland Rd in East Dallas to Grand Ave to Fari Parlk DART, and eventually lines up/down Inwood Rd/Hampton, Lemmon/Marsh Ln to Carrollton, Inwood to Galleria then alongside Tollway, and crosstown lines on Walnut Hill, Royal, Forest. All those lines would intersect and feed into the DART rail lines leading to the burbs.A lot of buses could be removed form city streets and moved to the burbs to feed the rail stations.If we're gonna dream, dream bug, right?

McDoom
McDoom

That's some solid Whitt-esque trolling there Jim

Buckeye
Buckeye

Yes. Kick the suburbs out of DART. Close their rail stations. Eliminate their bus routes. They can keep their damn sales tax. Dallas doesn't need it.

BTS
BTS

As I see it, the suburbs are going to be more and more dependent on rail lines. Only cheap oil made living in the suburbs affordable. Without cheap oil the suburbs are screwed without rail's help. As one who rides the train constantly I notice that the main riders are the working poor. A lot of business would suffer without their low paid workers. There are not as many poor in the suburbs. So without Rail and Buses it would make businesses a lot more expensive to operate in the burbs. It would be more fair if Dart was a regional transit system where every city and town paid into the system.

Brandon
Brandon

Come on Jim, why are you hating on the suburbs? I love the personality of Dallas but im sorry if I dont want to pay $300,000 for a 50 year old 1,800 sq foot house in Lakewood. Im sorry if i dont want my kids to go to the worst school district in the state where half the school doesnt even speak English. Dart needs the burbs and burbs need Dart, just live with it. Their is nothing wrong with living in Dallas, lower the rent and get better schools or pay for my private school and Id be happy to come back.

Hannibal_Lecter
Hannibal_Lecter

"People could be living the cool life downtown -- no cars, no Tea Party members, all high rises -- if we hadn't gotten drunk and married the suburbs when this whole thing started."

The problem being, of course, that only 0.5% of the population wants to live like that. If there really was a demand in Dallas to live like termites, you would see condo and apartment conversions downtown left and right -- without the taxpayers paying off the developers to do it. Instead, all you see is things like the Davis Building getting bought out of receivership last week, and The Metropolitan resorting to auctioning off the units they couldn't sell. Heck, the Village Apartments has more residents than all of downtown Dallas.

Density is one of those things that everybody wants -- for other people. But very few people want it for themselves, or in the neighborhoods. Hey, Jim, why don't you try to get the zoning changed to allow for a highrise along your stretch of Bryan, and see how the neighbors feel about that?

(BTW, before someone posts the semi-obligatory "go back to your suburb!", I live on Commerce Street. I just have the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that I'm in a very small minority who wants this lifestyle).

pak152
pak152

"People could be living the cool life downtown -- no cars, no Tea Party members, all high rises "

sounds like Schutze is pining for the Big Apple. why not sell the Swiss ave manse and move downtown?

Anonymous
Anonymous

So I get that Jim is sort of prone to idiotic rantings these days, but isn't his general premise here somewhat sound? Dallas should take care of itself and tell the region to screw off? For everyone who has ever said they want government to act more like a business, here's your time to put your money where your mouth is.

Guest
Guest

I will note that when I regularly rode DART (which was, admittedly, not at traditional rush hour time) to and from the Bush Turnpike station (which, I suppose, is in Richardson), the train was mostly empty until about Forest, and it would get progressively fuller from there (until I got off at St. Paul Station downtown).

On the return trip, the train would be full when I got on at St. Paul and would have a handful of riders get off at the stops along the way until Forest when at least half the remaining passengers would get off. By the time we got back to Richardson, there would only be a handful of passengers left on the train (and the few times when I went from Parker Rd. Station in Plano, I was the only one left on the train at the last stop).

At that time of night, at least, the majority of the riders were getting on and getting off at Dallas stations rather than suburban stations.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall

Possibly some of the stupidest comments ever on one of the stupidest articles ever. I exempt "Gabe" who actually provided hard facts.

Gabe
Gabe

Jim, by 2009, DART had collected some 7 billion in Sales tax revenue. Dallas contributed 3.9 billion. The suburbs, combined, contributed 3.1 billion.

I count 11 stations in the suburbs, and 44 in Dallas. Every single one of the Dallas stations opened at the same time or before the suburb stations on the same line. Do you want the rest of the math? It doesn't look good...

source: http://forum.dallasmetropolis.... and http://www.dallasnews.com/news...

Phelps
Phelps

no Tea Party members

It's amazing how you can shoot your argument all to shit with four poorly chosen words.

Seriously. You had me on your side until you decided to shit on my head.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Plano at least has a street repair budget. Pow!

We're by no means perfect, but I'll agree that DART doesn't impact my live-in-the-burbs-work-in-Dallas-life. That said, a rail line that goes from Collin County to the airport would be mega-successful.

md
md

Cheap land is another factor that made living in the suburbs affordable. As inner cities become more affluent, the working poor are being pushed out to the suburbs. Not that companies in the suburbs have ever had a problem finding workers that live nearby.

ParleyPPratt
ParleyPPratt

The suburbs will just put their businesses in the suburbs. It's the 21st century. Technology has made it that we don't have to go into Dallas except for the occasional meeting...

Phelps
Phelps

I'm curious as to what you think those rail cars run on, if not oil, coal and nukes. Unicorn farts? Political campaign emissions?

LakeWWWooder
LakeWWWooder

However, Lakewood has better schools than most of the 'burbs.

JustAnnie
JustAnnie

I have the option to work downtown & looked into moving into a couple of the high rises downtown. Visions of a car-free life quickly vanished when I drove around the area on a week night and saw how dead & very dark the 2-3 blocks were that I'd have to walk from the train to the complexes I was looking at. As a woman, no thanks. I'll keep my nice N Dallas (yes Dallas, not a burb) townhouse & keep driving. Dallas has much bigger problems than a broken DART system. I would have loved that lifestyle but not in those conditions.

G_David
G_David

I believe it's actually Bryan Parkway, Swiss's little retarded half-brother ;) And by retarded, I obviously meant "differently-abled".

Jim Bob Guthrie
Jim Bob Guthrie

If we could build a city and keep out all car lovers, Dallas would be the best place on earth.

Gabe
Gabe

hehe..."hard" facts...

JimS
JimS

Gabe, how about a link?

Phelps
Phelps

To clarify, this line changed the whole thing from "how can we make DART work and be a real system" to "how can we keep those ooky conservatives out of our nice liberal enclave?" I identify with the Tea Party. I live in Dallas proper. I want to see Dallas rail be efficient. I would have been on your side had you not implied that the whole thing was intended to drive me out of Dallas.

Seriously. Back when DART was recruiting the suburbs to be members, Mesquite passed on joining because the racists thought that buses would bring in black people. Now you are doing the same thing -- if we have a subway, we'll drive the conservatives out. It's just as ugly both ways.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Not now that 121 is completed...

Love me some 121.

wascallywabbit
wascallywabbit

Lakewood is a 'burb. It's just closer to the skyline.

srace glick
srace glick

we built this city. we built this city on ro... erm.. nevermind..

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

What sound does a reporter posting an emotional, unfounded rant on the interwebs make when they get proven wrong?

See below...

Gabe
Gabe

and I should say that the Dallas stations opened at the same time or before the suburb stations on each SPOKE...I have no idea if the south part of the red line opened at the same time as the north part. But I know Richardson didn't have it's red line stations before Dallas had theirs. Ditto Plano, Garland, and FB-Carrollton.

Gabe
Gabe

edited for sources

Jim Bob Guthrie
Jim Bob Guthrie

Ironically, Mesqutians are now the people no one would want to be on a DART train with!

Coleman
Coleman

huh...I was actually on the fence about the whole thing UNTIL he said "how do we keep the mouth-breathing Tea Party scumbags out of Dallas?" Then I hopped right on board. Weird.

Montemalone
Montemalone

If subways will rid us of conservatives, I say drill baby drill.

JimS
JimS

You're right. You;re right. You got me. I apologize. You can't see it, but I am at this very mment banging my head on my desk in shame. I didn't mean tea Party Members. I meant Christians.

Gabe
Gabe

Jim, I actually do agree with your conclusion, sort of. DART has reached the point where it's train lines could be seen as starting to promote sprawl. It needs to concentrate on keeping the economic and cultural engine of the region connected.

But historically, assuming Dallas did trains on its own, and all other things being equal, they couldn't have afforded the system they have now, running to their own inner ring suburbs, much less a subway throughout downtown.

BELO's angling for the more expensive D2 line is a bigger problem - dig up your notes on that and let it rip.

JimS
JimS

Thanks. That helps. It doesn't really speak to my point, however. Dallas pays half the money but has to buy into a light rail system that des nothing to promote density downtown. Regional development is not a cooperative effort -- it's a competition. For the city to win, it needs ot husband its resources and spend this money instead on heavy rail downtown. Looks to me like half the money it took to build this big mess would ave bene more thna enough to build a tenth of the line , but all of it downtonw and a lot of it underground. No?

Coleman
Coleman

But Jim, cat ladies are more sane than Tea Party scumbags. I mean, if we draw that line at cat-tards, can we keep out the lower levels of crazy as well?

JimS
JimS

I meant cat-tards.

jfpo
jfpo

Please refer to Tea Party members by their proper name - "Birthbaggers." Thank you.

JimS
JimS

cat-tards, I call 'em.

G_David
G_David

If you REALLY want to piss off the masses, might as well lump cat lovers in there as well.

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