Defending DART? We Think Schutze Might Have Scored Some X at Electric Daisy.

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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I did a thing for DC9 at Night yesterday about how the city didn't do anything wrong at that rave at Fair Park over the weekend, and I got a lot of very positive response in the comments, most of it probably from the people who put on the rave, but it was really nice to hear some flattering things about myself for a change. So I have decided to turn over a new leaf.

From now on instead of attacking governments all the time I may just start defending them. In fact I might even change the name of this deal to "Get On My Lawn." I'd like to keep the shotgun, if you don't mind.

First government I want to defend as part of my totally new deal is DART, which stands for Dallas Area Rapid Transit. They are the government that runs the buses and trains in these parts. They've been taking a hell of a lot of grief from the people at The Dallas Morning News because of an incident during the recent Dallas Mavericks NBA championship celebration.

A DART train stalled in the tunnel leading into the northeast corner of downtown, and the passengers were stuck on it for more than an hour. Finally the passengers couldn't take it anymore, so they forced the door open and walked out of the tunnel on their own.

Ever since then, DART has been denying responsibility for the incident and basically calling the passengers assholes and morons and criminals for getting off the train, not in so many words.

DART board chairman William Velasco said, "I don't care if you sit on that train an hour or an hour and a half or how long. You do not get off." He said it was "about safety," but it was pretty clear from his tone that it was about shutting the hell up and staying in your seat.

Velasco is very handsome.

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DART chair Bill Velasco. See? I told you. Handsome.
DART spokesperson Morgan Lyons suggested that future passengers who act out in the same way could find themselves on a fast train to the calaboose. "Not only is it unsafe to leave a train in an active rail corridor, doing so is against the law," he said.

Lyons was tough, and he was down. He reminded me of Jeff Bridges in True Grit.

DART Chief Executive Officer Gary Thomas said, "Look, they put themselves in danger too, by getting off the train and walking into that tunnel." I thought what Thomas said was so cool, because it was like, "I'm rubber, you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you."

Of course the niggling nanny-state nincompoops at The News got themselves all in a twist because they said DART was being Mr. Meany and doing hurtsy-feelings on the precious little riders who had to walk, wah-wah-wah, about 10 feet through a tunnel. They had an editorial in today's paper about how DART grossly mishandled, in their words, the "stalled train fiasco."

Oh, fiasco-velasco. It was no fiasco. It was a minor blip maybe. But Morning News Metro columnist Jack Floyd had to pile on too from behind the pay wall, about how DART owes the passengers "more than just a scolding."

Oh yeah? Let me tell you people something. DART does not owe its passengers jack! Not jack! The passengers owe DART a ton of money. Did you know that DART loses $4.87 every time a passenger gets on a train, even after he or she pays a fare? Yeah. That's DART's current "fixed route per passenger subsidy."

Do you know why? Because DART has to spend most of its money building bullshit train lines out to loser suburban areas where nobody rides the train anyway. In other words, passengers are nothing but an expensive pain in the ass to DART.

Here's what I suggest, DART. You need to start straightening some of these passengers out! I mean, out! You need to straighten their asses OUT!

Maybe you could start with a new motto or an ad campaign or something. You need to get your true message out. You could have signs on the trains saying: "This is DART. Shut the hell up."

Maybe that's not even strong enough. They're your trains. You've got your own cops all over the place. You could have recorded announcements saying, "See those guys in uniform with the big gnarly flashlights on their hips looking right at you, chump? Don't even think about getting out of that seat until they tell you to, or they will definitely kick your ass."

I think these passengers need to have some consequences once in a while for their behavior. If they're going to keep acting out, there should be a price. Since it costs DART so much money anyway to let them ride the trains, I don't see why DART doesn't just lock the doors every once in a while and run the trains empty.

Pull into the station, act like you're going to let them on, open the doors a crack, then slam them shut and put the pedal to the metal, man. You could have another announcement back in the station while they're standing around like a bunch of dumb asses looking at your dust:

"Suckahs!"

Yeah. Put the riders in time-out for a while and let them just think about how they've been behaving.

Sometimes I think these passengers get confused in their heads or something. They seem to think they own DART. Let me tell them something right here: You passengers don't own squat. Nobody on the DART board has to ask you for your measly little vote to stay in office. DART doesn't have elections. DART belongs to DART. The purpose of DART is DART. You passengers need to pay your sales taxes, pay your fares, shut the hell up and do what DART tells you to do.

I'm so jazzed about this. I love DART. I worship at the altar of DART. I think everybody at DART should get double pay. I think they should be allowed to shoot passengers. All I ask in return: I would appreciate some positive comments here from DART staff expressing their thanks for my support. I don't think that's asking for too much.

This positive shit is great.

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39 comments
Deep-Sigh
Deep-Sigh

Do any big city metro boards have their members publicly elected?   It looks like member city councils appoint folks, with Dallas appointing the most.  I know that Austin has additional reqs that require a certain number of members be elected officials, some have to be on the city council etc.  It looks like changes need to go through the Texas Legislature, has anyone stepped up to take DART on?? Other than Schultze...unless he runs for office.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

"Not only is it unsafe to leave a train in an active rail corridor, doing so is against the law," he said.----------------------------------------------------------

Would it be smart-alecky to suggest that if the train were stalled, the rail corridor is not active?

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Jim, i'm guessing you were on a controlled substance at the time you wrote this..and that's ok, you're a grown man LOL..

What my major issue with DART in this situation was the fact they didn't do their job right. It appeared the trains had power, the conductor, who has only been on the job seven months,should have alerted the passengers concerning the situation, which it sounds like he/she (you cant tell with some of them) failed to do. In the end, DART, Velasco and their hired mouthpiece Bruce "Lying" Lyons decided to shame those who decided to get off and defy their righteous hand. In the end, the board president stepped up and apologized for this mess, like he should've done on Friday of last week. Instead, we have another issue with DART (broken ticket machines, bad customer service, overreacting "meter maid" cops, ect..) we can throw on the ever increasing pile. Ive ridden other transit systems in this county and I can honestly say this is, by far, the worst I have ever seen, no wonder people around here drive and clog the highways, as the "public option" is no better..

dallasmay
dallasmay

What's the "Per Rider" subsidy for a limited access highway like I-635 or US75 again? No, those highways aren't free. Actually they are quite expensive to build. Thousands of times more expensive than light rail. I mean, look at them. They are massive. The Right of Way taking for I-35E alone probably cost more than the entire Green Line (certainly after adjusting for inflation.)

No one has ever thought about that? 

Citizen Kim
Citizen Kim

I think DART should bring inspectors aboard at every DART train stop in Dallas city.  Anyone that is a resident of a suburban area will be pulled off and lined up beside the platform, then efficiently machine-gunned.  Eventually we'll clean the city of those bullsh*t scum from loser suburban areas.

If that's too extreme for you, let's just make them wear a yellow "S" on their clothing - no get to board the train for you!  (Even though you paid for it).  Scum, responsible for all of Dallas' problems.

Would that make you happy, JS?

Judge_Softy
Judge_Softy

F DART and F Velasco - he looks like the illegitimate spawn of Sylvester Stallone and Bill Richardson, with a few drops of Graham Greene dropped into the test tube.

Rooster
Rooster

It took FEMA four days to get water to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

FOUR.

If people have learned nothing else from that experience, is waiting for a governmental bureaucrat to bail you out of the shit you're in can be hazardous to your health.

I mean, these DART clowns were so inept they couldn't even TELL they riders they had nothing to worry about and to stay put.

Paraphrased-not-so-accurate-DART-official-quote:

"Oh, well, er um, we think the driver may have said something about what was wrong with the train, and nobody heard him, um, but even if they didn't hear him they should have just stayed put until one day we got around to saving them. 

I mean, we did so well at communicating what was wrong with the damn train, we'd do an even better job of saving everyone involved.  I'm appalled these scofflaws thought differently."

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Can DART and American Airlines merge? They sound very similar. Maybe we can get a rail line to DFW then, too, and they can lose money getting passengers there AND flying them out.

BobinDallas
BobinDallas

DART has really gone down hill in the 5 years that I have used it each day.  Now the least little weather causes all sorts of problems.  After a rain last night, we sat in the train about 45 minutes AFTER GETTING DOWNTOWN.  DART has now become Dallas Area RISKY Transit.

And, there was no explanation.  That was the problem in the tunnel the other day.  Why can't you simply tell passengers what's wrong?  

If we're not in the tunnel, let passengers get off the train.  I saw one guy this morning who got off between stations and walked to work ... beating the train by several blocks.

Everyone says that the tunnel was built so that the trains would not disturb those rich occupants of Highland Park ... let's put another track right through HP.  Going 6-stories under ground is stupid.  

Other cities are putting in bullet trains.  And, we can't even protect our trains from getting boarded with a bomb carrying terrorist.  Wake up DART.

DART has a very difficult time servicing a normal day's traffic.  Any exception, such as a parade or a football game shuts the line down.  No way that it can handle the surges that most cities handle with ease.

Les Moor
Les Moor

Passengers?!  We don't need no stinking passengers!

JonathanG
JonathanG

Very very good piece Mr. Schutze. Kudos.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

Jim, can we borrow your shotgun? We're sending out a posse to round up these nogooders, who stepped off our beloved train...signed, The Dart Family(they call us the 'Teflon Dons' of the transit community cuz nothin' sticks to us! and we do mean NOTHIN'). P.S. Velasco said ditto on the looks

Jpgreenan
Jpgreenan

I love trains. I like watching them. I like riding them. If I has a chance, I'd sit on a train all day long, even in a dark, hot tunnel.

iamronburgundy
iamronburgundy

I still don't blame the suburbs for the per-rider loss. The surburbs put in their sales tax just like Dallas does. In its name it is "Dallas AREA". For some reason the people in Dallas proper have staked a claim to DART as their own. I don't get it.

I'd also like to see (if it exists.. probably not) a metric on how much sales tax per rider is generated in the Dallas limits from riders of other cities. I think the station-less Town of Addison would like to see that number too. But I'm no mathematician so I can't figure it out.

Jay
Jay

There was a time when I defended DART. Then, one year a couple of days after Thanksgiving when it was snowing myself and a bunch of passengers got stranded on the train when DART just "decided" that they wouldn't run the last THREE TRAINS. When myself and another passenger tried to find out why the three trains that everything from the printed DART schedule, to the website, to the schedule on the platform, said was coming, the cops told us to just leave, no more trains coming, and made us leave the station. Stranded in north dallas, in the snow, in the holiday season. I complained, no one on DART gave a shit or ever bothered to explain what the hell happened. Later, by inquiring on DFWurban forum I found out that they just decided not to run the trains. No updates to passengers. No offer of refund or shuttle service so people stranded god knows where in the cold and snow up and down their line could get home. No subsequent explanation. Nothing. And of course none of the local news outlets were interested in running the story.

Since and before that time, I have limited my contact with DART. But I still can't even begin to number the countless times that a DART train will just stop...and no one will come on the PA to tell the passengers the reason for the delay or when the train can be expected to move again. This is a poorly run organization. Having spent the last year in London riding the tube and buses to and from work and play, I have no more sympathy for the idiocy of DART and no more good wishes. When the tube stops the conductor will IMMEDIATELY get on the PA and explain reasons for the delay and expected ETA. How fucking hard is that? DART is a clusterfuck of incompetence.

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

Did these criminal passengers get any communication from DART when their train stopped?  Could DART have expedited some customer service reps from their pool of goons to reassure these law breakers that they were not being imprisoned or held hostage?  Did these felonious DART customers fear being charged rent, user fees, or election speeches from DART officials and simply voted with their feet?

DART's management seems as incompetent as the politcos, city cheerleaders, and press who keep pushing for more light rail.  With this type of success, they will certainly push the loss per costumer from $4.87 to well over ten bucks and point to it as a success.

Meh.
Meh.

Hey Jim, re: the per-passenger subsidy: I checked the link, hoping to find more info about how the rest of their revenue is generated and didn't find anything. Can you help?

EdS
EdS

DART needs to follow in the footsteps of the MTA's "exit fees." Charlie finally died of natural causes.

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

Brilliant, JS.  May I offer you some of this delicious Irish baby?

TimCov
TimCov

1. If it costs DART $4.87 every time a person uses it. How about we get everybody to save DART some money and not ride DART for a few days.2. If nobody in the suburbs rides DART, why is it that every time I get on/off the blue line in Downtown Garland (first.last stop on the blue line) it is over 1/4 full on the weekend and more than half full on weekdays?

Both DART and the DMN are overreacting to what happened. From the sound of it, the driver should have just opened his door and yelled out to the people "Don't get off the train! We are working on fixing this."

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

good stuff Jim, but you can't keep the gun. Put it down on the floor and step away. Or can I call you Calatrava Lightening?

JimS
JimS

You are certainly right that roads are not free. For the most part, we auto-motorists subsidize them enormously for trucks. But I think you are off on the per passenger costs. Roads are cheaper, until you start putting atmospheric change on the balance sheet, and then they get expensive again.

Rain39
Rain39

Kim, you think your post is funny?

Rtgolden
Rtgolden

I have to question, I live in far north dallas, a little enclave surrounded by carrollton, but in dallas city limits nonetheless.  Am I a suburbanite? or no?

JimS
JimS

I had that idea a long time ago.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

I find that offensive to Graham Greene.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Come on, they're both losing money, AND it's a total pain in the ass to do both at once.  They just elevate the offense.  You gotta appreciate that kind of dedication to detail.

JC
JC

What cities are putting in bullet trains? Are you referring to China?

Rachum
Rachum

I have to agree. If it were DPRT, it would be impossible to pronounce. I think we need the suburbs on this one...

P1Steven
P1Steven

From what i have heard the conductor said NOTHING. Shouldnt DART have some kind of response plan for a situation like this?

JimS
JimS

Very hard to get to. DART's budget used to be pretty easy to find on their page, but I did not succeed in putting my finger on it just now. They have a "financial statements" page that won't load. They have a bujsiness plan page at http://www.dart.org/debtdocume...and if you scroll down,you can sort of find the stuff you are asking about. The rough numbers for their income in this current budget cycle are  Sales Tax Revenues $387.8 M  Federal Funds $249.1 MOperating Revenues $70.8 M Interest Income $17.5 M Other Sources $89.7 MTotal Revs: $814.8That means about 47 percent revenue from sales tax, 30 percent from the federal government, 8 percent from fareboxes. I do not believe that the per passenger subsidy includes capital costs.  Up until this year, DART was borrowing $800 million a year to build new lines. Now all they have to do is pay it back . Oops, sorry. Now all YOU have to do is pay it back..  

TimCov
TimCov

Has it been braised in Guinness?

scottindallas
scottindallas

I think it takes a while for people to appreciate DART.  The Green Line seems to be empty now, but they'll catch on too.  It seems that the Blue line is half full most of the time I ride, in off hours (mid-days and nights)

dallasmay
dallasmay

Atmospheric change is one, but so is law enforcement. How much more does it cost to enforce our highways than it does to enforce our trains? How about the health effects due to tail pipe emissions? How much does that cost? How about the lost land values due to parking lot requirements? How about the lost rise in property values inside the city since we are subsidizing the ex-ex-exurbs. 

(I am not even going to mention Iraq, Afganistan, and Libya which have cost us $1.5 trillion dollars and about 200,000 lives, so that you can continue to drive your car.)

The REAL price of a gallon of gas is at least $15/gallon. 75% of which is subsidized through taxes and debt. So you're welcome. 

BobinDallas
BobinDallas

Haven't researched. Any plans for Dallas?

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

DART have a plan?  A plan to take care of its customers?? I am actually happy the conductor's hand book did not have him mug the passengers for 'value added revenue' or charge them extra for using the space in the train.

Meh.
Meh.

Thanks, Jim. Much appreciated.

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