Census Report on Transit Use Puts Dallas Area Near the Bottom of List. DART Explains Why.
Also not surprising: the chart on Page 8 that has Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington close to the bottom of the list of major metros where folks use public transportation. The D-FW-A comes in at No. 39, between the Detroit and Memphis areas, with around 3 percent of the region's residents using mass transit.
But DART officials will tell you there are numerous reasons for that low ranking, chief among them: It includes Arlington, for starters, which has no public transportation. And since the figures are for '09, well, that doesn't include the Green Line. And, DART spokesman Morgan Lyons tells us this morning, "the region they're looking at spans 150 miles from east to west, from Weatherford to Delta County, and then north to Denton."
Says Lyons, "Any time Census data is used when you're talking about DART or The T, you're skewed in looking at the large regional data because it's such a large geographical area not served by any transit agency We usually hear: 'That mean's DART's not doing its job.' Well, we don't go to to Cooper or Frisco."
Lyons says that around 81,000 ride DART daily, and that "75 percent of our trips are work-related -- at least that." Which, of course, is still a fraction of a fraction of those who could be riding the rails or buses.
"The challenge for us, or any transit agency working in this part of the world, is: This has been a jobless recovery," says Lyons, meaning there aren't new bodies going in those trains or buses. "Most trips on DART are work-related. That's true on any transit system and is especially true here, given the way the region's grown and the sprawl. The Census data gives you a good snapshot of the region but doesn't tell you a whole lot about the transit agency because of the way the region's drawn.
"It's the same with that Brookings study about transit access being limited. That's what makes the desire of Mesquite and Frisco and Allen to have access to DART even more important. Twenty years ago it wasn't an issue. Arlington 20 years ago had a population of 200,000, now it's pushing 400,000, and there's no transit there. And that can affect the data."