According to the Latest Customer Survey, DART Riders Are Satisfied ... Well, For the Most Part

Categories: Transportation
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Below is the 2011 Customer Satisfaction Survey dispatched this morning by Dallas Area Rapid Transit in advance of today's board meeting. Long story short: Despite some issues with the transit agency -- longtime riders think the buses are getting shabby, passengers don't feel there's adequate notice of service disruptions, there's a small drop in the number of riders who feel safe riding DART -- 91 percent of the 3,700 surveyed would still recommend DART to others. That's the same number as last year's survey.

DART plays up the good news in its accompanying press release: "Nine out of ten Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) customers say they'll recommend others get on board." But at the same time it acknowledges what Schutze pointed out one month ago: There remains an issue with passengers' "sense of security." Says the release:
In addition to modifying deployment plans to increase police presence, the agency is continuing to install closed-circuit cameras at its stations and is scheduled to complete the project in mid-2012. DART Police are also increasing their coordination with service-area city police departments as well as federal law enforcement agencies. One particular effort with Dallas Police is aimed at reducing crime involving juveniles.
Matter of fact, at today's meeting of DART's Security, Safety, Public Relations & Operations Committee, there will be a briefing titled "FY 2011 Police Activity Update and Future Plan of Operations," during which some of that will be discussed. I'll see if I can get my hands on those briefing docs. Till then there's always the survey, which also contains a profile of the DART rider who tended to respond to the survey. Says the doc: More than half of those quizzed are Dallas riders, and only 54 percent have access to a car. Customer Satisfaction Survey Results
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35 comments
BadGuyZero
BadGuyZero

I use DART on a fairly regular basis. It is hands down the worst transit system I've ever encountered. Bus schedules mean nothing. The drivers run whenever they want. I understand that there are going to be situations where a bus is a few minutes late but running ahead of schedule is inexcusable. Ditto for drivers driving with one hand so that they can use the other to talk on their cellphone (I see this regularly). 

DART seems to half-ass everything and then use one of their patented make your eyes roll excuses to justify their poor service. They build a rail line to Deep Ellum and Fair Park but don't offer service after midnight. What's the incentive to take the train? So you can enjoy a $30 caab ride home at 2:30am???I could rant and rave for several hours about DART's failings. It's a level of ineptitude that should be celebrated with a weekly column and daily blog updates. Believe me...there's nothing rapid about DART.

Myrna Minkoff-Katz
Myrna Minkoff-Katz

The trains are okay. The busses are horrible: old fleet, surly drivers, never on time, sometimes never show up.

cockadoodledoooo
cockadoodledoooo

How come my day pass I purchase, always states on the back, that it expires at 3am the next day??? I've yet to ever see a bus or train hauling passengers in Dallas at that time. Either I want to have access, until my expiration time on my ticket states, or I want a bit of the overall ticket price lessened. I believe this is false advertisement and i'm not gonna stand for it! 

Rider Ship
Rider Ship

I saw some guy who was dissatisfied with DART because his ticket would not dispense. He subsequently obtained his ticket after 'nudging' his heel against the machine in a strategically planted location.

The ticket dispenser obviously needed a reboot.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Its why DART is considered a joke, they purchased their ticket vending system from a company that I believe has since gone out of business. DART needs to go to a Oystercard-type system of RFID-embedded chip cards that hold credits and can be easily recharged at locations at station kiosk, merch locations and online. Trust me the cost savings alone would put DART into the black.  In addition, they need to add airgates to their station platforms around town to prevent idiots from boarding the train. I cant tell you how many times I've seen morons board the train then get ticketed by Officer Lashawnda Goldtooth because they've tried to screw the system.

Halldecker
Halldecker

I've had that happen at Mockingbird.  Susan B's won't work,  credit cards don't work, dollar bills won't work,   I owe Dart $1.75 for a free ride.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Heres the real challenge w/ this region: They talk as if they're a big city, but dont act like it. If you go to any other major city in the the US (NY,LA, Chicago, Boston) all of their transit systems run 24/7, be it by bus, commuter train or light rail. This region cant even get the TRE to run on a sunday, which is a total insult.

It goes the same with bad weather, DART apperantly either doesnt know how to or didnt want to run trains over the past two winters on snow days, which caused some serious challenges for us whom are not of school age and dont receive "skip days".

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

It's the bad weather part that really makes you scratch your head. It's amazing how the Bostons, New Yorks, and Chicagos of the world manage to keep ground-level or above-ground light rail going when it's well below freezing with precipitation, but DART says "Whoa, ice? No way. Can't be done."

DART rail rider
DART rail rider

Would some of this difference be due to the fact that those cities are not actually operating light rail but a different type of train?  I know the subways in NY are not light rail and neither was the train I rode on in Chicago from the airport last year.  They did not have to worry about ice on overhead power lines.

Point taken, though, DART should be able to figure out a way to limit disruptions in the event of icy weather.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

and In Chicago and LA (since Ive been there) their mass transit serves the suburbs, and people dont bitch about it.  What a concept

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Not to mention in LA on xmas eve/day, Metro was giving free bus and train rides, which is something DART would never do, as they're too cheap

Brandon Burns
Brandon Burns

The dart has done well by running more trains during rush hour. +

The dart has not done well by not letting people use it when they go out. Friday and saturday night? Run until 3. Three hours, fixed cost remains the same and once people start realizing whats going on it would be CROWDED at 2-2:30... -

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

even 2:30 last train out of downtown.

dallasmay
dallasmay

The "Sense of Security" is nothing more than a sense. DART's police publish their crime numbers every year, and 2011 is no exception in that crime on DART is very, very low. The Suburban fantasy of being bothered on public transit is a myth. Virtually no one is ever really threatened on a DART bus or train. 

The simple fact is, you are far FAR more likely to be injured or killed while driving your own car than you are to be injured in any way while riding DART. If you are choosing to drive because you don't feel safe riding DART, then you are incapable of proper risk assessment. (In which case, don't feel too bad, you are in good company. 49.9% of people have a below average intelligence.)

Fletch
Fletch

The perception of "being bothered on public transit" is not a myth, let alone the suburban fantasy you claim it to be.  Either you're the eternal optimist viewing the world through the rosiest of glasses or you're so hopelessly naive that you can't possibly be bothered to pull your head out and take a look around.  I don't think that DART is inherently unsafe, but there have been times when I've witnessed things going on that were not what I would call ideal.  It's mass transit in an urban area with millions of people, so it's going to have its share of trouble.  However, problems seem to be minimal during the morning and evening rush.

I take DART to work some days and some days I drive.  I usually revert back to driving for a while after a day or two where taking transit made absolutely no sense time-wise.  If I've had to stand at the bus stop in the pouring rain for almost an hour waiting on a bus that was way behind schedule just to get to the train (which has happened), then yeah...the car starts to look pretty appealing.  On the flip side, getting stuck in the mother of all traffic snarls starts to make the train look really good.

dallasmay
dallasmay

But look at the example you just gave. Your example says that you would choose to drive your car for comfort and timeliness. I wouldn't argue with that. Your personal car is likely typically faster and more comfortable than transit. Now, if you said that would would choose to drive your car in the pouring rain because it is SAFER than transit, you are mistaken. 

Fletch
Fletch

Okay...I can see your point.  Honestly, rainy days are typically the ones when I will ride DART.  I don't trust so many of the other drivers on 75 and traffic in inclement weather is a whole new level of awful.  But so is waiting on a late-running bus in the rain (thankfully I don't use that particular route anymore plus the ongoing drought assures that our rainy days are scarce).

However, I still wouldn't consider DART a 100% safe alternative to driving.  Sometimes bad things happen and they do happen to people on trains and buses on occasion.  But there are ways to help minimize that risk.

Rangers100
Rangers100

DART is great.  

The people that complain about it aren't the regular riders.  It's the suburbanites who use it once or twice each year. 

Anon
Anon

R100, we get it. You've made your point on other boards. Got it loud and clear. You don't like suburbs.  DART isn't the Dallas Rapid Transit system. It is the Dallas AREA Rapid Transit system. That means the suburbs, without which DART would not exist.  The way DART keeps badly missing its ridership projections really tells the story. It is not a case of "Build it and they will come." DART keeps missing the mark because they don't go where the population wants to go when they want to go there.  Safety? I wonder if anyone has pulled the reports and studied the safety near DART facilities? I suspect that would paint a very different picture.  R100, you don't like suburbs and you don't like those who live in them. That's fine. But to imply (you are very careful to rarely or never actually state it outright - are you a politician?) that the folks who have paid a lot of money to create the DART system essentially have no stake or right to take issue with the agency they pay for with their tax dollars, well that's a bit much even for you.  Remember, it is Dallas AREA Rapid Transit. Residents of the AREA voted to create it, dedicated one percent on their sales tax rate to support it, and have collectively paid billions to build and operate it. I think they all, no matter where they live, have the right to comment on DART as they see fit. No matter if they ride it or not.  

Fletch
Fletch

That's a bunch of crap.  Yes, I'm a suburbanite but I pay just like everyone else does, so I'm allowed to complain if I see fit.  Also, I take DART probably at least 100 days a year and there are good days and bad days.  I've certainly had complaints before and I'm not foolish enough to think that I won't take exception to DART at some point in the future as well.  Stop talking out of your backside.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Well the suburbanites pay for it just as you do so they can complain if they like.  I have an issue with the whole TRE Dart setup.  Id love to utilize them to go out in Dallas on the weekends.  the problem is the last TRE train leaves dallas at 10 pm,  who the hell that goes out in dallas wants to leave by 10?  My other problem is getting to work by train.  If  I took the TRE from DFW to Dallas and switched to Dart to get to Pearl station, its an hour minimum.  I can drive in and be in my office at 25-30 minutes by car.  I just wouldnt feel like wasting 2-2.5 hrs of my day on a train. 

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

You should push for a late night train sponsored by a beer company. the "Miller Light late night safety train". Miller subsidizes the train for TRE/Dart, gets big PR 

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

I think like anything else it would take time, but if getting some people off the road from Dallas to Arlington, Plano, Carrollton at 2am would be a good thing I think. and people may have time to sober up before they jump in their cars at DART stations, or cab rides from suburban DART stations to their homes are not prohibitively expensive as Downtown to the burbs runs

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Good Idea,  I like the Stars and Mavs and event train from the AAC,  I just wonder what kind of ridership say a 1 or 130 am train on a friday and saturday night would have heading west from Dallas.  As Ive gotten a little older I just refuse to go out in Dallas and then try to traverse 30 home after drinking.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I thought your cozy bubble was so compact you could walk or ride a bike everywhere, but you're a DART expert too?

Halldecker
Halldecker

Maybe it's that I got lucky with locations.  Working on a project downtown,  I rode DART for the first time.  Mockingbird Station is 5 minutes from the house.  (Don't park under the trees,  birds been busy eating all night,  waiting for you to show up).   DART is 8 minutes to the front door of the Republic Bank building on St. Paul.  For $4 a day. 

I'm one of those who would never do public transit.   I've now done it,   I'd urge others to see if it'll work for them.

Fletch
Fletch

Yep...the monthly pass is a good deal if you'll be taking the train on a daily basis.  DART is a good option for many depending on what their circumstances are.  If you can get fairly close to your destination by using the train, then it'll be great.  If your commute involves the train and a bus trip or two, that's where it can get really aggravating.

Rangers100
Rangers100

Even better deal: the monthly pass for $65.  

elbueno
elbueno

DART's problem is not safety. Its common sense...

Example...my family and I were downtown at the House of Blues for NYE Polyphonic Spree show. DART website said trains were running until 2 am. 2 am. thats it. no schedule, no further details. Just 2 am. We took the train assuming we could get home as long as we checked when the last train was heading our direction. Well...

ALL TRAINS after 1 am were heading only as far as Fair Park or the Cedars! Thats it! No north bound. No southbound beyond the Cedars! It was absurd. My in-laws who live in Manhattan and Paris were bewildered by the situation. In Paris on New Years Eve, trains run all night long and they're free!

C'mon DART! If you want to function as a mass transit system, start acting like one!

It's really not a bad system, its actually fairly good if you've ever really used it. The problem lies in how they brand themselves and their current strategy. They don't promote the connections properly. Love Field?? C'mon! All they need to do is install a ticket kioskat the airport, promote the hell out of it with advertising and signage, and then run a shuttle every 20 minutes back and forth from Inwood/Love Field station. 

NotTheSuburbs
NotTheSuburbs

I ride Dart daily for work but wouldn't trust it for any special event.  I had a feeling they would screw up the NYE plan and actually would be surprised if they hadn't.  That's a good one though, stating that the trains run until 2am but only running partial lines.

What bothers me most is that they promote these special events then don't deliver.  It would be better if they would just admit their shortcomings and not bother with special events.

US175guy
US175guy

The NYE mess, only promoted the light rail--no mention of the buses.  So I checked, sure enough, no special/extended bus service that Saturday night.  I actually thought about going to the NYE thing downtown also, but it's good that I checked the bus schedules first.  The last bus leaving the West End transit center (several blocks south of the NYE site at Vicky Park) was scheduled to leave at 12:15a.  I would have had to call a cab to get home.  I was better off staying home that night.  Glad I didn't fall for the train story (thanx elbueno).

My biggest beef with DART is bad/irregular connections between buses as well as bus/train connections.  Some drivers could use a good refresh on driving skills and people skills dealing with riders, also.  I've been left more than once at stops at night on the way to work, while standing next to the bus stop sign--I've never understood that (and yes, I was clearly visible).

I'm always amused at DART when they come up with reasons for lower ridership.  They come up with almost anything--except, maybe, a fare increase??  Every time there's been a fare increase, the ridership number has gone down.

And no, I'm not a one-time or some-time rider.  I am nowhere near a car, and have bought more monthly passes than I can count.  I've sunk a lot of quarters in those buses over the years.

dallasmay
dallasmay

I had a similar problem once when I went to a Ben Folds concert. I know what you are saying. However, the main goal of DART is not to get people to events, it's to get people to work. It's very well designed to do what it was designed to do -get people to work. 

As Rangers100 said, this is Dallas after all. Business is #1. Always has been. 

Rangers100
Rangers100

It's Dallas.  Not Paris or NYC.

I take DART trains and buses everywhere and would thus love to have them run 24/7, but I also realize how wasteful that would be given the total lack of demand.  

The problem isn't DART.  The problem is the culture of the area. 

Colin
Colin

Ah, but elbueno didn't ask for the trains/busses to run 24/7. elbueno asked that DART provide full and accurate information about their service, which they did not.

I had a similar problem a year ago after a concert at Smirnoff. Management locked down Fair Park right after the show so I had to walk on unsafe and sketchy road around the park proper to the transit stop, still arrived 10 minutes before last scheduled bus that never showed up after half an hour. Another bus route did show. I asked if they knew what happened to my bus or could call dispatch. Bus driver said no she didn't know and wouldn't call, and drove off. I had to take a cab. Was pathetic.

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