Call Me When DART's Orange Line Gets to the Airport

Categories: Transportation

DARTOrangeLine.jpg
Get excited, y'all. Now you can take the train to Las Colinas!
DART already had the longest light rail system in the country before the $1.3 billion Orange Line added another three stations and several miles with its debut this morning. Sure, DART's soon-to-be 90 miles of track are dwarfed by the subway system in New York City, the L in Chicago, and Washington D.C.'s Metro, but still. It's a superlative, something to be proud of.

The expansion has been greeted with cheers from various corners. DART is, of course, gleeful, as are Irving officials, who have coveted a light rail line since the 1990s. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson proclaimed that DART has "surpassed all expectations" and "done it right," and the Morning News, whose editorial pages has lately been filled with critiques of DART's light rail, was full of praise.

But it didn't take long this morning for someone to start pooping on the parade.

And since no one in Dallas has much reason to go to Irving with the Cowboys gone, and since Irvingites are just as tied to their cars as people in Plano, it won't be much longer before the Morning News launches another round of editorials wondering why ridership isn't higher even though we know the answer already.

The Orange Line does bring one indisputably positive development to Dallas' transit scene: a rail link to DFW Airport. Driving there sucks, parking there sucks even worse, and taking a taxi is too expensive, so budget-minded travelers are left begging reluctant friends or family members to drop them (OK, me) off at the airport. Paying a couple of bucks and hopping on a train will be a relative breeze. Makes you wonder why it took DART more than a decade to get around to.

Emphasis on will be. The DFW station won't open until 2014. Let's hold off on the celebration until then.

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51 comments
1morereason2carry
1morereason2carry

I will glady fork over $40-50 for a cab to the airport over being assaulted by stench and panhandling preachers on the train. At least the cab driver works for his living.

EdD.
EdD.

That's a great picture of the DART train and the Irving Convention Center. Do you know what you don't see? The new Irving Convention Center DART station, because they didn't build it at the convention center! And they haven't installed sidewalks so you could walk from one to the other, even if you wanted to.

d-may
d-may

I do agree that the primary advantage of the Orange line is the DFW connection. It's remarkable to think that DART almost killed it. I do wish we could finish the extension of the Blue Line and, more importantly, the D-2 line as well. The bottle neck downtown is atrocious. But, if we could only pick one of those three, then the DFW line is more important. 

TexOHara
TexOHara

Not knocking the light rail, but can someone explain to me why we can't build a subway system in Dallas?  Cost?

coachbranden
coachbranden

I hate to poop on evryone's parade again, but across the country, rail stations and lines are some of the least ridden ones. Out of roughly 8 million trips daily, New York sees only 100,000 use the airport, (1.25%). Of the 700,000 who use the L in Chicago, roughly 10,000 use the OHare Station (1.4%). Boston has a little over 10,000 use its airport stations, out of a total rail ridership of over 750,000 (1.3%). Assuming DART performs better than everyone else in the country and that station generates 5% of the systems total riders, it will add less than 4,000 riders. What transit systems need to focus on is taking people from where they are (residences, work) to where they want to go (work, attractions) and back conveniently.

claytonauger
claytonauger

The Love Field "solution" still sucks. It's a wonder DART hasn't done worse considering that it can't offer the fundamental service of getting you to the airport and back.

icowrich
icowrich

The Belt Line station, which will be on the edge of DFW airport property, opens in December.  It's a very short shuttle ride (5 minutes?) from there to a terminal, and it will be free if you bought a day pass.  Unless your flight is terminal A, you'll have to take a shuttle from the airport station in 2014, anyway.  I don't see a big difference. 

_mm_
_mm_

I think the word you're looking for is "shutter".

jmckee3
jmckee3

Also I didn't see any donuts this morning at the Las Colinas Urban station, I'm a little disappointed that I missed out. Maybe there will be something equally awesome when I'm headed home.

jmckee3
jmckee3

As someone that lives in Uptown and works in Las Colinas it is absolutely awesome for me. I already hate driving and between music and a book the time on the train absolutely flew by.

 

I don't know that I will take it every day but this morning was awesome and I'm really looking forward to not dealing with traffic on 35 on my way home this afternoon.

MikeDunlap
MikeDunlap

They should just shudder the stations and run an express line to the airport. 

jared.heath
jared.heath

 @1morereason2carry Hey 1% guy (you have to be if you are willing to pay $100 round trip to the airport in a cab)

 

Get ready for your new tax bill.

d-may
d-may

 @1morereason2carry I have to agree with Myrna. I think you are either imagining things or are only repeating non-sense you have heard from other people on blogs that have never taken the train either.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

 @1morereason2carry I ride the light rail system frequently and have not encountered any stench or panhandlers.  Ever.  Maybe the stench was coming from you.

d-may
d-may

 @coachbranden I understand what you are saying, but think you may miss the the larger point. The need for the DFW connection is not so much to boost ridership, but to tie together a multi-modal transportation network. I personally only fly 2-3 times per year, I'm not going to be boosting any ridership numbers on the Orange line, but this line opens up new transportation options for me. And that is what public transportation is about, giving people options.  My wife and I have 1 car. That means that when my wife has to fly somewhere for work, either I have to do without the car for a day or so, or I have to take off work to drop her off. But this way she can easily and efficiently take public transit directly to the terminal. That's one less reason why we would need another car. That means that we have far more money to spend on other things besides gas and insurance. That means we get to be more productive. 

 

The point of public transit should not be to replace the car entirely. It should be to reduce our dependence on the car. Cars are very expensive liabilities, and the less dependent on them we are the better. DFW has been a major hole in our transportation network. The Orange line fills that hole. It's probably the single most important station in the whole network even if it doesn't necessarily get the most passengers. 

big_oj
big_oj

 @TexOHara The real reason is that if we had a subway system is:

A- It cost too much.

B- The trains would not go as far as there going right now, pretty much they would be in the city center.

 

d-may
d-may

 @TexOHara Because we paid a hell of a lot of money on the high tech trains and want people to see them.

jmckee3
jmckee3

 @TexOHara Because there really is no need except for downtown. Someday in the long distant future we might get a subway downtown or at very bury the light rail downtown.

icowrich
icowrich

 @coachbranden If NYC offered direct rail from Kennedy to La Guardia, it'd get used, for sure. 

big_oj
big_oj

 @claytonauger

A. Buses run to the station.

B. The City would of had to pick-up the cost that would be very costly. If someone is to blame, it's the city council.

 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

you realize you can take the TRE to the centerpoint and take a short shuttle ride to the airport and have been able to for years

d-may
d-may

 @icowrich You won't HAVE to take a shuttle. You will be able to check in at Terminal A, go through security there, and the take the TRAAM or whatever they call it now around to your terminal. Though, if flying internationally I imagine you will have to go through security a second time.

lowercase
lowercase

 @jmckee3 You and me both! I have to truck it a few miles up Las Colinas Boulevard, but it's leaps and bounds over taking the Green Line to Royal and braving that traffic on a bicycle. No traffic? Someone give me an AMEN!

 

The new line could stand to run a little earlier, but I'm already in love.

1morereason2carry
1morereason2carry

 @jared.heath Anyone who values their time(IE has a job) would prefer not spending half their day just getting to the airport too.

coachbranden
coachbranden

@dallas.l.may I get what you are saying, and within the first paragraph, I agree. But, I don't understand how you can say it would be the most important station in the network if you use it 2-3 times a year. For me, St. Paul Station is the most important, because it is closest to where I live and the one I use the most. For DART, it would be the Went End Station, since it carries 1/7th of the entire system's passengers. For people in the northern 'burbs who use it to go to work, it would be the terminus station and their departure station. If DFW Airport carries a similar percentage of the entire network's passengers like other system's airport stations, it will be around 2,000 daily trips. That would put it in the top 15 of DART stations. I just don't see how an unused or underutilized station can be the most important. If it fills a gap, then it will be well-used. I am curious, do you use it everyday? If not, that may explain it. For people who live and work in the 'burbs, their most important station may be Victory, since that is the only time they use it. For someone who may use the system only 2-3 times a year, but it is to DFW Airport, then I can see that claim as valid for them.

1morereason2carry
1morereason2carry

 @dallas.l.may You must be a shitty husband if you would make your wife take DART to the airport rather than giving her a ride.

coachbranden
coachbranden

@icowrich It does, but like most transit systems, it requires a transfer. That still doesn't negae that their percentage of airport station riders to total system riders is the same s other transit agencies, direct connection or not.

icowrich
icowrich

 @ScottsMerkin Yes, but in my case, that's impractical.  I'd have to take DART to the LRE (wait for the connection) and then to the shuttle (wait for the connection), and that shuttle is not right up against airport property, like Belt Line will be.On other hand, it is also free with the day pass (I think), so is a fine option for some.  If I lived south of Dallas, I'd consider using it.

icowrich
icowrich

 @dallas.l.may Right...and that will be slightly more convenient, but if the Belt Line shuttle will take me directly to my terminal of choice, that'd be pretty darned close.

1morereason2carry
1morereason2carry

 @ResistanceIsOhm Who gives a shit about Arlington? 

 

Go cry about how no one wants to suffer you precious train system and do us all a favor by parking your unemployed Obama voting ass on the DART tracks.

ResistanceIsOhm
ResistanceIsOhm

 @1morereason2carry wow. troll often? you think someone with a giant cat as their avatar is in a dope nod?

 

the dart is a broken system, but compared to other cities' train systems, it's pretty clean, and pretty easy. if you're willing to fork over $50 for a cab, then you are what's wrong with Dallas. That's why cities like Arlington have no transit system in place. Arlington is the largest city in America with no public transit. Remember Cliff Lee, the pitcher who helped up get to the world series the first time? One of the reasons he left the Rangers is b/c he and his family thought it was negligent that there is no mass transit to the stadium area. Stop being stupid please.

coachbranden
coachbranden

@dallas.l.may I get what you are saying about moving to the next station, and I don't neccesarily disagree, but successful transit systems are well ridden precisely because there is overlap. Manhattan, downtown Boston, downtown Philly, San Francisco's Financial District all have it. If that magical quarter-mile circle is drawn around their stations, there are no gaps. If St. Paul Station were removed, fewer people would ride. If the second-to-next were removed, ridership would fall even more. I still fail to understand the last part. If the station contributes only 2% of daily riders, it isn't adding much to the system. Therefore, if visitors aren't using the station on any large scale, then it makes no difference otherwise. More visitors are going to use the system on their stay in Dallas, not on the way to Dallas. And few of the overall visitors to the area actually fly. Most are drving, a smaller percentage take an intercity bus, and a smaller percentage take Amtrak. If visitors aren't using the station, why is it important? I don't think downtown Dallas is awesome because Nieman Marcus has a store I don't shop at a block away. Why would the sirport station be different?

d-may
d-may

Well, I can't claim that I use DART everyday, though probably average at least twice per week. I jump on at Mockingbird and connect to the Greenline in downtown. My wife takes the bus everyday, so I think we've got our ridership credentials. 

 

Anyway, other stations are very important, no doubt, but if DART decided, for whatever reason, to shut down Parker or St. Paul stations, it wouldn't really effect many people. You get on at St. Paul, but if it disappeared I imagine you would just walk an extra block over to Perl. For me, if Mockingbird was closed down, then I would just ride the bus with my wife on into Downtown and transfer to the green line from there. (I often ride with her in the morning anyway.) St. Paul is important to you, but it's not vital to the network. DFW is different. The DFW station will serve a very important roll in our City. It will make it very easy for visitors to come in and go out without the hassle of having to rent a car or take a cab. They can still choose to do that, if they wish, but it won't be thrust upon them. If Dallas ever wishes to be known as any but a woefully car dependent city, the DFW connection is vital. A city's airport is the city's first impression on a visitor. If the airport is a frustrating experience for a visitor, that can be a bad first impression that we don't get to make again. So, if the DFW connection doesn't get built there is nothing to replace it. Now, when I say that the DFW station is the most important I don't mean that the whole system is a failure without it, but, as I said, that it fills a very important hole that makes the entire system much better. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @icowrich if you live off the red ir blue you have to go downtown before hitting the orange line any how

1morereason2carry
1morereason2carry

 @ScottsMerkin Like I previously said-- I will gladly take a cab instead.

 

I took the shuttle to the parking lot, wait for the bus to the train station, wait for the train to downtown only to find there isn't even a fucking cab stand at the terminal.. one time.

 

Never fucking again. If I can afford a plane ticket I can afford to take a cab too.

icowrich
icowrich

 @dallas.l.may Oh, in 2014, I definitely plan on using the Terminal A station.  I just mean that I'm still quite excited to use the Belt Line shuttle in the mean time.  It's a far better option than anything we have now.

 

d-may
d-may

 @icowrich That would be up to you. As I said, you won't HAVE to take a shuttle, but it might turn out to be the faster route anyway.

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