In Dallas-Fort Worth, More Commuters Are Steering Clear of Public Transit

Categories: Transportation

Thumbnail image for DART_Rendering_Full Unit.jpg
DART
Maybe the street car will bring 'em back.
Across the U.S., commuters are trading in their cars for trains and buses. According to a study released Wednesday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, two-thirds of the country's 100 largest cities saw jumps in the number of miles traveled each year on public transit between 2005 and 2010 as gas prices soared and routes expanded.

In Dallas? Not so much.

According to the study, the Dallas-Fort Worth region experienced a 12.6 percent decline in public transit usage during that period. In 2005, the average North Texan traveled 111 miles on a train or bus. In 2010, that figure was down to 96.9.

The data doesn't reflect ridership on DART's Orange Line or Denton's A-Train or Arlington's inaugural bus route, all of which went online after 2010, so it's possible that the figure has rebounded somewhat. But it's not as if the system was shrinking before that.

See also: Turns Out, Houston Really Does Have Worse Traffic Than Dallas

PIRG's report doesn't offer much by way of explanation. Dallas saw a modest 1.2-percent drop in the proportion of workers commuting by car between 2000 and 2011, which is only partially accounted for by a similarly modest increase in the number of people working from home and an increase in unemployment. Bike commuting remained flat.

Dallas' public transit users can at least take some satisfaction in beating Houston, which saw a 20-percent drop in ridership rates that were already more than four times lower than DFW.

This doesn't necessarily undercut PIRG's underlying argument that the national driving and transit data should convince states and cities to shift investment from roads to other transportation options. Dallas' statistics are probably more reflective of the continuing shift of population toward the far-flung suburbs than any innate dislike of transit, but they certainly give a bit of ammo to those inclined to write off expanded public transit as an expensive boondoggle.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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99 comments
CharlesM
CharlesM

I think it is much more likely that the demographic trend underlying reduced public transit use is the number of people moving into the inner city, and who no longer need to commute, than it is people from Plano moving to McKinney or Sherman, who would find public transit more cost effective than ever before.

bateman.joseph
bateman.joseph

There are more people riding dart free this year probably. I ride the Red Line to Downtown from Spring Valley Station everyday and Downtown to parker rd every other day and I get my ticket checked about 4 times a month. Last year I had to show my ticket twice a day, one day twice on the same train within 30 minutes. Last month I left my pass home by accident but rode without a ticket anyways, no fare enforcement, no fine.

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

"12.6 percent decline in public transit usage during that period. In 2005, the average North Texan traveled 111 miles on a train or bus. In 2010, that figure was down to 96.9."

This is bullshit without context. Americans are also driving less in that vehicle miles driven per person is declining. That started before the economic downturn and still continues. 
Without comparison to that then this doesn't mean much.

When one says the "average north Texas traveled..." does that mean only ones that took some form of transit or all north Texas? The DFW Metropolitan Statistical Area has has significant population increase between 2005 and 2010. Obviously transit did not expand at the same rate. It is hard to consider these statistics meaningful.

Q8dhimmi
Q8dhimmi

Because during the height of rush hour if your commute is 30 minutes or more and you don't live or work in downtown Dallas- you can more often than not still get there faster in your car with less hassle than on DART.

trebuh
trebuh

There was only ever DART security around when I bought the wrong ticket and he fined me $75, otherwise there are obnoxious and unruly children running around

eriksonvasquez
eriksonvasquez

There is never an officer around when I have to sit near some ghetto person that smells like weed and likes to listen to their rap bullshit by playing it from their phone with no earphones.  This aint 1981.  Your ghetto prepaid cell phone aint a boombox and the signs on the walls say not to disturb fellow riders.  Damn it that shit pisses me off!  Therefore, I avoid riding the DART as much as possible.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Given the number of incidents of literally being thrown under the bus..or train, I am not surprised.

DART security is real fond of riding around in cars, but not their mass transit with the rest of us. Tells me sumpin.

observerlibtard
observerlibtard

Celebrate the countless amazing vibrant infinite benefits of Divershitty

d-may
d-may

The actual ridership numbers should be a strong indicator of how well a public transit system is working and serving people. It should not be an indicator of whether or not we should have one. There should be no doubt in anyone's minds that subsidized public transit is a necessity for any community. Even if you personally choose to not use it, you are better off having been able to make the choice to not use it. If you are not even offered the choice, then you are less free than someone that does have the choice. 

Freedom comes from having choices. 

This is why conservatives that are truly ideologically consistent, and a few are, strongly support Public Transportation. Yes, Public Transportation is a form of subsidy, but it isn't like other government hand-outs. it's not like food stamps, or welfare, or social security. The investment in Public Transit doesn't do anyone any good unless you have somewhere to go -namely, to work. Public Transit is the best investment a community can make to help people help themselves. Cars are a very expensive luxury. By supporting public transit, tax payers help subsidize people who are trying to get to work. Conservatives SHOULD love that. Conservatives SHOULD support that. This is exactly the kind of program a conservative government SHOULD commit to. 

Some do. Most just want the government to spend money on things they personally use. 

dallasoriginal
dallasoriginal

It's because dart's rates are triple of what some cities are right now and less dependable and not as safe against robbery's and shootings ! 

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

We subsidize sprawl here. That defeats any investment in mass transit.

DART should have focused on Dallas, with  more rail in the city. That would have brought more development in the city that would use the rail. Instead, for 30-40 years we've been plowing under the corn and cotton and planting houses.


Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

DART is great, if you are going to and from downtown. My wife looked into DART for her new job in Plano (near Coit and Park) from the downtown Garland DART station. She was looking at 2.5+ hours one way. Compare this with 30-45 minutes to drive there. It's not worth it.

There is the problem of late (or no show) buses. My wife waited over an hour (she doesn't drive and I was out of town) for a bus. She even double checked the DART web site for the bus schedule while she was standing there. It was supposed to be there, but never even showed up. She talked to other people on that bus route. and it is a common occurrence.

Then there is the security issues. A friend of mine has no car and depends on DART. Sometimes his work runs late. He will either get a ride or stay at friends place if this happens because of the harassment he faces at the red line stations. He just does not feel it is safe at those stations past 9 PM.

DART has a long way to go before it can be considered as a reliable alternative for many people in its service area.


Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Very unfortunately, DART sees fit to cut its security officers that patrol the light rail cars in order to save money.  I haven't seen a fare enforcer for months for that matter.  Smoking on platforms is common; deranged people, panhandlers and kids playing hooky up to no good rule the rails.  DART better wake the hell up and clean their mess up or they'll continue to bleed riders.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

The DART bus system is a dumpster fire, they're never on schedule and infrequent. The light rail isn't as bad, but still too infrequent and doesn't serve a lot of people. As such, it's a park and ride system which kind of defeats the purpose.

That said, this is a process. It's going to take another 20-30 years for the transit plan to be feasible to most people. It's a matter of patience, Rome wasn't built in a day as they say.

And I standby DART to the AAC is the only way to go.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

yeah, like the time my co-worker forgot her montly pass.  She got a ticket, went to the DART office with her pass and they would not drop the fine, even thought she proved she had a pas.  Fucking crooks

observerlibtard
observerlibtard

Public transpo makes it easy for criminal deadbeats to get around town. In that way it is totally "progressive".

eriksonvasquez
eriksonvasquez

@dallasoriginal So true.  I just moved back from San Francisco where public transit is not just necessary...its cool.  Everyone walks and everyone takes street cars, the BART or the Muni. The price is much cheaper in SF and they have one of the best transit systems I have ever used.  DART is a joke.  I will be using it to go to the Christmas parade this Saturday as a novelty, not out of necessity.  Cant wait to see how DART is going to handle this mess of weather and lots of people using their train to head downtown.  Im going to venture to say not well.

d-may
d-may

@dallasoriginal You are less likely to be robbed on a DART bus then you are to be robbed walking around in North Park Mall. Crimes on DART are actually very, very rare, and very very published for anyone to do 30 seconds of fact checking. 

DART hasn't had a single shooting this year. 

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

@Montemalone DART stands for Dallas AREA Rapid Transit. They would have nowhere near the ridership, nor money, if not for suburbs who are part of it. Every city that is a member of DART pays a 1% sales tax to help support DART. Without the suburbs, DART also would not get anywhere near as much federal money.

d-may
d-may

@Tim.Covington What bus was your wife waiting for? I can't think of any bus that has over an hour delay between buses. Even if she missed her bus (or as you said, it didn't come, which is really unlikely, though it might have come early) there would have been another come through within the hour. 

Also, I ride the red line quite often. Often late. I've been asked for money by homeless people all the time, but have never been harassed. This is just bull. 

Look, if you like your car and you like driving. Fine. Whatever. That's your choice. But there is no reason to make up ridiculous fake excuses for why you choose to drive and spread wrongful myths about DART. 

observerlibtard
observerlibtard

"because of the harassment he faces at the red line stations"

CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE YOU EVIL RACIST NAZI

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@P1Gunter Actually, I'm satisfied with the frequency and its service accessibility.  It's the other issues I'm pissed off about, like the escalators being out of service at CItyPlace.  They want people to climb ten stories of stairs to get to street level?  Crazy.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin I watch the game some people play to avoid a fare enforcer.  They'll get on last to see if any officers get on, then stand by the doorway and look into the next car, ready to get off at the next stop if they see one.  It's actually quite entertaining.

d-may
d-may

@observerlibtard This is my favorite argument against Public Transit. "It will  raise crime."

Senario in suburbanite's heads:

Black man, leaves home in south Dallas, waits at bus stop for the #458, takes it to DART Rail station. Rides Blue Line to Cedars Station, transfers to Red Line, rides to Park Lane Station, waits for the #345, rides to your neighborhood, walks from bus stop to your house. RAPES YOUR WOMEN and STEAL YOUR TV! Then walks back to bus stop (TV under his arms), catches bus back to Park Lane station, rides back to South Dallas, and pawns your tv!

Criminal deadbeats are real go getters. 

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

@d-may I can't remember the route number. But, it was over off of Miller and Plano Road about 11 months ago. As I mentioned, when she talked to others, this is apparently something common to this particular route on the weekends. And, I had a similar experience (admittedly 15 years ago), with a DART bus. Though, instead of not showing up it drove right past a bus stop (again an hour late) with 20 people waiting in the rain. Luckily, another bus did come by 15 minutes later.

And, I am not making anything up. Not everybody's experience is the same as yours.

cwi4691
cwi4691

@observerlibtard What is the point of that? If the guy or his wife don't feel safe, they don't feel safe. People like you are the problem, not the solution. 

cwi4691
cwi4691

@observerlibtard I guess the truth hurts, dude. If being truthful is racist, I guess I am one too, and proud of it. So there.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I thought cats were fleet footed, 10 stories of stairs should be nothing for our four footed feline friend

cwi4691
cwi4691

@d-may @donoley @observerlibtard I think the point being made was that the difference is you can decide not to go into a high-risk environment, like deciding not  to wait for a DART train at Fair Park when the Fair is not in full swing. But, riding DART you have no choice. You are trapped and the high-risk environment is surrounding you. I am glad DART is there for those who need it, especially with Central backing up like it is these days during rush hour. Fortunately, I no longer do. Besides, I prefer being in control of my schedule and my route home. 

donoley
donoley

And that report says there were 82 robberies total in 2012. Uh........

donoley
donoley

When you assume things about multiple people you don't know on an internet in a reply, it seems like you started out with an assumption and then became offended when anyone disagrees. I run a railroad. I've been asked about starting a passenger train from the capitol of my state to a large employer. I don't really care either way about mass transit, I just think DART cops should get their fat asses off the highways and onto the train. What's so fucking terrible about that? Women will feel more empowered, the bullying of  trans gendered and bi curious commuters by roving gangs will end. No one need every lose their iphone to robbers while their updating their Huffington Post entry "Why I'm glad my health insurance was cancelled."

d-may
d-may

@donoley @observerlibtard I make the case comparing DART's crime stats to other organizations that serve large numbers of people because the argument was that people don't ride DART because they fear the crime but then don't apply the same logic to other aspects of their lives. 

In the end, the "Crime" argument is just a false justification for doing what you were going to do anyway. It's not backed by any real facts. 

d-may
d-may

@donoley @observerlibtard 
Like a good conservative, you are going to believe whatever "feels" right in your gut regardless of facts, so I'm not going to try to convince you. 

But yes. That is what the raw data says. 

donoley
donoley

@d-may @donoley @observerlibtard I just posted a link from this site to show there is a problem. Why would you report a robbery to DART cops, anyway? You think they'll have their detectives hunt down the kid that did it? They're too busy driving around acting like big shots to do their real job. The Chicago and New York transit systems always have problems with thugs, it doesn't really make a much sense to argue that you're more likely to be robbed somewhere else instead of public transit. Why does that matter, exactly? You are supposed to have an expectation of safety after paying the fare and being enclosed in a confined place the government operates, not so much in a bad part of town or a parking lot.

d-may
d-may

@donoley @observerlibtard 
Never let facts get in the way of a good dogma. 
https://www.dart.org/about/dartpolice/stats/DARTPoliceAllStats2013.pdf

Those are all of the crimes for all of DART's network for the entire year to date. 616 total crimes reported THIS YEAR. This is for a system that services 85,000 people per day -including people in the scary neighborhoods of Dallas. You are literally more likely to be robbed in a parking garage at North Park or Stonebriar than on DART. 

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