Dallas: DART Orange Line Rolls Into DFW Airport

August 18th is a truly historic day for Texas public transit advocates, as Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) begins light rail service to Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport. After dreaming of such a connection for decades, Dallas has made it happen. Here’s more from the official DART press release

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport are celebrating the opening of the last Orange Line segment to the new DFW Airport Station. The Aug. 18 opening means the country’s longest light rail system links to the world’s third-busiest airport.

“Connecting DFW Airport by light rail makes Dallas a more competitive, more attractive destination for business and travelers,” said Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan. “It’s part of a sustained partnership over decades that’s bringing billions in investment, more jobs, and a better quality of life to North Texas.

[…]

The 5-mile segment links newly renovated Terminal A and Belt Line Station, with continuing service to major regional destinations including Irving-Las Colinas, Dallas Market Center and downtown Dallas. With this opening, DFW Airport becomes the third-largest American airport with a direct rail connection to the city center.

The Orange Line extension was completed four months ahead of schedule and under budget.

Passengers can now travel from DFW airport to Downtown Dallas in approximately 50 minutes, for a cost of $2.50 per trip.  Compared to cab fare between the two destinations, that’s a savings of over $40 dollars!!

For all of the negative press Texas Governor Rick Perry has gotten as of late, he’s still the Governor, and rightly deserves to be applauded for his comments in support DART’s monumental achievement.  On this subject I agree wholeheartedly with Governor Perry… it’s a great day for the state of Texas.

The DART rail system isn’t done expanding either.  More exciting projects are forthcoming, including an extension of the Blue Line set to open next year.  Dallas Area Rapid Transit now operates the largest light rail system in the United States with over 90 miles of track and 62 stations.  As Therese McMillan, Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration writes, North Texas didn’t get to this milestone alone either.  Here’s an excerpt from her opinion column in the Dallas Morning News

There’s no question that communities across America can learn a great deal from North Texas about building a dynamic public transportation network. Among the most important of those lessons is that it takes vision, commitment and partnership at all levels of government.

In 1984, local voters approved a 1-cent sales tax to launch DART. Back then, it must have been difficult to foresee how that initial support would lead to the substantial economic development over the last two decades and widespread access to jobs and opportunities that followed.

Those things exist today not only because of North Texans’ vision, but also because you sought the partnership of a federal government that was willing and able to provide its support. The Federal Transit Administration was at the table in 1993, helping fund the south Oak Cliff light-rail project. And we’ve been at the table, as your partner, ever since.

We’d like to see that partnership continue. That’s why we’ll continue calling on Congress to pass a multiyear transportation bill to fund the transportation infrastructure that the economies of Texas and the nation depend on.

Texas politicians, especially Rick Perry, Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott, have forged their political careers bashing the federal government. But as North Texas is proving today, we need all levels of government at the table to truly bring progress to the Lone Star State.  As the region celebrates today, let’s hope they don’t forget how they got there, and that other Texas metros follow DART’s lead.

(photo credit:  DART

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