People in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metro Area have depended on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system (DART) for almost four decades. In fact, DART is celebrating 25 years of light rail service this year; however, the bus system became operational with routes to the suburbs in 1987. The light rail system keeps expanding, and the much-anticipated Silver Line is due to be functional in 2024.
The DART 2030 Transit System Plan (TSP) identified the 26-mile-long Cotton Belt Corridor, which extends between DFW Airport and Shiloh Road in Plano, traversing seven cities: Grapevine, Coppell, Dallas, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson, and Plano, to be the canvas for their transit pallette.
DART External Relations Representative Gordon Shattles, explained what's been going on lately in the DART network.
“We are continuing our platform extension project, which consists of a total of 28 DART stations throughout the network. We've been able to extend the platforms to allow for three-car trains. So, when DART first began the starter system, all we needed were two cars. As the area has grown and as our ridership had grown pre-pandemic, we realized the need to expand to three cars from two, increasing ridership by 50%. The pandemic slowed us down, but we still have plans to keep going and have all of [the tracks] replaced by 2024, thanks to a Federal Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA)," Shattles said.
At the City Line/Bush Station, located at 1300 East President George Bush Highway in Richardson, the DART Silver Line is scheduled to go into operation in the fourth quarter of 2024. Workers have already begun laying the foundations for what will eventually be the double-track line coming through this station. Currently, the area is already served by City Line/Bush Red and Orange Line Light Rail.
"The vehicles for the Silver Line will be diesel-electric vehicles, doing away with the need for the overhead [power] lines,” said Shattles.
In anticipation of the Silver Line, many restaurants and stores have opened in the immediate area. "When the project was announced, it wasn't long before we saw several businesses that will cater to riders pop up along this little corridor," Shattles said.
For passengers’ information, if they’re not sure where to go, DART kiosks have been placed around the network.
“We have scheduled 300 of the DART kiosks to be placed throughout the DART network, providing everything from train routes and timing to different locations in the network. But also, we partnered with 'Smart Cities' to provide information about restaurants and local points of interest that would serve our customers,” Shattles said.
The Addison station, which was part of the original Cotton Belt, still had some of the old tracks, which are just waiting to be removed, graded over, and cemented in anticipation of the Silver Line.
“Now, Addison was one of the original 13 DART service area cities. Since the beginning, Addison has not been served by light rail. We have one of the very largest bus stations at our bus transit center in the City of Addison. So, as you can imagine, Addison has been looking forward to the Silver Line for a very long time. When we had the first groundbreaking in September of 2019, the excitement from both the elected officials and the people of Addison was very impressive. Addison is well known for several festivals, some of which are the largest festivals in the DFW area, including Oktoberfest and the ‘Fourth July Kaboom Town.’ They believe that the light rail service will be a great addition to try to alleviate traffic in the area, but also to extend the growth they've experienced so far,” Shattles said.
For more information about the new and improved DART system, or to inquire about the various services that DART provides for seniors and the disabled, visit DART.org.
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