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DART Wants To Upgrade Entire Bus Network

Yellow DART bus parked on side of street near a bus stop
Courtesy of DART
In its redesign, one of DART's goals is to improve bus availability with a focus on service frequency.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit is aiming to redesign its entire bus network. If approved, the new changes would take effect in January 2022.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit is undertaking an ambitious redesign of its entire bus network. The goal is to build a system that can meet the needs of a rapidly growing metroplex. KERA's Justin Martin spoke with Rob Smith, the vice president of service planning and development for DART, about the agency's plans.

Interview highlights were lightly edited for clarity.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

On What's Being Changed With The Bus System:

We're talking about every route, basically we started with a clean sheet of paper and looked at the entire system and are proposing a complete transition to a new and very different bus network.

On "Better Access To Bus Service":

Probably the biggest change in terms of what we're proposing is changes to service frequency. That's one of the core things that helps determine whether someone is going to choose to use transit or not.

Traditionally, DART's service has been relatively infrequent. We have many routes that run every hour during off peak periods, outside the rush hour.

So we're proposing to create a much larger group of what we call frequent routes that run every 15 or 20 minutes most of the time, and then improve our other routes to run every 30 or every 40 minutes, depending on the time of day with relatively few routes running every 60 minutes.

On Light Rail And Other Upgrades:

Part of the proposal for January is to restore light rail service, to pre-pandemic frequencies, basically getting the schedules back to where they were before everything slowed down, and before we reduced levels of service.

Longer term DART continues to work on a couple of other rail projects, silver line, which would be a new east-west rail line in the Northern suburbs, going to DFW and the D2 project in downtown Dallas to create a second rail alignment in downtown.

Others within DART are working on those; those are much longer timeframe items, but we are working on getting the rail system back to where it was before the pandemic as a first step.

On When The Changes Will Take Place:

There will be no shut down at all. It will transition seamlessly one day we will be running the old system and the next day we'll be running the new system.

The plan as of right now is if our board of directors approves these changes later this summer, that day would be January 24t, 2022, and we would implement the expanded bus network and the light rail schedule changes I mentioned all on that date.

Got a tip? Email Justin Martin at Jmartin@kera.org. You can follow Justin on Twitter @MisterJMart.

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Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.