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DART shut down during Winter Storm Landon — and Dallas council members want to know why

A Dallas resident stands in the cold by a bus stop. DART canceled bus services during the winter storm.
Keren Carrión
A Dallas resident stands in the cold by a bus stop. DART canceled bus services during a winter storm in early February.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit shut down all bus and light-rail services during the winter storm in early February. And some Dallas city council members are demanding to know why.

At a meeting Wednesday, council members were briefed on an internal review that looked into how the City of Dallas responded to Winter Storm Landon.

Among its recommendations — better communication and coordination between the city and DART ahead of extreme weather. The transit agency had never shut down all of its services before that storm and some council members were caught off guard.

“This kind of storm is pretty frequent in Dallas. This is not an unheard of situation. And so, I'm just trying to understand why did we have these massive shutdowns of trains and buses," Council member Cara Mendelsohn said.

Icy road conditions interfered with rail and bus operations during the storm. More than 30 buses got stuck and were out of service. But DART President Nadine Lee said slippery roads were partly to blame for stopping buses and trains.

“We are still short operators. And so, during a winter storm event when you are down 130 operators. We have operators also trying to get to work who can't get to work as well,” she said.

Lee said DART has been struggling because it is short bus drivers. Council members said transportation is a lifeline during extreme weather and stopping services was unacceptable.

“To me y'all did not prepare for the ice. Is there a reason communication was broke or what?” Council Member Tennell Atkins said.

Atkins said many residents reached out to him saying they were stranded and couldn't get to medical appointments or their jobs.

The report suggests the transportation agency set clear guidelines on how it will respond to severe weather events in the future.

Lee said next time around the transit agency will have a better game plan and promised to work to get buses running quicker and ensure it communicates service changes to residents.

The report by the city’s office of emergency management was created at the request of the mayor. It is not completed, but early estimates show response efforts cost $1 million.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.