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DART weighs service cuts amid talks of reduced funding

A woman gets ready to board a DART bus in downtown Dallas.
Pablo Arauz Peña
A woman gets ready to board a DART bus in downtown Dallas.

City leaders in Dallas are asking their representatives on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board to think about what changes could be made to services if the city reduces its funding for the agency.

City councilmembers have been talking in recent meetings about diverting 25 percent of its sales tax funding for DART toward filling a gap in the city's pension fund, according to The Dallas Morning News.

"We'd have major reductions in DART operations, maintenance and administrative workforce," DART spokesperson Jeamy Molina told KERA. "There would be a reduced need for services and construction contracts and so then that causes a ripple effect throughout the local economy and it hurts the businesses that we work with already."

Unlike many transit agencies across the country, DART gets most of its funding from contributions from its 13 member cities. DART CEO Nadine Lee warned in a memo to city leaders that a reduction would amount to a $6 billion loss in revenue over 20 years.

According to the memo, bus service frequency could be reduced to 30 minutes or longer if the cut goes through.

During a special meeting of the city's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Monday, city leaders interviewed DART incumbent board members Carmen Garcia and Rodney Schlosser for their board positions, asking about the direction of the agency in lieu of the possible funding cut.

District 13 Council Member Gay Donnell Willis asked if the agency is looking to bring new member cities to the agency's service area to make up for the funding gap.

"There's no intent to hobble DART. That's a valuable service that's provided to so many in our community," Willis said. "The expectation would be an understanding of where DART is looking to the future, and maybe including other communities."

Schlosser told Willis that DART has had discussions with other cities to expand service, but many aren't motivated to fund the agency.

"Their inquiries to date have been for basically a contract to provide some type of bus service," Schlosser said. "There's been no appetite for light rail and there's been no appetite for what I would consider to be a robust transportation solution."

Schlosser maintained that any reduction in funding would mean cuts to service. He said the agency's board hired consulting firm Ernst & Young to understand what portion of services are in cities relative to their sales tax contribution.

"It is critical that we take a look at this survey," Garcia added, "because it may open our eyes to as well in terms of identifying where we stand with the whole agency in itself."

Later on Monday, DART leaders met to discuss the agency's strategic plan for its 2025 budget with the funding cut top of mind.

Paul Wageman, chair of DART’s Budget and Finance Committee, suggested the agency take a closer look at long-term funding for the Trinity Railway Express. The agency jointly owns and operates the rail line with Trinity Metro.

“It is an incredibly costly capital outlay that this agency is considering for moving very few people,” Wageman said. “If it's just, ‘Well, we have it and we got to keep funding it’ with no real game plan to double or triple the ridership, then I don't know why we continue to do this.”

The committee plans to vote on a strategic plan next week as it considers employee sick leave, pay raises, travel expenses and member city contributions.

"We need to just do a better job of currently communicating in a very simple way where are our dollars going because I know our city councils are asking," said DART board member Flora Hernandez, who represents Dallas.

City leaders are expected to continue discussions about its sales tax contribution to DART during its Ad Hoc Committee on Pensions this Thursday.

Pablo Arauz Peña is KERA’s growth and infrastructure reporter. Got a tip? Email Pablo at You can follow him on X @pabloaarauz.

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Pablo Arauz Peña is the Growth and Infrastructure Reporter for KERA News.