DART making more than token cuts
02:41 PM CDT on Saturday, October 4, 2003
By TONY HARTZEL / The Dallas Morning News
Maybe DART should bring back the bunny ears.
The transit agency has dropped its latest downtown circulator
bus route and 15 other routes because of low ridership and
sales tax revenue shortfalls. The routes, which will stop
running Monday, have been around for at least a year. But
the downtown route has been tried in various forms and scrapped
many times over the years.
First came the Hop-A-Bus, which leapt onto the downtown scene
in 1978 when the old Dallas Transit System painted whiskers
on old buses and slapped yard-long bunny ears on them to boot.
Instantly recognizable, they forged an identity that many
But they and other circulator bus services that followed
have proved to be no match for light-rail trains, which started
running in downtown in 1996.
"We've tried just about everything," said Tim Newby,
assistant vice president for Dallas Area Rapid Transit. "We
have admittedly struggled with a downtown circulator. But
we do have those bunny ears around here somewhere."
Downtown workers should look for Route 8, which runs down
Young Street from Union Station before heading down Ervay
and St. Paul streets. In addition, Route 60 runs down Main
Street, but not as often as the last circulator bus that ran
from the Arts District to the West End.
Other service cuts are spread throughout the region. Routes
that serve Dallas Love Field, East Plano, Garland, Richardson,
southwest Dallas, Addison and Farmers Branch will be cut.
Thirty-nine other routes have been modified. Light-rail service
during middays will drop from every 15 minutes to every 20
Route 539 buses that ran from the Lovers Lane station to
Dallas Love Field have been eliminated, meaning southbound
transit users will have to spend an extra 13 minutes riding
downtown and catching the No. 39 bus to the airport. But when
the agency cut a route to the Potter's House church in southwest
Dallas, it modified other routes to keep service running for
the 100 Sunday morning riders.
In some cases, other routes will be available for bus passengers.
In eastern Plano, North Dallas and Farmers Branch, DART will
launch an on-call bus service that costs more but offers flexible
pickup times and locations.
DART also has eliminated trolley buses that served light-rail
stations and employment centers in Plano and Richardson. The
economic slowdown led to the elimination of the Richardson
trolley buses that served the Telecom Corridor. The transit
agency will continue to work with the city and employers to
try to develop new service, Mr. Newby said.
"Having a lot of vacant buildings in the telecom area
limits our ability to do something," he said.
An estimated 3,000 riders a day will stop using DART because
of the route changes, roughly 2 percent of DART's total ridership.
The cuts will save the agency about $14 million a year.
"We've held off making these adjustments for two years
since we've started to see sales tax revenue decline,"
Mr. Newby said. "We're always reducing some service,
but the scale is larger this time."
For more information about changes, call 214-979-1111.
• TollTag users, take note: Dallas/Fort Worth International
Airport now accepts the same electronic toll payment as used
on area toll roads.
The airport has dedicated TollTag lanes that will deduct
parking charges under $10 from an active TollTag account balance.
The tag account must be tied to an active credit card to be
used at D/FW.
If more than $10, the charge will be billed directly to the
credit card associated with the tag account. On Monday, TollTags
also can be used on toll roads in the Houston area.