The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States. Regardless of where they live, many North Texans travel within the DART Service Area every day for work, school, medical care, entertainment and more.
Many factors will influence ridership growth within the DART Service Area in the decades ahead.
According to forecasts by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the Dallas-Fort Worth region is expected to grow from the current population of 6.8 million to 9.8 million people by the year 2035. The increasing population is placing greater demands on the regional transportation system, including DART.
Transportation providers as diverse as intercity bus services, like Megabus and Greyhound, and rural transit agencies deliver riders daily onto DART's trains and buses. Yet it is other regional rail providers, like the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA), that create the greatest influx of ridership as they deliver passengers by the train load.
Since the '90s, DART and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) have jointly developed and operated the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) - the first commuter rail line in the Southwest - which brings travelers to Victory and Union stations. DCTA launched its A-train commuter rail service in June 2011 and connects to the Green Line at Trinity Mills Station in Carrollton.
The T's TEX Rail commuter rail line would terminate at DFW Airport adjacent to Terminal B and would connect to DART's DFW Airport Station and Terminal A via a walkway.
The T Begins Design of TEX Rail to DFW Airport
The T is developing a 27-mile commuter rail project known as TEX Rail in Tarrant County. The initial service section will extend from downtown Fort Worth through Haltom City, North Richland Hills and Grapevine to the TEX Rail Station at Terminal B at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
For most of the route, the proposed rail line would lease existing right-of-way owned by DART, or owned/operated by freight railroads. TEX Rail would connect with the TRE at the two existing downtown Fort Worth stations - Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center and T&P stations - and with DART Rail at DFW Airport.
In September 2014, The T received a Record of Decision (ROD) from the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration that could lead to the start of TEX Rail construction in 2016.
The ROD signals federal approval of TEX Rail's environmental impact statement and authorizes The T to contract for and begin the design of the project. The ROD also allows The T to begin acquiring the property necessary for stations and other project needs.
The T anticipates FTA permission to enter the engineering phase of the project during the second quarter of 2015. The agency has selected its design consultant and begun acquiring real estate, and is negotiating with the proposed train manufacturer. The schedule for beginning service is 2018.
Texas Central Railway is working with Central Japan Railway Company on the deployment of a "N700-I Bullet" high-speed rail system between Dallas and Houston.
High-Speed Rail Gains Momentum
Texas Central Railway, a private Texas company, is working to bring high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston as early as 2021. TCR announced that it had selected two locations as potential sites for the Dallas station, both located south of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in the district anchored by the mixed-use development South Side on Lamar.
TCR's proposal is making its way through a federal environmental review process, with the goal of completing it by 2016. If cleared and private funding is secured, construction could begin on the route and stations by 2017. Train service would start four years later in 2021.
The trip would take approximately 90 minutes - revolutionizing travel in Texas.
With the arrival of each high-speed rail train, approximately 200 to 300 passengers could transfer onto the DART System. The public transit agency's plans for platform extensions and a second downtown alignment (see page 5) would help accommodate the potential surges in ridership.
TCR also is studying the possibility of high-speed rail along a 35-mile corridor between Dallas and Fort Worth. The company envisions a high-speed rail network connecting major cities throughout Texas and neighboring states.
The agency is collecting community input on the future growth of the DART System through field interviews and online discussion forums.
DART Plans for the Future
In 2014, DART began a two-year process to update the long-term Transit System Plan. Since that time, major changes in the demographics and economic development of the region have occurred. The DART Board will be asked to approve the new 2040 Transit System Plan in 2016.
During 2015, DART will complete Phase 1, which includes a Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) of the bus network. Coupled with a market analysis and a thorough public outreach program,
the COA will result in several short- and medium-term recommended plans for bus service through 2025.
During Phase 2 of the Transit System Plan, DART will evaluate its long-term capital projects and programs to ensure that the DART System meets the future travel needs of the region. This phase will be completed in 2016.
DART is working with riders, citizens, staff of cities within the service area, and other stakeholders to get public comment on both the COA and the 2040 Transit System Plan.
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