Enhancing Transit Choices in Downtown Dallas
Dallas Streetcar Opens
In April 2015, the first segment of the highly anticipated Dallas Streetcar became reality. The 1.6-mile line operates between Methodist Dallas Medical Center in North Oak Cliff and downtown's Union Station - with convenient connections to two DART Rail lines, the Trinity Railway Express and Amtrak.
The city-owned Dallas Streetcar marks a new kind of partnership for DART. City officials turned to the transit agency for its rail-development expertise and is paying DART to design, build, operate and maintain the modern streetcar system, which was partly funded by $26 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) TIGER grants.
The city of Dallas and Pennsylvania-based streetcar manufacturer Brookville Equipment Corp. have received international attention for the innovative dual-power design of the streetcar vehicles. The streetcars operate using overhead electrical wires on solid ground, but switch to rechargeable battery power when running over the historic Houston Street Viaduct across the Trinity River Corridor.
DART now is constructing the second phase, which extends the line farther south to the Bishop Arts District, a popular cultural, dining and nightlife destination. That segment is scheduled to open in August.
"We're putting the pieces in place for greatly improved transit in and around downtown," said Jay Kline, DART's director of streetcar programs. "In the coming year, expect improved service levels on the streetcar. The ultimate goal is to have these modes seamlessly connected so that getting from point to point in the city core is fast and convenient for visitors, residents and workers."
M-Line Trolley Route Expands
A block away from St. Paul Station (see map), the M-Line Trolley now travels deep into downtown on a loop of track through the Dallas Arts District. The loop, along with a turntable at the line's other terminus at Cityplace/Uptown Station, allows the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority to operate historic trolleys, which can move in only one direction.
The new length of track, owned by the city of Dallas, was designed to accommodate both modern streetcars and the M-Line's fleet of heritage trolleys. DART utilized a $5 million 2Urban Circulator Grant from the FTA to build half of the loop. The city constructed the other half using a $4.9 million grant from the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
First Electric Buses are Coming
In February 2015, DART was selected as a recipient of a $7.6 million grant as part of the Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program (LoNo Program) toward the purchase of seven zero-emission, all-electric buses - as well as the infrastructure to charge and maintain them.
The electric buses are slated to be used on the D-Link, a downtown circulator route currently subsidized by DART, city of Dallas and Downtown Dallas, Inc. The Proterra EV buses, which should arrive by late 2016, will join the electric light rail trains as zero-emission vehicles in DART's transit fleet.
Plans call for four charging stations - two at the bus operating facility and two at Convention Center Station. A roof-mounted charging dock allows the bus to pull under the charger to repower. The electric battery technology is similar to that used on the Dallas Streetcar.
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