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In 2012, two phases of the 14-mile, $1.3 billion Orange Line opened in Irving, bringing customers closer to the corridor's final terminus at DFW International Airport. The Orange Line now connects to key destinations in North Irving, notably the master-planned community of Las Colinas.
Stations at the University of Dallas, the Las Colinas Urban Center and the Irving Convention Center opened in July, adding accessibility to the city's business core. In December, North Lake College and Belt Line stations opened. Buses now meet every train at Belt Line Station, connecting passengers to Terminal A. This route will continue until the Orange Line reaches DFW Station in December 2014.
The Orange Line received $61.2 million in ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) funds because of its employment impact and ability to attract additional development, companies, employees and residents to Irving. The project has produced more than 600 jobs at some 80 contractor companies in 14 states, and federal officials honored the Orange Line as one of the top "Recovery Act Projects Changing America."
Also in December, rail service began at the new Downtown Rowlett Station, connecting the city to Garland and beyond. The 4.5-mile, $360 million segment completes the build-out of the northeast corridor of the Blue Line. The station now anchors Rowlett's plans for redevelopment of the city's historic Main Street downtown area.
Heading South to UNT DallasDART is accelerating construction of an extension of the Blue Line to serve neighborhoods in southern Dallas as a result of improving local economic conditions and the success of DART's multiyear financial and budgetary initiatives.
The 2.6-mile Blue Line project will extend from the Ledbetter Station to new stops at Camp Wisdom Road and the University of North Texas at Dallas campus in 2016. This represents a three-year acceleration from previous plans.
Automatic Passenger Counters Tally RidershipBeginning in FY 2013, DART will calculate ridership on the light rail system exclusively from data collected from automatic passenger counters installed on its 48 newest vehicles. Throughout FY 2012, the agency counted passengers through both manual and electronic data collection methods, then compared the results.
The results were eye-opening. The APCs proved to be more accurate han the human counter during heavy passenger loads. As a result, DART has been underreporting light rail ridership by more than 15 percent. The agency has recalculated the FY 2012 rail ridership based on the automated counts.
Streetcars Come Full CircleDallas soon will have another mode of public transportation: new streetcars. DART is assisting the city in planning and building a 1.6-mile streetcar line from Union Station to Methodist Dallas Medical Center in Oak Cliff. The contractor - the Stacy and Whitbeck-Carcon joint venture - will then forge ahead with Phase 2 of the of the project to that neighborhood's up-and-coming, eclectic Bishop Arts District.
Oak Cliff has emerged as a haven for Dallas' creative class - an enclave of hip cafes, offbeat shops and bicycles. The area is especially well-suited to streetcar service.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments received a $26 million TIGER-1 grant from the Federal Transit Administration for the project, and the city of Dallas kicked in approximately $30 million. Another $30 million endowment from the Regional Transportation Council is funding Phase 2, as well as providing seed money for a proposed extension in downtown to the Dallas Convention Center.
Also, hot on the heels of completing a trolley turntable at Cityplace/Uptown Station, the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority (MATA) and the city of Dallas are building downtown extension of the popular M-Line heritage trolley.
The first part of the extension - extending down Olive Street from McKinney Avenue to Bryan Street near DART's Pearl/Arts District Station - is expected to open this summer. The next step will be to complete the loop from the current terminus at St. Paul Street to Olive Street.
The Olive/St. Paul loop, together with the turntable, will allow MATA to put vintage streetcars into service that cannot operate in both directions like the rest of the fleet.
All told, the downtown loop totals approximately $20 million, which comes from the mix of a federal Urban Circulator Grant and local funding from the city of Dallas. DART is responsible for managing the contract and administering the grant.
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