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Morgan Lyons

October 1, 1999

 

DART Board approves budget for 2000

New Business Plan Supports Service Growth

DART's Board of Directors has approved $831.2 million for Fiscal Year 2000 as part of a five-year business plan to expand service throughout the region.

Use of DART services has continued to grow since 1996 when DART established a five-year plan to double ridership from 48.5 million passenger trips by Fiscal Year 2001. The new business plan projects more than 95 million passenger trips in FY 2000 and more than 100 million the following year. "Increasing ridership is our goal," DART President/Executive Director Roger Snoble said. "Achieving that goal is a tribute to the hard work of lots of people and the support of our member cities."

"DART has focused on operating more like a business, and it's paying dividends," said DART Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Chris Poinsatte. "We now understand the strategies that need to be implemented to increase ridership and contain costs, and these strategies are identified for the Board and the public in the new business plan."

DART's FY 2000 budget is divided into three parts: operations, capital and debt service. The $243.5 million operating budget represents a $17 million increase over the current year primarily to accommodate expanded bus and rail service.

Some of the larger projects included in the $480.5 million capital budget include continued construction of light rail extensions to Garland, Richardson and Plano, the completion of Cityplace Station, purchase of new buses, improvements to the Trinity Railway Express commuter rail corridor and the construction of additional High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.

The FY 2000 debt service budget of $107.2 million will be used to retire debt issued to construct the 20-mile Light Rail Starter System.

Addition of New Services Continues
As it adds riders, DART continues to reach out to every corner of its 700-square-mile service area. The new Addison Transit Center opened in June, and the underground light rail station at Cityplace is expected to open in December 2000. In addition, service on the Trinity Railway Express will be extended to the west with the opening of the West Irving Station on Esters Road. In partnership with the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, the introduction of commuter rail service in Tarrant County is scheduled for fall 2000.

DART's bus fleet is getting younger all the time. Over the next two years, DART will continue introducing new state-of-the-art buses to replace its older buses. DART also plans to bolster ridership through more aggressive marketing aimed at improving rider awareness and expanding employer pass programs. In the coming months, DART will continue focusing on the quality of service by adding more passenger amenities and improving park and ride facilities.

DART and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) are adding 11 more miles of HOV lanes by mid 2001, stretching south of downtown Dallas along I-35E and U.S. 67 to Interstate 20. New construction gets underway in 2000 for both the I-30 Ferguson Road HOV ramp and the Stemmons HOV ramp that will connect to the North Carrollton Transit Center.

Light Rail stations serving Richardson and Plano are scheduled to open in 2002 and 2003. Construction of the North Central and Northeast light rail line extensions is on schedule and under budget.

Member City Support Remains Critical
The Federal Transit Administration will soon approve a $333 million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for the North Central Light Rail Transit project. DART also plans to issue $190 million of debt to continue the build-out of the light rail system. Such steps would not have been possible if not for the clear support of DART's member cities.

"We are very appreciative of the direction we have received over the past year from the Board and the support from our member cities and the chambers of commerce with respect to DART's debt and federal funding issues," Snoble said. "It is clear that the region has embraced mass transit and supports the continued expansion of the system as quickly as possible."

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