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Media Contact:
Morgan Lyons

March 16, 1998

BUS AND RAIL RIDERSHIP UP 1.9 million

Ridership on the rise, survey shows strong support for DART

New DART ridership figures show healthy gains in both bus and rail passenger boardings, and the results of a new survey demonstrate higher than ever support for regional mobility.

During the first quarter of DART's Fiscal Year 1998 (October to December 1997), total ridership for light rail, Trinity Railway Express commuter rail, bus service and high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes was up 7.4 million or 54% over the same quarter last year. Each weekday, DART serves more than 272,000 customers. The ridership gains are reflected in the following table:

Average weekday ridership First Quarter FY 1998 compared with FY 1997

DART Service

1st Quarter

FY 1998

1st Quarter FY 1997 Improvement

bus

154,600 147,700 6,900 (4.7%)

light rail

34,500 14,900 19,600 (131.5%)

commuter rail

1,300 n/a 1,300 (100%)

HOV lanes

81,900 22,100 59,800 (276%)
TOTALS 272,300 184,700 87,600 (47.4%)

DART President/Executive Director Roger Snoble was most pleased with the performance in DART's oldest and largest service: transit buses. "We are especially proud of the increase in bus ridership. The figures demonstrate the reversal of a six-year decline in bus ridership."

Dallas bus ridership increased by 4.7 percent over the first quarter of FY 1997, while all other DART member cities combined show a 7.9 percent increase in bus ridership.

The introduction of commuter rail service in December 1996, the expansion of light rail service to the northern and southern sectors of Dallas in January and May 1997 and the addition of two HOV lanes in March 1997 accounts for much of the systemwide ridership increase.

Those ridership gains are reflected in a recent telephone survey. More than eight out of ten respondents like the job DART is doing. The survey demonstrated growing support for and use of DART. For example, more than two-thirds of the respondents to the survey said they use DART and more than 44 percent said they use DART Rail. By contrast, in a 1994 survey only 24 percent of respondents said they used DART and only 14 percent said they would use rail when it arrived.

The telephone survey was conducted for DART by The Howell Research Group and sampled the opinions of 919 randomly selected adults living in DART's service area.

"The survey and ridership figures are the hard copy of what all of us at DART are hearing daily from our customers and stakeholders" Snoble said. The survey also reflects many of the service-enhancement steps already underway at DART.

For example, through its upcoming bus service change, DART is streamlining travel not only to downtown Dallas but also between member cities. Taking the next steps in bringing regional mobility to north Texas, DART is buying more rail cars and accelerating light rail expansion to the cities of Richardson, Garland and Plano; simplifying and improving bus service; and bringing more than 500 state-of-the art vehicles to update its bus fleet.

"Light rail trains and Trinity Railway Express trains are a new and attractive way to get around," Snoble added. "Once people ride and get a taste of the comfort and the money-saving aspects of public transportation, we hope they will try taking the bus to the train station. Our fleet of new high-tech buses will definitely make the choice even more appealing."

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