Introducing New Buses and Services
Buses always will be at the heart of DART's operations, carrying more riders than any other mode and taking passengers between destinations and rail lines. What began with the Dallas Transit System has grown into a vast network of multistop, express, site-specific and contract routes that utilize a mix of vehicles to meet customers' travel needs.
Replacement upgrades fleetDART is replacing its entire fleet of more than 600 buses with vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas. The agency is transitioning to CNG for both economic and environmental reasons: It costs less than diesel and is cleaner-burning.
The bus replacement landed at a time when DART was looking for measures that could lower annual operating expenses by the millions. By changing the size of some of its vehicles, the agency could minimize service cuts - and save millions annually.
"We had to find a more cost-effective way to provide bus services," said Todd Plesko, vice president of planning and development.
In late 2012, the first buses arrived. The fleet of 123 smaller, 26-foot buses is manufactured by ARBOC Specialty Vehicles of Middlebury, Ind. Carrying 14 or 17 passengers each, these buses are used for Flex and On-Call services, as well as on lower ridership routes.
New 40-foot buses from North American Bus Industries began service in January 2013. Later in October, the first 31-foot buses arrived. NABI will deliver the final buses in 2016.
D-Link connects downtown and Oak CliffIn November, the (DART Route 722) debuted in downtown Dallas, connecting major tourist attractions, dining destinations, and employment centers in downtown Dallas and neighboring districts as well as the DART Rail System. The route also connects to the Bishop Arts District and Jefferson Avenue areas of Dallas' Oak Cliff neighborhood, home to various restaurants, shops, theaters and residential communities.
The two-year pilot project is a partnership among DART, the city of Dallas and Downtown Dallas, Inc. To encourage ridership, project partners are offering the D-Link trips for free. While this bus service is undoubtedly a tourist and convention visitor resource, the frequency and route also make it easier to reach employers located in and near downtown.
The shuttle arrives every 15 minutes from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The magenta and yellow bus wrap makes D-Link easy to see as it picks up riders at more than 70 stops marked by matching magenta signs.
Routes customize serviceDuring the past fiscal year, the agency introduced or modified several routes to better meet the needs of the riders and their schedules.
Rapid Ride 987 began as DART's first foray into rapid bus services. The route stops at four light rail stations, follows much of Forest Lane and hits points near the Dallas Galleria. But the route's main appeal is limited stops that get passengers across town faster.
Another effort evaluated the system's 12,500 stops for a number of criteria: accessibility, ridership, spacing, amenities and destination. The agency identified three routes ripe for stop consolidation, and then surveyed customers, bus operators and veteran transit service planners to determine which inaccessible or ineffective stops could be eliminated. DART will assess the successes and challenges of the pilot program to determine whether to consolidate stops on other routes.
A new DART On-Call route began serving University Park and Highland Park, as well as parts of Dallas near Inwood Village shopping center. Anchored at Mockingbird Station, the Park Cities On-Call gives people more ways to access shopping and employment opportunities. Nearby, Southern Methodist University contracted for the Museum Express shuttle, which transports visitors from Mockingbird Station to the George W. Bush Presidential Center and Museum and the Meadows Museum of Art.
The high-volume Parkland Shuttle Route 703 was converted to 24/7 service - DART's first route to operate around the clock. Medical professionals and patients, who often need to travel between buildings at all hours, now can catch a bus every 15 minutes between Southwestern Medical District/Parkland Station and stops near the numerous hospitals, clinics and professional buildings.
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