DART News Release
November 19, 1998
DART patronage up 22.5% in FY 1998
More than 85 million trips made on DART last yearDART ridership jumped by almost 16 million passenger trips during Fiscal Year 1998 as more people took advantage of the growing network of buses, light rail and commuter trains and high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes.
DART's rail ridership gains are especially impressive in comparison to national trends. In October, the American Public Transit Association reported a 5.8% increase in use of light rail and a 4.6% increase in the use of commuter rail nationwide during the first six months of 1998 compared with 1997. In contrast, DART light rail ridership was up 37.3% and commuter rail ridership grew 164.7%.
DART enjoyed ridership increases in each of its modes: bus, light rail, Trinity Railway Express (commuter rail) and HOV lanes.
DART Ridership Growing
(numbers are rounded and reported in passenger trips for the Fiscal Year ending 9/30/98)
"It's gratifying to see these increases. They reflect the efforts of lots of people at DART who are making customer service and quality a daily priority," DART President/Executive Director Roger
Snoble said. "In the past year we've made major bus service improvements and taken steps to advance the expansion of light and commuter rail."
"In the transit industry, DART is being singled out as an example of public cooperation, efficiency and innovation," DART Board Chairman Norma Stanton of Irving added. "Almost monthly, we host out-of-town transit officials who want to see how DART delivers rail, along with other transit modes. One of the most striking things they see -- and a major factor in our success -- is the enthusiastic support of our member cities."
That support is reflected in the bus ridership gains posted in 12 of DART's 13 member cities during the past 12 months.
DART Bus Ridership Strong Systemwide
(reported in number of passenger trips)
Bus enhancements boost ridership
The foundation for DART's 1998 bus ridership gains was set in 1997 as the agency invested in additional transit police officers to enhance bus system security and launched a five-year bus action plan that features new and improved bus routes, better customer-information signage at transit centers and adds passenger amenities such as benches and shelters at more bus stops.
As a result of those efforts, monthly bus ridership increased each month of FY 1998 and in September exceeded 4.2 million passenger trips -- the highest one month total in the last six years. Average weekday ridership in September was 177,800.
To further enhance service, DART is building a new bus maintenance facility in South Oak Cliff; new passenger facilities in Addison, South Dallas and Pleasant Grove; and introducing a new fleet of state-of the-art buses and Trolley-Bus shuttles, all of which are wheelchair-accessible for disabled customers.
Light rail continues steady growth, prepares for expansion
Ridership on DART's 20-mile Light Rail Starter System continues to grow. Average weekday ridership grew 42% -- from 25,700 in FY 1997 to 36,500 in FY 1998. Average daily ridership in September was more than 41,000, and more than 1 million passenger trips were made that month.
DART kicks off construction this winter on light rail extensions to Garland, Richardson and Plano, and is purchasing 55 more rail vehicles, the first of which begin arriving in summer 1999. Service is scheduled to open to Richardson and Garland by 2002 and to Plano by 2003.
Commuter rail building support, adding Saturday service
More commuters are discovering DART's Trinity Railway Express commuter rail service. Ridership in the past year increased more than 165% from 190,000 passenger trips to more than half a million. A large part of the increase is due to the addition of mid-day and evening service on the line which connects Irving with downtown Dallas. DART Vice President of Commuter Rail Lonnie Blaydes expects another ridership boost when the Trinity Railway Express introduces Saturday service in December.
HOV lanes setting national standards
DART's newest HOV lane -- along I-635 LBJ Freeway in North Dallas -- is one of the nation's busiest, providing a fast-moving lane for 48,500 daily commuters. All together, the network of HOV lanes along I-35 Stemmons Freeway, I-30 East R. L. Thornton Freeway and LBJ Freeway ease the commute for more than 93,000 users daily.
Work is already underway on a new 11-mile section of HOV lanes which will run south of downtown Dallas along busy the South R. L. Thornton and Marvin D. Love freeways. Scheduled to open in late 1999, the lanes are expected to save commuters about 14 minutes daily.
Stepped-up marketing paying dividends
DART's increased emphasis on customer service and marketing played a vital role in boosting ridership, according to DART Vice President of Marketing Communications Sue Bauman.
"Easier to read signage, more training for our customer service staff, a streamlined bus route system and a stepped-up marketing and advertising effort all played a part in our recent success," she said.
DART also introduced a new pass program called E-Pass, which allows employers to purchase annual passes a greatly reduced rates and pass them on to their employees as a new benefit. Participating companies include the Environmental Protection Agency, Bank of America, Central Dallas Association, Electronic Data Systems, Jayhawk Acceptance Corporation, Tetra Tech EM, Inc., Transamerica Real Estate Information Companies, Whataburger and Hunt Oil Company.
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