News bits: Dallas Streetcar’s ‘praying mantis’ arm keeps the vehicle rolling


Dallas’ various public transportation vehicles have drawn a lot of comparisons in the past, but mechanical praying mantis is definitely a new one.

KERA, the local public radio station and website, highlights the Dallas Streetcar in a new story posted on and played over the airwaves.

At Union Station, as passengers board, the car gets charged. There’s a folding pantograph on top — think the arms of a mechanical praying mantis – and they unfold toward the wires above.

“See it started right there?” Ball explains, after hearing the click. “It just went up right now. Now it’s charging. When he takes off, he’ll lower it,” Ball says of the car’s operator.

With the prey of electricity in hand, those mechanical arms send the power down to two batteries beneath the car. After a few minutes charge, off it goes over the bridge with no wires attached.

Read (and listen) to the story over at And if you haven’t tried the Dallas Streetcar yet, today would be a great day to hop on at Union Station and ride to lunch at Jonathon’s Oak Cliff or El Fenix.

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