It’s just like buying a house; you’ve got to maintain what you build. To best prepare for North Texas’s transit future, DART factors in maintenance costs when planning any project. Regardless of how much something like D2 costs to build, it inevitably will require repairs and improvements. Wear and tear to a transportation system over time must be addressed in order to keep service reliable and DART customers safe.
From an operational standpoint, the size and scope of a transit system dictates how expensive repairs and improvements will be. Previous experience has told us that maintenance for aboveground projects is relatively inexpensive with minimal disruption for rail passengers. For example, when it was time to replace worn sections of light rail track in Downtown Dallas, work was done on weekends, holidays, and overnight.
Tunnel repairs are much more complicated. The longer the tunnel, the more challenging it is to access faulty tracks, transport the necessary maintenance equipment, and continue uninterrupted service for passengers. Due to these challenges, tunnel repairs take longer and are more expensive. To get some perspective, tunnel systems in Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., are behind in keeping rail improvements up to date due to high maintenance costs and limited federal funding.
When the D2 proposal was sent to the Federal Transit Administration, DART was accounting for both the upfront and the long-term costs. Whichever rail option is implemented, DART must make sure we have the necessary funds to continue providing safe, reliable transportation throughout North Texas for years to come.