The numbers alone surrounding the 20th anniversary of the launch of DART Rail are notable:
• More than 360 million passenger trips
• 90 miles of rail (longest system in the country)
• $8 billion in economic impact
• $5 billion in private transit oriented development at or near rail stations.
But even more impressive, the still-growing rail network “is changing the way the region grows and how North Texans live,” DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas said. “DART Rail is delivering new development` in every community we serve. Dallas is enjoying a renewed downtown, new destinations, and better access to healthcare. Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Garland, Irving, Plano, Richardson and Rowlett each have new, vibrant transit-oriented communities that are gaining national attention,” he added.
DART Rail debuted on June 14, 1996 with an 11-mile network of Red and Blue lines that extended from Pearl Station in the north, through downtown Dallas to 8th and Corinth Station where the two lines separated. The Blue Line continued mostly due south to Illinois Station and the Red Line went south and southwest to Westmoreland Station, all within the Dallas city limits. Today, DART Rail is 90 miles long and has 62 stations in eight cities.
DART is still growing. In late October, the southernmost section of the Blue Line will be extended three miles, adding greater connectivity in the education corridor, from an updated Ledbetter Station to the new UNT Dallas Station – and a Camp Wisdom Station in between. Separately, DART planners are still developing a second rail alignment through Downtown Dallas that is scheduled to open in 2021.
More than one anniversary
The Trinity Railway Express commuter rail line, jointly owned by DART and the Fort Worth T, also marks 20 years of operation in 2016. The first 10 miles of the 35-mile line debuted on Dec. 30, 1996, running from Union Station to what is now Downtown Irving/Heritage Crossing Station.