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Rail News: Passenger Rail

DART marks 30th anniversary, preps for growth


Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officials will celebrate the agency's 30th anniversary on Aug. 13.

On Aug. 13, 1983, residents of Dallas and 13 other cities voted to be part of the new transit agency and pay a 1 percent sales tax to fund it. The tax took effect in January 1984, and DART officially began operations. Now, DART is one of the largest transit agencies in the Southwest, with the nation's longest light-rail system, agency officials said in a press release.

"For the first 30 years, the agency has focused on getting the infrastructure in place and working together effectively," said President and Executive Director Gary Thomas. "Now that the integrated bus and rail systems cover a broad geographic area, we're influencing how our region grows and how people get around."

DART opened the first 11.2 miles of its 20-mile light-rail starter system in June 1996; later that year, the Trinity Railway Express opened the first 10-mile segment between downtown Dallas and Irving.

Today, the Orange Line traveling through Irving is one stop away from the most highly anticipated destination: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, DART officials said. The DFW Station, adjacent to Terminal A, is on track to open in December 2014, they said.

With construction of the original transit plan nearly completed, the agency plans to shift much of its focus to increasing passenger capacity and maintaining capital assets, DART officials said.

In March, the agency's board amended its policy on contracting transit service outside the current service area. The new policy will give cities a way to gradually join the transit authority, while "being fair" to residents of the cities that have contributed the 1-cent sales tax since 1984, DART officials said.