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Dallas Area Rapid Transit's (DART) streetcar between downtown Dallas and the city's Oak Cliff district officially opened to riders yesterday morning. The occasion marks the first time that downtown Dallas has seen streetcar service in nearly 50 years. "Our track record with DART light rail and the Trinity Railway Express gave the city of Dallas confidence that we also could successfully design, build, operate and maintain the Dallas Streetcar," said DART President and Executive Director Gary Thomas in a press release.The streetcar now provides free service on weekdays and operates 1.6 miles between Union Station in downtown Dallas to Oak Cliff's Methodist Dallas Medical Center. The project's second phase, which will extend the route to shopping and dining areas in Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District, is expected to be completed by early 2016. A third leg is expected to expand the line to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and Omni Dallas Hotel.A federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant provided $26 million to kick off the project. An additional $3 million in stimulus money, regional toll-road revenue and other funding covered the costs of the $50 million project, according to The Dallas Morning News.