Why Do Plano-ites Prefer Fighting Traffic Gridlock to Riding DART Light-Rail?

Today the Morning News writes (behind the paywall) about how the transit agency will soon (in 2014) have no more rail lines to build and will have to focus instead on something it’s “never been very good at”:  getting more people to ride.

DART light-rail ridership has grown significantly since the first cars began moving 16 years ago this month, but that growth has been dependent on a stream of groundbreakings. Largely obscured by all the ribbon-cuttings: The longer many stations are in service, the less people use them.

I already explained that if DART wants to get me to to ride, it’s going to have make driving and parking downtown way more inconvenient.

It’s one thing for someone like me, who lives relatively close to the office and never has to sit in traffic gridlock during the daily commute, to decline to use DART.  But all those poor souls who trek into the big city from Collin County? Who spend hours every week cursing their way down the Dallas North Tollway or U.S. 75?   Even they won’t get on board?  I was suprised at just how low ridership is in Plano:

But in the nearly 10 years it has been open, the downtown Plano station has never attracted more than an average of about 350 passengers each weekday. In April, that number was about 250.

Plano has collected nearly $1 billion in sales taxes to support DART, and its two rail stations opened a decade ago. But the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent estimate is that of the city’s 133,000 or so workers, only about 2,000 used mass transit of any kind – buses or rail – in 2010. That’s down a third since 2005.

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