Next City takes a look at Dallas’ public transit history and competition in the northern reaches of the region between DART and para-transit companies. There’s not much new in the piece if you’ve been following the issue closely, but perhaps the best part of the article is its summation of how policy and an evolving and expanding region have created a dysfunctional transit network:
In 1983, 14 cities in the then much smaller Dallas metro voted to form the Dallas Area Rapid Transit agency (13 eventually joined) and agreed to pay a one-cent sales tax for building and maintenance fees. . . .
The vote came after state officials passed a law allowing the tax bump. Originally meant only for transportation, the sales tax revenue was eventually used for other civic projects, a concession that had unintended consequences. Cities spent the money on what they considered top projects — parks, sports complexes, police services — little realizing how much they’d need transit later on. Today, the metro landscape is still shaped by priorities from long ago.
Meanwhile, its population is rapidly growing, and not necessarily in a way planners would consider smart. Beyond DART’s exoskeleton, especially in Collin County, residents commute in to Dallas and workers commute out.
To meet these commuting patterns, para-transit companies have stepped in, offering routes DART can’t provide, like a bus route for people who work at the casino on the Oklahoma border. The article ends with a warning worth heading. If we are going to learn from the mess bad policy from thirty years ago created today, we need to act to promote a synchronized system moving forward. If things continue to evolve organically, however, we’ll still be stuck figuring out what to do with a fractured system 30 years from now.