A few days ago I wrote about how DART needs to follow the lead of other cities, such as Houston, and reroute their bus system. Well, DART officials say that’s exactly what they may do as part of the 10 Year Service Plan the transit organization is beginning to develop. Public meetings began this week to solicit feedback from riders about how the bus system can evolve to best suit their needs. There’s also an online survey you can fill out to offer feedback on what you believe DART’s priorities should be. (Here’s a cheat sheet for one of the questions: Frequent “to you” means buses every 10-15 minutes, no matter who “you” are.)
DART’s future planning includes the launch last month of a comprehensive operations analysis, which promises to analyze every bus, shuttle, on-call and flex routes in the system. It’s part an effort to update the transit organization’s Transit System Plan to 2040, taking into account new and projected additions to light rail and other transit projects.
It looks like a step in the right direction, though it is a process that will be intriguing to watch. The public process in this kind of planning is necessary to build trust, but it can also force false compromises that hinder real progress. For one, as convoluted as the bus routes are today, the people who use them day-in and day-out will likely be resistant to drastic change and the way it could impact their commute. There are also needs of father flung areas of the bus system that don’t match those of the inner city core, so it will be interesting to see how these things are balanced. And creating some designated bus lanes, new stop designs, and better way finding architecture needs to be included in the conversation from the start. Those are the improvements that will cost money, so the idea of an investment – and not just a system route reshuffling – needs to be on the table early.