Local Government

A Few Simple Questions for the Head of DART

Riddle me this, Gary Thomas.

All DART trains have to run along a single stretch of line through downtown.

DART president and executive director Gary Thomas is scheduled to brief the City Council on D2 and the Cotton Belt line at 1 p.m. today. Billions of dollars and the future of the city are at stake. Here are just a few questions I have for Gary Thomas and the Council:

Has DART prepared plans beginning in 1990 for funding a future subway as called for in the Master Interlocal Agreement (MIA)? What have been those plans? Annually? Have they been presented to the city? Has the city reviewed them? Has the city ensured DART has done this annually? What provisions since the MIA have they made in their annual financial plans for a subway? 

What funds for a subway have been set aside as called for in the MIA? Note: There should be provisions (hopefully increasing) for each subsequent year beginning with the first.

How is the ridership measured as called for in the MIA and what is the method for measuring the accuracy for such as applied to the Pacific/Bryan transit mall? Has DART presented these to the city? Has the city asked for them? Since there is no tracking of getting on/off (like BART’s and D.C.’s systems) how does DART even know? And how accurate are DART’s measurements?

What were the transit mall ridership numbers in 2010, the numbers projected in the 2010 DEIS once the Green and Orange lines were operational, and the current numbers? What were they from the beginning and subsequently? If DART was living up to its obligations, it would be tracking this.

What is the maximum practical ridership per train (2-car and 3-car) based on seating and on seated/standing passengers? Comment: Hopefully we can use these numbers, as well as those mentioned above, to calculate effectiveness of the system.

What is the method to measure and ensure that passengers are paying the required fare? Said differently, how accurate are the measurements of ridership given their measurement process? What factor needs to be applied to appropriately adjust? Note: They could sample the effectiveness of toll collection to make such a judgement.

What percentage of passengers is likely not paying the required fare, and what would the lost fare aggregate do to the system annually?

How are the current peak hour headways (a.m. and p.m.) determined and tabulated?

What operational factors control the scheduling of trains during peak hours on the transit mall? All large organizations have written policies and guidelines for operational activities. DART must have some that ensure it does not exceed the limits of the MIA. 

What were the transit mall headway time in 2010, the projected headway time in the 2010 DEIS once the Green and Orange lines were operational, and the current numbers?

During the a.m. and p.m. rush hours, what are the time intervals for each of the train lines? It’s probably best to collect for all times to have something to compare. 

What are the current impacts of cross street traffic on rail headway timing, delays, and vice versa? I wonder what agreements/definition exists between the city and DART on this. They both have operational responsibility. Who programs the traffic signals and how is this coordinated with the rest of the signals in the city? Both have to coordinate on this, otherwise it fails. Intuition tells me that the interdependencies will be more complex. Has the city even thought about that?

What were the projected and actual capital costs for the transit mall including but not limited to construction, rights-of-way, relocations of all types including utilities, street and pedestrian reconstructions, payments to business and property owners, and street scape improvements? Comment: Can’t wait for this one!

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