DART's miles and miles of rail supporting too many relatively empty trains.

Urbanism

City Journal Takes Note of Failures of DART

Billions spent to put a "drop in the bucket."

City Journal, a magazine about urban policy, recently published an issue focused on “Texas Rising” including an article on the development of the four big metro areas: San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Their writer is not impressed with the accomplishments of Dallas Area Rapid Transit:

Generous philanthropic communities are Texas’s secret weapon. Donations—including 134 separate donations of $1 million or more—provided almost all the performing-arts center’s financing and also helped pay for the new Klyde Warren Park, built on a deck over a freeway, and a signature bridge design by Santiago Calatrava. Like northern capitalists of the great industrial age, wealthy Texans are willing to spend big to put their hometowns on the map. High-quality urban amenities cost money, and a robust Texas private sector made these kinds of investments possible. But it was the philanthropic culture of the Texas money men that led them to put their cash to work to expand the area’s cultural offerings.

Not all the money has been well spent. Dallas built the longest light-rail system in the United States, at 90 miles, but the DART rail system carries only about 100,000 passengers per day, a drop in the bucket for the region. DART cost billions to build and requires about $75 million per year in subsidies to operate, and unlike the cost of the performing-arts center, these costs are financed by tax dollars.

I’m guessing he didn’t see that the city of Dallas is being asked to pony up many more tax dollars to keep the performing arts center going too. But, otherwise, hard to argue that the DART costs so far have been worth the benefits accrued.

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Comments

  • Hannibal_Lecter

    “…requires about $75 million per year in subsidies to operate…”

    Try over $600 million a year.

    Source: https://www.dart.org/ShareRoot/debtdocuments/FY2015ComprehensiveAnnualFinancialReport.pdf

  • dallasmay

    [But, otherwise, hard to argue that the DART costs so far have been worth the benefits accrued.]

    It’s too early to make any judgments on DART rail’s success or failure. DART rail is a multi-billion dollar multi-generational investment. The original Red and Blue lines haven’t even been fully operational for 20 years yet. Many or the original planners and engineers are still working in their fields. As far as civil infrastructure goes, DART rail is still a brand new system. Meanwhile, remember that DFW spent a full century building up it’s car dependency. It’s going to take a long time, several generations, for the member cities and citizens to adapt to the new infrastructure.

    My point is, it’s way too early to be critical.