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Thread: Texoma area and DART

  1. #1
    Sea™ CTroyMathis's Avatar
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    Jan 2001

    Texoma area and DART

    Long distance commuters denied by DART

    By TONY HARTZEL / The Dallas Morning News

    PLANO – The allure of light-rail commuting has attracted the attention of people as far away as Sherman, 40 miles north of DART's newest rail station.

    When trains started running last week, some of those potential riders were turned away. Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the city of Plano have temporarily denied requests from the Texoma Area Paratransit System to pick up and drop off its passengers at the Parker Road rail station.

    The outlying bus riders could stress an already crowded train system, DART officials said. In the first week of train service to Plano, the 76 seats per car on peak-hour trains have filled up before the rail cars reach Richardson.

    In coming months, the transit agency will decide how or whether the Texoma Express and buses from other agencies should be allowed to tie into DART. A primary concern, they say, is the needs of area residents who have subsidized the construction of the rail system for 20 years with a 1 percent sales tax.

    "It's a regional issue that needs to be addressed," DART board chairman Robert Pope said. "I'm not sure I want someone discharging a busload of people who aren't from member cities taking up seats when their cities aren't helping pay for it."

    The Texoma agency has said that it will stay away. If eventually allowed, Texoma officials told DART, the system would run six round trips each weekday that would carry 60 to 75 riders a day.

    Those figures are on the low end, according to Sherman City Council member Terrence Steele. Many residents choose to endure 60- to 70-mile commutes because of the low cost of living north of Dallas-Fort Worth, he said.

    "The majority of our residents who travel that way are beginning to get on DART," he said. "And we have a lot of people who commute from Sherman."

    Officials with the Texoma Express have declined interview requests. In a news release last week, executive director Ven Hammonds said the shuttle bus service had been planned for several months and would help reduce highway congestion and smog.

    The Texoma agency will "continue to plan the service using Dallas area destinations other than DART facilities, such as major employment centers," according to the news release.

    DART's new policy must weigh many factors, including easing highway congestion and reducing demand on the Parker Road station parking lot. It also must consider the impact of riders from outlying areas, which could force DART to buy more $3 million rail cars or run trains more often.

    If the estimated 75 Grayson County riders bought monthly passes at the upcoming $40 rate, DART would get $36,000 a year in fare revenue. Fare collections represent 10 percent to 15 percent of DART's total revenues needed to run the system, with the bulk coming from sales tax receipts in the agency's 13 member cities.

    Cost-sharing agreement

    A precedent is in place for cost-sharing with nontransit cities. DART and The T, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, have an agreement with nine cities along the Trinity Railway Express commuter rail line that requires them to pay $775,000 a year to help defray operating costs.
    A recent survey showed that about 20 percent of commuter train riders came from those nine cities. Before trains arrived in East Plano, about 40 percent of cars in the DART bus station parking lot were registered to owners with addresses outside the DART area.

    Depending on legal opinions, the issue of cooperation may be moot. DART board members have asked their attorneys to determine whether the agency can prohibit other bus companies from using their property, which is open to the public.

    In the interim, the city of Plano has told the Texoma agency that bus loading and unloading is not allowed on streets near the station.

    "This is just the first one," Mr. Pope said of the Texoma agency's interest. "There are four to five other agencies to the north ready to do the same thing."

    Those include a fledgling Denton County transit agency that could tie into a future Carrollton rail line, a Hunt County agency that would connect to the Downtown Garland station, and a proposed McKinney park-and-ride system that would tie into the Parker Road station.

    "We'll be watching the issue," said Charles Emery, executive committee chairman of the Denton County Transportation Authority, which was created with voter approval in November.

    The agency will not make any requests of DART because "those are some of the issues we wouldn't want to get ahead of ourselves on," Mr. Emery said.

    DART could reap benefits by welcoming outlying residents to the system, said Mr. Steele, the Sherman council member. His city's residents, while working in the Dallas area, also spend money and generate sales tax revenue for DART while in town.

    "If people can get to places they enjoy going to, they're going to spend money," he said.

    DART's growing popularity – even outside its 13 member cities – has led to discussions about how to get more cities to join mass-transit agencies.

    Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and her Fort Worth counterpart, Kenneth Barr, have held discussions recently on the need for a single transit agency. They also have talked about the need for a change in state law to give cities more options for joining DART or another transit agency.

    "This is one of the better arguments for why we need a totally regional system," Mr. Pope said.

  2. #2
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    I am not real sure that denying people the opportunity to ride DART is a good idea, especially when they are hurting from falling sales tax revenue and need to increase ridership! I feel they should work to get some kind of agreement with those folks up north.....and then add a couple more trains to service those areas.

  3. #3
    is gone.
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    Jul 2002
    I think they just need to put more trains out during rush hours. The last thing we need is DART enabling sprawl. Also, why should people go live up there, yet work down here? It isn't incredibly cheaper to live up there...

  4. #4
    Skyscraper Member
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    Jul 2002
    I agree taht DART should allow this, but it is very necessary for them to work out just how to go about it. Get too many people on the trains and people who live in DART-funding areas don't want to ide. It's a delicate balanace of getting the most people possible to ride and still keepign it an experience that suburban people can enjoy.

    I defintly agree that DART should just run longer trains more often, but, they are understandably relucatant to do so... loosing as much income as they have would be rather shocking to anyone. Granted it has nothing to do with not enough people riding the light rail (because that's defintly not hte case!), but they want to try and get things back on track before putting in more expenses, and I think that's a noble and intellegent way to behave in this situation.

  5. #5
    Mid-Rise Member
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    Dec 2002
    Richmond, VA
    DART approves bus access for Oklahoma commuters
    Riders coming from Grayson County can be dropped at rail station


    By TONY HARTZEL / The Dallas Morning News

    Buses ferrying commuters from near the Oklahoma state line soon will be dropping off dozens of passengers at DART's newest light-rail station in Collin County.

    The Dallas Area Rapid Transit's board of directors has approved a temporary access agreement allowing Texoma Area Paratransit Systems to use a bus parking space six times a day at the Parker Road station in East Plano.

    Texoma officials originally planned to begin service when the rail station opened in December. The potential for crowding led DART to order the Texoma agency to stay away until it developed a policy covering how to handle outlying transit agencies and their passengers.

    While light-rail trains do become crowded during peak hours, DART officials do not believe the Texoma buses will force them to add more rail cars or more frequent trains.

    "It should not impact our ridership," DART board chairman Robert Pope said.

    Service from Grayson County should begin March 31, and rides will be free in April, said Ven Hammonds, executive director of the Texoma agency. Passengers still must make reservations before they can use the service during the two morning runs and the two evening runs, he said.

    "The rail is a big attraction," Mr. Hammonds said. "But it's going to take experience and a lot of word of mouth to get a large number of people out of their pickups and SUVs and jump on the rail."

    DART expects about 75 people a day to use the service; Mr. Hammonds said that number may grow to about 100 to 120 within a few months. Commuters from Van Alstyne will pay $50 a month, and those who live farther away in Denison must pay $70 a month for the service.

    A large number of the Grayson County riders already drive to the rail station. In addition, many of them work at Raytheon and Texas Instruments and will not have to ride the trains all the way into downtown, Mr. Hammonds said.

    The approved agreement addresses only the Texoma issue. DART officials said they still must develop an umbrella policy for all agencies that want to drop off passengers at their stations. Those agencies include transit services in Hunt and Denton counties, as well as a possible McKinney-based commuter shuttle bus service.

    "It's still a regional issue that needs to be addressed," Mr. Pope said. "The intention is not to enter into an agreement with any other agency until we have a policy to address it."

    A January study of vehicles at the Parker Road station indicated that 46 percent of commuters there did not live in DART's 13-city area. Plano and Carrollton are the northernmost cities in the transit agency.

    According to recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2,434 Grayson County residents said that they worked in Dallas County in April 2000. An additional 3,937 Grayson County residents said they worked in Collin County, but 39,519 Grayson County residents also said they worked in their home county.

    Every morning, the highways heading south from Grayson County are filled with a growing number of Dallas-bound commuters, Mr. Hammond said.

    "It's going to continue to grow, and it's not going to slow down," he said.


  6. #6
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    I think this is a good thing. It displays the need for a cooperative regional transit authority that serves everyone. One step at a time.
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  7. #7
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    Atlanta - Dallas
    Heavy use of the Plano's Parker Station is good news for DART, showing the viability of suburban rail transit.

    Almost half of the riders entering the system at the terminus station are from non-member communities. This shows the need for futher northern expansion, and strongly indicates a need for financial support from the county level rather than the city level.

  8. #8
    Low-Rise Member downtownbum's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    where are these grayson county commuters going? downtown? that is like 80 miles one way! tell them to move somewhere closer than that. i bet it is not cheaper to live up there at all, once you figure in the cost in both $$ and time of a commute like that.
    the dude abides.

  9. #9
    Mid-Rise Member MustangMonkey's Avatar
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    Apr 2002
    LH Dallas
    They live up there so they can get away from the traffic

  10. #10
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    Trust me, it is not that uncommon. I work with several folks who live live on a lake/ranch 50-70 miles south of Dallas that endure the commuting. They do it because they are living in their "Dream House"....
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  11. #11
    Supertall Skyscraper Member psukhu's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    Frisco, TX
    I know many people who bought houses way up north during the tech boom because they worked in Collin County. They lost their jobs and are now forced to take jobs in Dallas.

    DART shouldn't care where people are from. They should just adjust the trains (size, schedule, etc) to handle the demand. This issue will happen all the way around the city as the other lines get extended out a little further.

    What will happen when DART rail goes to DFW and LUV? They'll be thousands of riders that are visitors.

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