Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport are making final preparations on the last segment of the Orange Line, which arrives at the new DFW Airport Station on Monday, Aug. 18. Soon, the country’s longest light rail system will connect to the country’s fourth-busiest airport, providing more transportation options for travelers from across North Texas and around the world.
DFW Airport built the station as part of its construction at Terminal A, the first of the legacy terminals to be renovated. According to DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas, the partnership will allow DART to open the rail expansion four months sooner than scheduled.
“We could not have achieved this rail opening early and under budget without the incredible partnership with DFW Airport,” Thomas said.
“Construction of the station and the Orange Line extension has been a true collaboration.
“We think this connection is so convenient for the traveling public that we will see a high volume of folks wanting to get off of the airplanes, get on the train and go wherever they need to go, because it takes them throughout North Texas. We expect to see a pretty high number of folks traveling to and from DFW on the train as well.”
The new DART station sits below ground level in an open air hollow. Passengers departing from the light rail will follow a short, beautifully landscaped and partially covered footpath to Terminal A. Once in the terminal, passengers can, go through security, check their bags and take Skylink to any other terminal at DFW to catch their flight.
“Before they scooped this out, there was nothing here,” Thomas said referring to the station’s location. “International Drive is immediately west of us, to the east is a frontage road. This was a spot of the space that worked perfectly in our plans.
“We looked at was it best come in from the south, was it best to come in from the north, was it best to come in directly underneath the runways? That was years ago. As we continue to work those plans, it made sense to come in from the north, and so we put the station here at Terminal A.”
The 5-mile segment links newly renovated Terminal A and Belt Line Station, with continuing service to major regional destinations including Irving-Las Colinas, Dallas Market Center and downtown Dallas. With this opening, DFW Airport becomes the third-largest American airport with a direct rail connection to the city center.
“It’s amazing that when you look at the world, this is something that is really expected we go to Asia or Europe.” Thomas said. “You get off the airplane, you get on to transit. It’s just what happens. In the United States we have been a little bit slow quite frankly to accept the public transit opportunities, and so as we see the major airports start to embrace that, you really understand what the benefit is. People can get off the plane, get on the train, get to downtown Dallas on a single seat ride. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s efficient.”
Creating Worldwide Connections
North Texas residents and visitors gain improved transit access to the airport and its growing roster of international and domestic destinations. Globe-trotting travelers have come to expect convenient public transportation to their destinations.
“Every renowned, world-class airport has rail service to the city center,” said Sean Donohue, CEO of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. “One of our key priorities is to continue to grow globally and add more international service, so to be able to provide that same access to our customers is fantastic.”
Regional leaders believe that light rail service from the airport to the rest of the DART Service Area will help attract everything from corporations to conferences. And for out-of-state and international students attending educational institutions like the University of Dallas, Southern Methodist University and The University of Texas at Dallas – all located along the Orange/Red Line – airport rail access will be a great benefit.
“I am proud of the collaboration we have with DART,” said Jim Crites, Executive Vice President of Operations at DFW Airport. “The regional partnerships whether it be with DART, the T, TxDOT or us is what makes something like this happen. I have worked in other areas of the United States and around the world, and you don’t see this kind of collaboration. This is a very complex project. Imagine bringing this train in the middle of an active airport, between two major roads; you have threaded a needle. That was done only through close collaboration.
“We are part of the DFW Metroplex. We are in competition with other cities around the United States and around the globe. What we see is a growing pie. Every day we see a growing demand, because people like what they see when they get here, because we are all working together to make great projects happen. As this Metroplex grows, there are many, many opportunities out there. I think that’s the game changer for our region versus any other area in the United States: we work together,” he said.
Offering a Better Commute
DFW Airport is one of the region’s major employment centers. The rail connection provides a convenient and cost-effective way to commute for the nearly 60,000 people who work there.
“Employees, as well as employers, really value this connectivity and it will make it possible for employers to grow their operations and their employee talent pool, and that’s a good thing for the airport,” Donohue said.
Providing Convenience and Value
Early morning and late night trains ensure passengers and employees can get to their flights, work or home. The first Orange Line train departing downtown Dallas arrives at DFW Airport Station at 3:50 a.m. The last train departs DFW Airport for downtown at 1:12 a.m. weekdays; 12:12 a.m. weekends.
Some information provided by Dallas Area Rapid Transit.