Rambler Newspapers

Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

New Bus Network Increases DART Access

Irving—Until recently, many of Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART) bus routes had not changed since the 1980s and some routes had been in continuous operation since the 1940s. However, the population, workspaces, shopping centers and about everything else in the Metroplex has changed in the last 40 to 80 some years. 

DART undertook the huge task of reviewing all of their bus routes in an effort to make them more efficient and more relevant to riders. The result is DART’s New Bus Network, which launched on Friday, Jan. 14. 

“The whole goal and objective of what we’re doing is to make [public transportation] more efficient and effective and give you back your time, so you can do the things you need to do,” Mayor Rick Stopfer said.

Stopfer said instead of passengers waiting for 30 minutes to an hour for a bus, he anticipates wait times will be closer to 15 to 20 minutes.

“Having people be able to get to those central locations or those direct routes, that saves them time,” Stopfer said. “That is so important to people today, more important today than it’s ever been.”

Additionally, all DART routes extended their service hours. All routes within the 700 square mile service area will be in service seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 12 a.m. Some routes will also have service from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m., meaning DART service will be available for nearly 24 hours a day, every day.

Gordon Shattles, DART’s director of external relations, said the process of redesigning this bus system took about two years.

“[We worked] with all 13 of our service area cities as well as employers, community leaders and transit riders,” Shattles said. “Our goal is to design a system that ensures our passengers have easy access to employment, education and entertainment areas across North Texas.”

Shattles said a major priority is making DART services more accessible for more people. With the new system, 74 percent of residents in the service area will have access to DART services within walking distance, which is a 6 percent increase.

Riders can also get to a train or bus station more easily with GoLink. With this service, a DART vehicle can pick someone up, take them to a DART station and even take them home once their journey is complete. Shattles said this service can be used to take people not just to stations, but to other locations in the designated zone, such as grocery stores. The GoLink service is included with the purchase of a DART day pass.

“This is easily the biggest thing DART has done in many years,” Nicole Fontayne-Bárdowell, DART’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer, said. “We’re really looking forward to hearing the stories of our riders being able to get to their destinations [more easily and] with fewer transfers.”

Ambassadors from the company will be at the stations to get feedback from passengers.

DART consulted with the public via community meetings, surveys and Facebook Live events during the development of the New Bus Network.

“I think public transportation will always be very important,” Shattles said. “Our focus will always be on those riders who need DART [and] who do not have another way to transit between work, home [and] to see family and friends. That is the underlying push for all public transit. We want to make sure people get to where they need to go as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.”