Why the DART doesn’t go where I want to go, What you can do about it, and the story of the extensive mass transit system Dallas used to have.

Why doesn’t the DART go to places I want to go? – Hipster at the FOE, a nondescript pool

DART Legos

Note:  Not an actual DART Train

I assume he’s talking about the trains, because DART’s bus network is pretty extensive and could take him most everywhere in the DART service area, but that’s a different point.

DART Parade Bus

No, not this bus you hipster

As far as the trains go, (light rail, trolley, and commuter) it actually turns out we used to have a really great mass transit system in Dallas based around the trains and trolleys.  Most cities did.  But unlike New York, London, or Chicago; Dallas tore apart its mass transit system starting in the 1940’s and had pretty much eliminated it by the 1960’s.  So without that bases of a system, when Dallas started redeveloping a mass transit system in the 1980’s, it had to start from scratch, well almost scratch.

hopabus3

Mass transit in Dallas in the early 80’s before DART consisted of these “Hop-A-Bus” bunny like buses, no I’m not kidding

I mean think if we had torn down all the highways in the 60’s and just started to rebuild them in the 80’s.  It’d take years and hundreds of billions to build them all back, but I’m getting away from the question of why DART doesn’t go where you want to.

In Dallas years ago, mainly around the 20’s and the 30’s, there was a mass transit network that could have taken that hipster to pretty much anywhere he wanted to go.   The system was comprised of streetcars and so called Interurban rail lines.

Street-Cars

all_aboard_trolley_postcard

Not Street Cars

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Street cars were for getting around in the city.  If you just got off your shift at the Dr. Pepper Plant at Mockingbird and Greenville and wanted to stop by a dance hall down onLowest Greenville (Greenville and Ross), it was a thirty minute walk or a 5 minute street car ride.  The Interurban Lines on ther other hand where for getting between different cities.  Say if you lived in McKinney and wanted to visit family living in Dallas, you could take the Interurban in to a Dallas stop and have your family meet you there.

And by the 1930’s Dallas had hundreds of miles of those street car lines including ones down Main, Commerce, Ervay , Gaston, Ross, many more streets.  There was even lines headed over the Trinity to Oak Cliff (which had over twenty miles of street car lines itself.)  The street car network provided ample ability to pretty much to get around anywhere in the urbanized part of Dallas County without a car.

txu-oclc-6445490-electric_railway-dallas-1913

Early Street Car map of Dallas and Oak Cliff

The Interurban would have taken you around the area to smaller farming communities or early suburbs.  Like the Interurban that ran north to Highland Park, then to Preston Hallow, or the one that ran through Richardson, Plano, McKinney along a route that would be mimicked by Highway 5 slightly to west.  It was in fact the largest Interurban system in the nation with more then 200 miles of track.

ruffin-03

Dallas Interurban Map showing the stops

So what happened?  Well, cars got cheaper, and then the government began to heavily subsidize the construction of roads, highways, or other auto-centric projects.  The mass transit systems in Dallas, the street cars and interurban, were private companies, which meant that with cars being cheaper and government funding auto travel, they couldn’t compete and closed.  The interurban closed down after WWII when the Interstates and Highways became popular, and the streetcars went away in the 60’s when Goss on Ross would give you a car for $50 down.

Goss on Ross

“SE HABLE ESP”  Spanish for “My sign guy doesn’t know Spanish”

So in the early 80’s when DART was started, it had no base system to build off of, and it will take a while to build that system back up.  Perfect example, in New York, the same subway lines have been operating for over a 100 years.  In Dallas there was a street car line that ran across the Trinity connecting Downtown Dallas and North Oak Cliff as early as 1887.  That line was shut down more then half a century ago, and it’s taken DART (and others) more then thirty years to re-open that line.  That’s one street car line.  It’s gonna take time.

dal-lrt-rpr-map-current-future-rail2007sep_DART

Thirty years to get here

So that’s it, the reason why DART can’t take you from Louie’s on Henderson to Chicken Scratch in Bishop Arts.  DART has had to rebuild a century of mass transit, and it doesn’t happen over night.  But If you’re really that upset by it, do what they did in Oak Cliff.  That re-opened streetcar was not purposed by DART, the City or the County.  No, instead four guys wrote a proposal themselves to Federal Government asking for funding for the project.  They got tens of millions a few short years ago for the project.  Since then DART and City have since taken the project and run with it.  Contact Them here if you’re interested…

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2 thoughts on “Why the DART doesn’t go where I want to go, What you can do about it, and the story of the extensive mass transit system Dallas used to have.

  1. Error: Interurban did not follow the present Dallas North Tollway – it followed Highway 5 (Greenville Avenue). The DNT doesn’t approach Richardson or McKinney and the rail line stopped in the downtown areas of both cities. Simple research (or even looking at a map) will confirm.

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