The McKinney Avenue Trolley system had a shutdown on November 9 after one of its trolleys went off the rails. McKinney Avenue Transit Authority posted a note of regret on its Facebook page announcing that, due to a problem on the line, the service would be out for the remainder of Sunday evening.
According to MATA business director Nancy Bannister, it was Matilda 369, the biggest trolley in MATA's fleet, that got derailed. "It was corrected quickly," she says.
Elmer Tindell, MATA's operations director, said that something got caught in the tracks.
"The car derailed at CityPlace and McKinney," he says. "Something got into the switch that caused the switch not to be able to swing back. It was a rock or some kind of foreign object.
"There's a lot of construction in that area right around there. If something gets lodged in one of those switches, it can send the trolley off track, and the operator doesn't know until it's already off."
The bigger issue on the trolley's routes are cars. "We do have quite a few accidents downtown, and 95 percent are not the trolley driver's fault," he says. "We can't just swing on and off the track."
Dallas city manager A.C. Gonzalez is newly converted to the benefits of trolleys: Initially resistant, he's advancing an ambitious plan to build a trolley network that would cover downtown and its periphery.
For MATA, their mission is to get better signs. "We're working with the City of Dallas to get the signage redone and help prevent accidents," Tindell says.
The downtown extension of MATA, forming a loop on Olive Street and circling back on St. Paul, is scheduled for completion by the end of December. The latest forecast for full operation is March 1, says Dallas assistant public works director Keith Manoy.
"It's safe to say by March," he says. "Construction should be finished by the end of December, but then they'll have to do testing of the system along with testing of the cars. That'll probably take a month or so.
"For sure by the beginning of March we should be running through downtown."