DART considers plan to put unridden downtown Dallas bus out of its misery
Dallas Area Rapid Transit is working on a plan to replace a downtown Dallas bus service with something new, or maybe nothing at all.
The bus line in question is DART Bus Route 722, also known as D-Link, the brightly colorful bus that circles through downtown and gives rides for free.
"Free" is usually a sure thing and yet, despite the free part, the ridership is low. Low to none. The bus is colorful and friendly as it zips through downtown, light on its feet, thanks to being unfettered by the weighty burden of passengers.
The ridership is so low that DART is contemplating eliminating the line altogether.
Alternatives under discussion include:
- Eliminating the service altogether, due to low ridership
- Offering an on‐demand service
- Replacing it with a Transportation Network Company (TNC) subsidy program without DART participation
The D-Link line launched in November 2013 as a free bus service, funded by the City of Dallas, Downtown Dallas Inc. (DDI), and DART, to promote convention business, new Omni Hotel, and other downtown activity.
In November 2017, the City of Dallas, DART and DDI extended the contract for one additional year with the objectives to increase ridership and reduce costs.
By August 2018, stakeholders determined that D‐Link had not met the ridership goals (283 vs 450 per weekday) to justify continued funding. At that point, they requested that DART seek public comment on replacing D‐Link with an on‐demand service that would require a $1 fare.
In November 2018, a City of Dallas committee approved a four‐month extension of the service until an on‐demand shared ride zone or new non‐DART app‐based taxi service subsidy program could be implemented.
Were they to switch to an on-demand system, it would be expected to observe the following objectives:
- An average wait time of 10 minutes
- An average trip duration of 6 minutes
- A proposed $1 fare, which seems super-cheap
It would be a mobile-phone app-based service, and the target goal would be 450 riders a day.
It would be available from 10:30 am to 9:30 pm, seven days a week.
An alternative option would be for the City of Dallas and other partners to subsidize a hailed‐ride zone. But this would be dependent on participation of third-party support and private sector companies.
DART is hosting a community meeting on January 15 at 12 noon to gather public input, and then a public hearing on January 22 at 6:30 pm.
Both events will be held in the DART Headquarters Board Room, 1401 Pacific Ave.
Those who wish to attend or speak at the hearing should contact DART Community Engagement at 214-749-2543 to register. In addition, written comments received by noon the day of the hearing will become part of the official record. Written comments may be submitted on the date of the hearing or mailed in advance to:
DART Community Engagement
P.O. Box 660163
Dallas, TX 75266-7322