DART's new kiosks make it a little less frustrating to ride a bus

DART's new kiosks make it a little less frustrating to ride a bus

DART kiosk
Friendly kiosk is ready to tell you whether you missed the bus or not. Rendering courtesy of DART

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is working to solve one of the more frustrating problems about using public transportation in Dallas — namely, waiting for a bus and not knowing if it's on its way or if it's already come and gone.

The agency is rolling out free, public wi-fi as well as real-time bus arrival times via new digital kiosks being installed at 300 locations.

The first was installed February 20 at the JB Jackson Jr. Transit Center near Fair Park.

The kiosks display current bus arrival time, plus maps, points of interest, shops, and restaurants. The kiosks are also equipped with high-resolution cameras, increasing the video monitoring presence for the DART Police Department.

In addition, 5G LTE is being installed at each location.

DART is calling it the largest deployment of its kind by a public transit agency. The kiosks are installed in partnership with Smart City Media and Landmark Infrastructure Partners, who'll use it to sell advertising. DART will receive 35 percent of the advertising revenue, or at least $60,000 quarterly.

Landmark has prepaid $2.2 million in rent as part of the contract approved. DART will also receive $600 quarterly for every G cell tower installed.

Smart City Media has previously installed digital kiosks and public wi-fi in Memphis and in Kansas City, Missouri, and in 2017, New York Metro Transit Authority outfitted 277 rail stations with free wi-fi.

But DART spokesperson Mark Ball says that no other transit agency has deployed the connected system that Dallas has.

DART already offers free wi-fi on the Trinity Railway Express commuter train, which unfortunately is known for spotty service. The new wi-fi will be faster and more reliable.

For DART, the kiosks fit are part of its efforts to improve route and arrival information for riders, including the Go Pass app, which also provides arrival times and shows if a bus is running late or ahead of schedule. DART has also installed digital monitors displaying real-time arrivals at major bus centers.

Elsewhere in Dallas, public wi-fi is spreading. The AT&T Discovery District will include a free wireless network when it opens. Eventually, the D2 Downtown Tunnel will be 5G and wi-fi enabled. The Cotton Belt will also be connected.