DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas(left) with the agency's 250 millionth rail rider Don Johnson.
In conjunction with the annual American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Rail Conference
, Dallas Area Rapid Transit
(DART) honored its 250 millionth customer on its light rail system earlier this week.
The daily DART Rail rider, Don Johnson, was greeted by DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas and Michael Melaniphy, president/CEO of APTA.
Johnson was randomly selected from Monday morning commuters by DART staff to represent all riders of the 72 mile, 55 station system throughout the past 16 years. DART Rail ridership is calculated on a variety of factors, including statistical sampling. As part of the recognition, DART will award the customer four monthly Regional passes good for use in July, along with tickets to popular destinations such as the Dallas Zoo, Children's Aquarium at Fair Park, Hawaiian Falls, Dallas Summer Musicals, and the Museum of Nature & Science.
"This is a great day and a neat milestone for us," Thomas said. "But, I'm also thinking about the individual trips and special moments that preceded this one. School kids made their first trips to the zoo, or a Mavericks' or Stars' game on DART. People have met, gone on first dates and found their spouses on DART. Our customers plan special outings around our service. We've really become woven into the fabric of the region and that's what's exciting to me."
DART also is offering a special way for all light rail customers to share their transit moments. Customers may post pictures of good times and great trips they've made on DART Rail via Twitter, by adding the hashtag #DART250. The photos also will be posted to a section of the agency's Facebook page.
DART began light rail operations on June 14, 1996, opening the first 11 miles of its 20-mile Light Rail Starter System. Through the years, the agency has expanded to operate the longest electric light rail system in the U.S.
The system is still growing. A five-mile section of the Orange Line, from Bachman Station in northwest Dallas to Irving, opens July 30. A second section of the line, as well as a five-mile extension of the Blue Line from Garland to Rowlett, will open Dec. 2, 2013. DART will have 90 miles in operation when it completes the Orange Line in December 2014 with a station at Terminal A of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.