Gary Thomas, president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), has been named Outstanding Public Transportation Manager of the Year by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

“I am honored to be recognized for doing what I love,” Thomas said. “DART is an integral part of the community, and it’s incredibly fulfilling to see how we are moving people — connecting them with education, healthcare and career development.”

Award recipients must have a proven track record for advancing the public transportation industry; demonstrate ability toward responsible, long-range planning; illustrate a disciplined-approach toward sustainable growth and expansion; and embrace innovative uses of technology, resources and collaboration to make public transit more accessible.

Thomas’ nearly 20-year tenure with DART has been marked by several signature moments, including:

  • The DART Rail system has doubled in length twice to 90 miles.
  • Capital projects, including the South Oak Cliff Blue Line Extension project (SOC-3), have consistently come in under budget and ahead of schedule. SOC-3 will open in October and will add an additional three miles of rail between Ledbetter Station and the new UNT Dallas Station.
  • The last Orange Line segment to the new DFW Airport Station opened in 2014, which connected the country’s longest light rail system to one of the world’s busiest airports.
  • DART’s bus fleet has been converted to compressed natural gas, which not only is more cost-effective, but is better for the environment too.
  • The electric streetcars returned to downtown Dallas in 2015. In late August, the streetcar was extended into the popular Bishop Arts District of Oak Cliff.

Although his accomplishments are many, Thomas said you always have to ask yourself, “What’s next?”

“People need to have transportation choices; therefore, we [DART] must continually seek opportunities to enhance connectivity and build an infrastructure that will support current and future riders for decades to come,” he says.

Thomas will be honored at a Sept. 13 award ceremony and luncheon in Los Angeles.

About the author