Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) rail service is marking a notable milestone, with 20 years in since its debut on June 14, 1996. It launched that year with an 11-mile network of Red and Blue lines that extended from Pearl Station in the north, through downtown Dallas to 8th and Corinth Station where the two lines separated. The Blue Line continued mostly due south to Illinois Station and the Red Line went south and southwest to Westmoreland Station, all within the Dallas city limits. Today, DART Rail is 90 miles long and has 62 stations in eight cities.
DART is still growing. In late October, the southernmost section of the Blue Line will be extended three miles, adding greater connectivity in the education corridor, from an updated Ledbetter Station to the new UNT Dallas Station — and a Camp Wisdom Station in between. Separately, DART planners are still developing a second rail alignment through Downtown Dallas that is scheduled to open in 2021.
The still-growing rail network "is changing the way the region grows and how North Texans live," DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas said. "DART Rail is delivering new development in every community we serve. Dallas is enjoying a renewed downtown, new destinations, and better access to healthcare. Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Garland, Irving, Plano, Richardson and Rowlett each have new, vibrant transit-oriented communities that are gaining national attention," he added.
More than one anniversary
The Trinity Railway Express commuter rail line, jointly owned by DART and the Fort Worth T, also marks 20 years of operation in 2016. The first 10 miles of the 35-mile line debuted on Dec. 30, 1996, running from Union Station to what is now Downtown Irving/Heritage Crossing Station.
The two anniversaries will bookend a six-month customer celebration highlighting the improvements brought to the region by the two rail networks. On the 20th of each month, until December, customers will be invited to join in the celebration. Complimentary one-day local passes will be up for grabs during a GoPass promotion that will run from June to December. "Street Teams" will be out on the system during the celebratory period. Customers spotted wearing a yellow or red T-shirt on the 20th of each month just might receive a promotional give-away. Customers also are encouraged to share their "DARTable" moments on social media.