January 18, 2010
Employment positions in this issue's classifieds include an Executive Director; an Executive Director, Operations; and a Chief Operations Officer!
For DART, 2010 Means New Destinations and Opportunities
BY GARY C. THOMAS, President/Executive Director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Dallas, TX, and APTA Vice Chair-Rail Transit
A new year means new opportunities for ridership and job creation.
Each day, our industry is connecting tens of millions of our customers to their jobs and opportunities for education and entertainment. At the same time, many public transit agencies are creating new jobs as they add to the infrastructure of the cities they serve with new facilities.
In the case of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), our 45-mile Green, Orange, and Blue Line DART Rail expansion is projected to generate more than $4 billion in economic activity between 2009 and 2014.
We also know the expansion will create 32,095 job-years of employment, or an average of 6,400 jobs each year for the next five years. Separately, our ongoing operations will generate $663 million in annual economic activity and more than 5,300 jobs.
Other transit agencies have similar stories to tell. Across the country, each of our projects will create new connections and new destinations, as well as additional ridership for years to come.
DART Rail Doubling; 25 Miles to Open This Year
DART Rail will double its coverage area in stages, reaching 90 miles by 2013. The heart of the project is the 20-station Green Line, the longest light rail project under construction in North America.
The first section of the Green Line, which opened in September 2009, is three miles long and connects downtown Dallas to key employment and entertainment destinations southeast of downtown.
The remaining 25 miles of the Green Line, scheduled to open in December 2010, continues southeast to large residential areas and northwest from downtown Dallas to major employment centers such as the Dallas Market Center, Southwestern Medical District, Love Field Airport, and the cities of Farmers Branch and Carrollton.
The Green Line will create a connection between Dallas’ southeast neighborhoods, where residents are expected to outnumber local jobs three-to-one by 2025, to the northwest section of the region, a robust employment center with thousands of jobs in technology, transportation, health care, education, and services.
Construction is also underway on the first nine miles of a new Orange Line that will branch from the Green Line in northwest Dallas to serve the city of Irving in 2011. The line will be extended to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport by 2013.
DART also is building a five-mile extension of the Blue Line in the northeast part of the service area, which will connect the cities of Garland and Rowlett when it enters service in 2012. Separately, planning continues on a second light rail alignment through downtown Dallas, scheduled to open in 2014.
Funding is the Key
But for all the growing demand and aggressive planning, none of these projects in our area, or similar projects around the nation, will happen without adequate funding.
DART is fortunate because we have long enjoyed strong federal support. The Green Line has benefitted from a $700 million Full Funding Grant Agreement and the Orange Line has already received $61.2 million in federal stimulus funds.
But more is planned, and even more needs to be done to respond to growing local requests. We’ll have to have new sources of funds to do that. Again, federal funds will be critical.
Our opportunities are unlimited, but funding is not. How we balance them in 2010 will determine the stories we tell in 2011 and beyond.