- Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016

DALLAS (AP) - A Dallas public transit agency plans a dramatic overhaul of its bus service, but is taking a far different approach in implementing the changes than how public transportation officials in Houston did so last year.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit plans to adopt new routes and have buses run more frequently, particularly on weekends, but will roll out the changes in piecemeal fashion over a decade or more.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, by contrast, implemented sweeping changes overnight, The Dallas Morning News reported (https://bit.ly/25pIQO6 ).

Both agencies are trying to lure riders who may be reluctant to use public transit because of long waits between buses or inconvenient routes.

The layout of Houston routes changed in August from a hub-and-spoke network radially centered on downtown to a more grid-like system, which DART plans to replicate.

The METRO service greatly increased bus frequency during midday and on weekends, reversing a decrease in which bus ridership had dropped 20 percent since 2000. Agency staffers held public meetings and solicited input from thousands about what changes residents wanted. METRO told consultants to ignore current routes, fleet inventory and physical facilities in order to create something from scratch.

“Given the size of the overhaul they did, it’s pretty impressive,” said Kyle Shelton, a Houston resident whose work commute is now shorter.

Meanwhile, DART officials have begun using data and public feedback to design a new bus system. They’re in the process of introducing to the public their proposed overhaul, which includes giving large parts of Dallas more frequent weekday routes. Many of those are concentrated in parts of southern and eastern Dallas, and there will also be more crosstown coverage in the northern part of DART’s jurisdiction.

It’s the most comprehensive bus overhaul the agency has undertaken in years.

“DART has not done one in modern times,” Rob Smith, DART’s assistant vice president for planning and scheduling, said at a recent meeting.

He explained that DART’s longer rollout period is largely due to significant operational differences in the two agencies. Slightly more than half of DART’s passenger trips happen on buses, compared to more than four-fifths in the Houston area.


Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com

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