This editorial appeared at Dallas News dot com.
I've extracted choice passages and inserted a few choice comments.
Editorial: Keep DART rail strong
06:14 PM CDT on Wednesday, March 31, 2010Communities served by Dallas Area Rapid Transit have been warned about "profound" changes ahead because of DART's deteriorating finances, but they should stand fast to protect the region's rail-transit network from the knife. Are you suggesting we spend money we don't have ?
Our metro area can't afford to look and feel like Southern California (read about San Jose light rail), and a robust, dependable rail network is a hedge against that outcome. DART Rail is not robust. It has 'deteriorating finances'.
The value of a healthy bus system mustn't be discounted, but bus routes don't have the permanence of rail service. That is a feature. Buses are not stuck to the rail lines.
Rail transit, if properly developed, attracts investment for dense development nearby then it's obvious that DART is not properly developed and slows down unsustainable ?? sprawl into rural areas. Would you prefer a wall around the city ?
More communities are getting ready for Green Line and Orange Line service in coming months, so DART's level of service should not turn out to be a disappointment to them.
Are you suggesting subsidies ? From which less important services should we pull the money ?
As well, planning should progress on DART's second downtown line and the final Orange Line link, to D/FW International Airport. This might be a good idea - One DART line that travels between Dallas and Fort Worth via DFW Airport. I'm guessing that a lot of the airport automobile traffic would be eliminated as flight passengers used DART to travel to the airport. Wait, there is that luggage thing. Damn.
It's clear that DART will have to tighten its belt to the point that bus riders will feel the squeeze. DART's not exactly the Love Boat. Cost-cutting shouldn't strand large numbers of them without a way to get to work, however. Didn't you suggest earlier that services not be cut ?
The tougher, longer-range challenge for DART will be adjusting to a new fiscal reality, after a decade's worth of disappointing revenue from the sales tax – which funds nearly all operations – and falling per capita consumption. Exactly the point. If DART cannot sustain itself, it isn't necessary.
Every member city has a stake in rethinking DART's core mission, and they need to speak up as the agency lays out budget-cutting options this spring. It will be the most important debate in years over DART's future. Here's an idea - LET'S SEPARATE DART RAIL FROM DART BUS. Bad Idea ?? I suppose so because both of these boondoggles are money holes.
Posted by EastDallasDave | 34 minutes ago
Two words that could go a long way toward fixing the light rail program are ‘External Audit.’ Compare money collected to money spent. Ask who is getting promoted and why. Find out the criteria used to determine why any given contractor was hired.