DART gets New Year off on wrong track

Posted on 03 Jan 2011 at 11:39am
Hampton Station

An angry busload of passengers got off at Hampton Station at 8:09 this morning. The bus was a minute or two late. The train was a minute early. As the bus was pulling in, the Red Line train pulled away.

A rider from the bus saw the press pass dangling from my backpack and said: “We can complain. You can write about it.”

So here it is.

The bus from the Red Bird Transit Station to Hampton Station runs up Hampton Road and unloads all passengers to take the Red Line to downtown and points north. Some students take the train just one stop to Tyler Station and then walk to school.

The point is that everyone on the 7:55 bus from Red Bird is connecting with the 8:12 train to Parker Road.

DART’s excuse, of course, is that the train needs to stick to its schedule.

Right. If the bus is nowhere in sight, the train should leave. But if the bus is pulling in, the train should wait — just as the 8:26 Red Line train waits at Akard Station for the Green Line coming from Buckner Station that arrives on the opposite track so that passengers can transfer to the line that runs up Central Expressway. At least a dozen passengers got on our car from that train. That’s smart scheduling.

And a one-minute delay.

The same delay I would have expected had the 8:12 waited for our — now angry and late — busload.

If the train cannot wait, the 7:55 bus needs to become a 7:53 bus. Last Monday, the same bus arrived in the nick of time. As the bus was pulling into the station, so was the train. Connection made. If this miss or near-miss happens weekly, it needs to be fixed. I understand that this is a new schedule. Train service to Oak Cliff has been reduced.

DART says ALL service has been reduced, but while fewer rush hour trains run on the Red Line from Plano, Orange Line trains that run from Parker Road through downtown but then turn north along the Green Line, replaced that service. As always, Oak Cliff gets the short end.

One reason I ride DART is to relax and read for 30 minutes in the morning rather than fight traffic. If bus-to-train connections are going to be a nail-biter each day, I’ll see you in the spring, DART, when it’s warmer and I begin to ride my bike to the station again. In the meantime, I’ll drive.

And I’m sure the 20-minute late appearance in school by students relying on DART is considered unexcused tardiness by DISD.

Before forwarding this to DART on behalf of a busload of pissed and late commuters, I need to hear from other readers.

Are there other regular DART riders out there who have experienced the same thing? Things seem worse since the schedule change — not just the reduced number of trains, but missed connections. Is that true at other stations and transfer points as well?

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