30 Years Later, Debate Still Rages Over Impact of America's Largest Light Rail System

30 years ago, voters in North Texas approved a sales tax to fund the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system based on promises of reducing congestion, spurring development and sustainable funding. Has the system met its goals? Depends who you ask.
Zac Bowling / flickr

"Automobile-loving North Texans took a radical step 30 years ago. That’s when voters in more than a dozen cities approved a 1 percent sales tax to fund Dallas Area Rapid Transit, now America’s largest light rail system," writes Tom Benning. "Tuesday’s anniversary of that hotly contested election is more than just a date on the calendar. The public transportation proposal pitched to voters in 1983 extended out almost three decades exactly: Service plans went to 2010, while the financial strategy stretched into 2013."

"The question, then, is simple: Has DART kept its early promises to those who voted to try something beyond a deeply rooted embrace of cars and seemingly endless highways?"

Take the congestion argument for example. Though 40,000 people ride the rail line every day, presumably taking many cars off the road, "Dallas-Fort Worth is still the 13th-most-congested urban area in America, according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute."

“Reducing congestion was probably the worst argument they could’ve made,” said Robert Bruegmann, an expert on urban sprawl at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “It’s an impossible thing to fulfill.”

Full Story: At 30, DART still faces growing pains

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