Slow Going for Light Rail in Dallas
The city of Dallas remains committed to expanding light rail transit despite discouraging ridership numbers, says Freemark. Between 2000 and 2010, the overall number of Dallas's public transit users actually declined, and only 60,000 people ride the light rail each day--a small fraction of the city's 1.3 million residents.
The problem, says Freemark, is a lack of coordination with other planning and policy areas. Although Dallas' light rail network is expansive, downtown parking policies do little to discourage driving. Freemark also argues the city currently lacks the density to support a more robust light rail network, a problem that might be solved by encouraging transit-oriented development.
"Dallas and all of the cities being served by light rail must make a more serious effort to attract new growth into the transit zones around stations. If people are going to be living in apartments anyway, have them do so in mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods within easy distance of light rail stops. If this means using eminent domain to spur private redevelopment, then so be it: Something significant must be done to encourage increased use of the transit network."