It appears, that Texas of all places is pulling significantly ahead of Portland, Seattle, and many other cities on miles of light rail. At least according to their long range plans. From the DART site;
“DART's current long-range Transit System Plan, adopted in 1995, includes the ongoing doubling of the DART Rail System to serve Pleasant Grove, Fair Park, Northwest Dallas, Love Field, Farmers Branch, Carrollton, Irving and DFW International Airport. Working from the 1995 plan, DART has built a multimodal transportation network providing more than 300,000 trips each weekday. Components of the network include:
- A fleet of more than 700 ultra-low emission buses, serving 120 routes in 13 cities
- 45 miles of light rail with 48 more miles scheduled to open by 2013
- 35 miles of Trinity Railway Express commuter rail connecting Dallas and Fort Worth
- 31 miles of high occupancy vehicle lanes in four corridors
- Paratransit curb-to-curb van service for customers with disabilities
The North Texas region is on pace to double in population – to approximately 8 million – by 2030 and the impact of that growth will be significant.
- Jobs will grow from 3 to 4.9 million.
- Traffic congestion will slow average freeway speeds from 43 mph to 27 mph.
- Time lost in traffic delays will increase from 1 million to 5.1 million hours annually.”
“The 2030 Plan builds on the success of today's system and ongoing expansion and updates the draft system plan. Key elements include:
- Approximately 43 miles of additional rail service, including:
- A 2.9-mile extension of the Blue Line to UNT-Dallas
- A nearly 26-mile express rail line in the east-west Cotton Belt corridor from the Red Line to DFW International Airport. The Board resolution approving the plan also helps define system characteristics for the corridor with regard to rail technology, noise, vibration and emissions.
- A Lake Highlands Station on the existing Blue Line
- A 4.3-mile light rail branch off the forthcoming Green Line along Scyene Road to approximately Masters Drive
- A 4.3-mile light rail extension of the Red Line south to Red Bird Lane
- A 6-mile rail line in West Dallas along Fort Worth Avenue or Singleton to Loop 12/Jefferson Boulevard
- A comprehensive network of enhanced and rapid bus corridors consisting of:
- 77 miles of enhanced bus service corridors
- 20 miles of rapid bus service corridors
- Strengthened and new express bus service
- A total of 116 miles of permanent managed HOV lanes – six more than the 1995 plan
- A continued high level of Paratransit service, while improving cost-effectiveness through targeted technological and operational changes and transitioning customers to fixed-route where feasible
- Strengthening of key systemwide mobility programs to support improved operations and system efficiencies, enhanced customer information, access and comfort, strengthened safety and security, and increased transit ridership”
With all this it really makes me wonder about Portland. While we funnel money and efforts toward things like the Streetcar and WES we’re continually losing out on efforts being spent toward LRT, BRT, increased bus service, or even what is very important now, more sustainable operating funds. What is Portland doing? What is TriMet doing?
In my 2 cents TriMet is smartly moving forward on the Milwaukee Light Rail Line, this will incur a massive ridership. However TriMet is significantly ignoring service needs in the all vital downtown areas of the inner east side. Between the east side waterfront and 60th, where the highest density of ridership occurs, the bus service is often off schedule, limping along, with meager 40ft buses when larger ones are needed and no hope for relief as there are no future plans for these routes.
The Milwaukee Plan is great, but Portland & TriMet seriously need to focus on some additional higher demand areas where density is increasing but service supply is not increasing to meet demand. More on that later…
…for now, give DART’s website a view and check out what they’re doing. Strangely enough, there is a lot ole’ Portland could learn from Houston these days.