This is an ongoing series that will keep you informed about the goings-on in the transit industry. Hopefully, it will provide little perspective on the larger environment in which DART operates.
This just in: Relief on the way, the challenges of enforcing mask mandates and, right here in Dallas, the ongoing conversation about DART’s D2 alignment. Read on to catch up on the news from transit-land.
That’s a relief
The biggest news for the transit industry this past week is also the biggest news for many Americans: On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package dubbed the American Rescue Plan. (As we reported the previous week, $30.5 billion will be set aside to help transit agencies recover from the shortfalls associated with the COVID crisis.) According to Reuters, “the bill is popular with the public. A Reuters/Ipsos national opinion poll, conducted March 8-9, showed that 70% of Americans support the plan, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans.”
Get on board with masking up
The nonprofit, independent news organization, The Conversation, outlines in a recent article the difficulties some transit agencies are having in getting riders to comply with mask requirements. The article points out that “public transit drivers are now responsible for preventing unmasked passengers from boarding, monitoring passengers for compliance and removing unruly customers. These responsibilities create hurdles for public transit drivers, particularly when public transit systems prefer customer-friendly approaches instead of civil or criminal penalties to increase compliance.” Note that on the DART System, masks will be required until further notice. Help us help North Texas get through what is hopefully the final stretch of the pandemic.
Rural agencies are a shot in the arm
The Wall Street Journal reports that many rural transit agencies have risen to the challenge of providing residents access to the COVID vaccine. Takeaway: “Rural transit agencies are providing more than rides. They are the crucial link to long-awaited protection from the deadly coronavirus. […] Since the vaccine rollout began, a growing number have started offering free rides, changing bus routes, hosting vaccination sites or organizing clinics on wheels to take vaccines to people.”
D2 line sparks conversations
A little – well, a lot – closer to home, NBC tells of the ongoing negotiations to finalize the proposed corridor for DART’s D2. The project would put a second light-rail alignment, running mostly underground, through downtown Dallas. In a nutshell: “Dallas Area Rapid Transit is asking the Dallas City Council to endorse a preferred route on March 24 in order to remain in the running for $800 million in necessary federal funding for the project.” The article details some of the challenges that have arisen concerning the alignment’s eastern portal, near the current Deep Ellum Station.