Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the recently published Dallas Area Rapid Transit Year in Review for the 2013 fiscal year. Click here to see the entire publication.
DART is in a major transition. Rail construction and system expansion have been the agency's driving forces since its inception in 1983. The focus now shifts to sustaining ridership growth, improving service quality and creating resources that make taking transit easier.
Special events are a growing part of DART's operation. Light rail expansion has made many locations transit-accessible that once were remote, increasing attendance at North Texas' numerous festivals, conventions, sporting events and more.
The State Fair of Texas® and the Dallas St. Patrick's Day Parade on Greenville Avenue now rely heavily on DART and the Trinity Railway Express to transport attendees. In 2013, the region hosted MegaFest and the Red Bull Flugtag for the first time. Organizers chose their locations in part because of the robust public transportation available and involved the agency in their planning.
Catering to out-of-town visitors and occasion-based local riders, special event service presents a tremendous opportunity to increase ridership. Many customers are taking DART for the first time, and a positive experience often persuades them to continue riding and even begin commuting by transit.
Throughout the country, event organizers see the strength of Dallas-Fort Worth's transportation infrastructure. The region increasingly draws everything from national championships to national conventions. When the Orange Line connection to DFW Airport Station opens later in 2014, people can travel from the airport to hotels, events, restaurants and shopping without renting a car or finding a taxi.
Not surprisingly, special events generate much higher ridership than normal - often by thousands or tens of thousands. Such volume requires additional rail service, supplemental buses and many more staffers to assist customers.