DART bursts public transportation balloon
POSTEDApril 4, 2004
Gone are the days when we could count on a big yellow DART bus trundling down Rutford Drive.
During a March 23 DART board meeting, the final axe fell on route 358.
Due to low ridership, instead of modifying the route or asking students where they’d like to go, DART simply stopped Route 358 – the smaller buses that run up Rutford Drive between ECS and the conference center.
And then there was one – route 562, which has been stretched to connect Arapaho Light Rail Station and Addison Transit Center via UTD.
Somehow, other universities have no trouble keeping the buses. SMU with only 10,955 students has managed to broker a deal with DART for a customized campus route. The university pays half the operating costs.
The Mercury Editorial Board doesn’t believe that, in UTD’s case, one publicly funded entity should have to bribe another to work together.
UTD has two populations of potential DART riders – Waterview dwellers trying to get out and commuters trying to get in. Both of these groups should hammer DART’s door for routes that serve them, and SGA should help.
SGA President Ryan Davidson has tried in vain to get student discounts for bus tickets, but that effort has been misdirected.
SGA must put more effort into putting the buses in front of the students and making them go where the students want. The fare isn’t the issue. It’s where the buses go.
Public transportation should serve the public and, in particular, public universities. Eighty percent of DART’s revenue comes from our sales taxes. While we concede that those funds should be used effectively, it is unlikely that cutting service to a university full of potential riders will help.
Amidst the car-crazy Dallas suburbs, UTD is teeming with students living away from home – many from abroad – who don’t have access to a car and rely on DART.
After the stretch, route 562 will now run hourly, so a trip to snag some milk could take two hours!
The undeniably poor performance numbers shouldn’t be cause to axe the bus route. Instead, DART should re-evaluate when the buses come and where they go, without forgetting the cost. With a dash of one and a pinch of the other, DART must be able to cook up the right mix of service to keep us in the buses and our cars off the road.
It should be a no-brainer to keep public transportation at a public university.
DART’s current route system is a hit and miss proposition. Somehow the mass of students living at or commuting to UTD aren’t getting on the bus, and regardless of whether the blame lies with SGA or DART itself, something has to be done to bring back those big yellow buses.