Across Dallas, changes to bus routes will impact daily routines
At 6:45 in the morning, sophomore Iris Hernandez leaves her house with her mom in order to get to school by 7:15 a.m.—her mom has to be at work by 8 a.m. After school, she walks every afternoon about a mile to get to the bus stop on Walnut Hill and Midway to get on the 4:28 bus to her mom’s office, where she arrives at around 4:45. During the short 15-minute ride, she listens to music, reads a book or looks at TikTok. Hernandez usually keeps to herself on the ride, but by regularly seeing routine bus riders, she learns more about different people’s lives. Hernandez sits in the same seat everyday.
The DART buses give people who aren’t as well off a way to get around without it being expensive. Hopefully, the new system will make public transportation even more accessible because it’s better for the environment.Iris Hernandez
But her routine will abruptly change on Jan. 24, 2022 when her bus stop will close.
In late Jan., many of the bus stops around school will stop functioning due to a Dallas Area Rapid Transit system overhaul announced on Sept. 1. Dallas has traditionally struggled with making its public transportation effective, thus motivating DART executives to rework the system. According to D Magazine, 42.5 percent of houses in Dallas are underserved by public transit. The new bus routes, according to DART, will more closely resemble a grid system and bring about greater frequency, expanded coverage, longer hours of service and the buses will provide more access to various jobs. The system rework will give 74 percent of people in the DART service area access to bus stops within walking distance—a six percent increase. Additionally, all local buses will be open from 5 a.m. to midnight and the 22 core buses will be in use for 19 hours: from 4 a.m. to 1 a.m.
However, DART’s attempt to improve their system results in inconvenient adjustments to many people’s daily routines. Hernandez, for one, will have to figure out how to get to her mom’s office after school with the changes to the bus system.
“Taking the bus is really helpful because I don’t have to stay at school till 5:30, which is really annoying when you have to do it everyday,” Hernandez said. “With the stops closing, I don’t know how the route will get me where I need to go or how long it will take.”
Hernandez currently takes Route 31 Midway/Bachman which will be replaced by Route 207 Lemmon, lengthening the walk to the bus stop from one mile to four miles. Despite the overall goal of making the bus routes more efficient, on an individual level, these changes bring negative effects. Additionally, Preston Hollow is being grouped into a GoLink zone where an on-demand DART service will replace all the bus routes in the area.
“When my mom called about it, the DART worker told her that I wouldn’t be left stranded,” Hernandez said. “But after researching, I’m not so sure.”
Upper school Spanish teacher Jill Quarles takes Route 31 to and from school every day as well. She decided to move to her current house because of the public transportation accessibility and routes to school. But the new routes will make the ride less convenient.
“From what I understand, these changes [to the DART system] are supposed to help more people use it and help more people get to places like work or school,” Quarles said. “But it seems to me that if [all of Preston Hollow] doesn’t have [access to the buses], they are not accomplishing their goal.”
Some people use public transportation for environmental, financial or medical reasons. Riding the bus or train is an alternative to paying for a car and car insurance while also helping with overcrowded streets and emissions; around 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that come from transportation are from commuters, and monthly or daily transit passes are significantly cheaper than financing a car. Driving a car also requires undivided attention while riding a bus or train allows work to get done or time to read a book or relax.
“Riding the bus keeps you active,” Quarles said. “After living in places like Chicago and traveling in Europe and realizing that you don’t actually need a car to get around, I became much more comfortable with using public transportation.”
In addition to the DART bus system, the Trinity Rail Express offers transportation mainly for commuters between Dallas and Fort Worth. Plans for a high-speed, 240 mile bullet train between Dallas and Houston called the Texas Central are in the works with an estimated cost of $20 billion, according to the Dallas Morning News. The train will carry approximately 400 passengers. It will attempt to not disrupt landowners by using public rights of way and is expected to take six years to complete. Usually, the drive to Houston lasts around four to five hours; the train is expected to shorten the duration of the ride to an hour.
In most parts of Dallas, the bedrock is too close to the surface, making it difficult to dig without spending exorbitant prices; however, DART has plans for a short subway called the D2 line, according to DART. The City of Dallas is making strides toward better and more accessible public transportation. The DART bus system remains the main form of public transportation; it remains to be determined whether the new bus routes will be a change for the better.
“The DART buses give people who aren’t as well off a way to get around without it being expensive,” Hernandez said. “Hopefully, the new system will make public transportation even more accessible because it’s better for the environment.”