DART, America's Longest Light Rail System, Turns 30

Long-time executive director Gary Thomas reflects on the milestone and the future of mass transit in North Texas.
by | September 3, 2013

In 1983, voters in Dallas County and 14 cities approved the a 1-cent sales tax and the creation of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, or DART.

Today, DART is all grown up -- it turned 30 last month -- and is now the longest light-rail system in the country, with 85 miles of railway and 61 stations.

Governing spoke with DART Executive Director Gary Thomas on the milestone and what the future holds for transit in the rapidly growing region. Thomas, who's led the agency for more than 12 years, was involved in the original design of the system and has worked for DART since 1998. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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What made the conditions right for Dallas, of all places, to develop such an extensive light rail system?

There were some visionaries in Dallas and the suburbs around Dallas who said we can't continue to grow like we are and expect the highway system to move these people. They knew that you just can't pave everything. They were bold by saying we need another choice.

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