Dallas Area Rapid Transit has scheduled a series of virtual community meetings to gather feedback on a pending redesign of its entire bus network.

Community meetings will take place on at noon Thursday for Plano, noon April 28 for Carrollton, 6:30 p.m. May 12 for Rowlett and noon May 24 for Garland.

These sessions will focus on a five-year service plan dubbed “DARTzoom: A New Bus Network,” which has been in its second phase of planning since fall 2020. This phase follows one in which DART developed a series of network proposals with input from municipal partners, employers, transit workers and other stakeholders from spring to summer 2020.

The transit authority was given the approval to draft the bus network plan following a Nov. 10 vote between the DART Committee-of-the-Whole and Board of Directors.

“Some DART bus routes have been running the same paths since World War II, and most of the network was designed in the 1980s,” said DART’s April 2020 “Transit Choices Report” on the reason for the redesign efforts, while also noting a decline in transit ridership that effectively renders the current framework antiquated. “Redesigning the DART bus network does not mean every route or stop would change. It does mean, however, that everyone involved in this plan can think beyond the existing network. If there are routes or schedules that are meeting the region’s goals today, they are likely to be retained in the New Bus Network. If there are routes or schedules that are artifacts of history and no longer make sense, they can be revised.”

The report introduced two redesign concepts that were respectively constructed to accommodate areas with high population density and areas with scant coverage. These two concepts were designed not as formal proposals, the report said, but rather as an illustration of a spectrum of two specific needs.

Other factors brought into consideration amid the planning of this network include the presence of low-income residents who rely heavily on public transit. Per the March 2021 “Draft New Bus Network” report, “Slightly fewer residents in total would have access to any service at all. The people losing coverage would be disproportionately white and higher-income.”

The proposed bus network differs from the existing network largely in its extensive “15 minutes or better” coverage for many parts of Dallas proper, but also for its increase in the same coverage for routes in Richardson, Addison and Garland. It also features extended 30 minute coverage for routes in Plano, while also slightly diminishing such coverage in Carrollton and Rowlett.

More information on the proposed bus network and the meetings surrounding it can be found online at dartdaily.dart.org. An interactive map noting the differences between the existing and proposed networks can be found at dart-draft-new-network-viewer.s3.amazonaws.com/index.html.

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