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Dallas - May 2011

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Dallas — Streetcar Could Get Peoplemover Funds

Rail Transit Online, May 2011

A portion of the money set aside for an underground people mover connecting the airline terminals at Love Field with a nearby Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail station may be diverted to fund operation of the proposed 1.5-mi. (2.4 km) Oak Cliff streetcar.

DART decided to save money by not routing the northern leg of its Green Line directly into the airport, substituting the people mover as a link to Burbank station. But it was quickly determined that building a link on the surface to the slightly more distant Inwood stop, a route currently worked by a bus shuttle, would save another $100 million. "I think you'll find that there's really a very negligible difference in time (to Inwood), so I think this will work out fine," city Councilwoman Linda Koop told KXAS TV News.

DART is reportedly ready to shift $17.1 million of the surplus to the streetcar, with $9 million dedicated to purchasing rolling stock. The remainder will be placed into a reserve fund along with contributions from various sources including tax assessment districts and parking revenue, providing a long-term funding source for operations and maintenance.

DART's chief financial officer, David Leininger, told the Dallas Observer that the money "...will be drawn down over time and cover everything from labor costs to vehicle servicing and electric costs — everything associated with running the streetcars." A $23-million federal grant for the $35-million Oak Cliff project requires, among other things, that the city provide a guarantee that it can fund O&M for 30 years. "The federal government has given us a deadline, and we intend to meet it," said Koop.

The system's initial four-station segment would run from Union Station to Methodist Hospital in Oak Cliff but the city's streetcar plan calls for ultimately creating a circulator network covering all of downtown. Private-sector investment will be sought to help build the system. The North Central Texas Council of Governments will manage the streetcar project with DART acting as technical adviser.

Meanwhile, on Apr. 29 Kinkisharyo International presented its ameriTRAM" hybrid streetcar at a special ceremony in the city which included rides for officials and invited guests. "We thank the City of Dallas and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit for allowing us to exhibit our ameriTRAM here," said Rainer Hombach, vice president and general manager of Kinkisharyo International.


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