Dallas — M Line Proves Popular
Rail Transit Online, February 2003
Extending the McKinney Avenue heritage
streetcar line to DART's Cityplace light rail station and incorporating what
was once an all-volunteer, enthusiast operation into the regional transit
system has boosted ridership from little more than 2,000 each month to
11,000. Of course, making the McKinney Avenue line fare free also helped.
Although a paid staff has augmented the volunteers, the McKinney Avenue
Transit Authority (MATA) is still independent. A survey of less than 100
riders made last fall shows only 16 percent using the trolleys for
recreational or business trips, with the remainder traveling to school or
work. Construction of a long-planned 0.8 mi. (1.28 km) second extension
costing $4.6 million may finally get underway next summer, bringing the
tracks looping through the expanding downtown Arts District and a terminal
just a block from the St. Paul LRT station. Next fall, it is hoped to begin
installation of a turntable at the Cityplace station, which will allow the
use of two ex-Toronto single-end PCC cars now stored at DART’s maintenance
facility. MATA’s current fleet of four antiques is double-ended.
Meanwhile, there are proposals to expand the McKinney operation even more,
with a branch to the West End Historic District and a route along Main
Street or another parallel thoroughfare. DART’s expansion plan calls for a
second light rail line through the downtown core in about a decade to handle
traffic from proposed new lines to Farmers Branch, Carrollton, Rowlett and
D/FW International Airport.