Dallas (North Central LRT)

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North Central Corridor

Dallas, Texas

(November 1996)

Description

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) plans to build a North Central Corridor LRT extension beyond the Park Lane Station of their starter system. The initial segment of the starter line (downtown to South and West Oak Cliff) opened in June 1996. The remaining piece to Park Lane will open in early 1997. The proposed extension is 12.5 miles long with 8 stations, terminating in Plano with two additional stations deferred for future development. The southern 8.5 miles, from Park Lane to the Richardson Transit Center, would be double tracked. The northern 4.0 miles would be single tracked with limited station development. DART estimates that over 11,000 daily riders will use this extension in the year 2010. The project is estimated to cost $347.1 million (escalated dollars).

Status

The extension project is now in the preliminary engineering phase of project development. A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was circulated in October 1996. The final EIS is expected to be available in early Spring 1997, at which time Final Design efforts will commence.

The project is included in the regionally adopted metropolitan transportation plan and transportation improvement program which are in conformance with the state implementation plan for air quality.


There is no ISTEA authorization for this project. Through FY 1997, Congress has appropriated $16.36 million to the project.

Justification

Mobility Improvements - The LRT extension is estimated to save 3,600 hours of travel time daily (compared with a TSM alternative). Approximately 3,800 new daily riders are expected to be attracted by the line.


Cost Effectiveness - The cost-effectiveness index is $11 per new trip.


Environmental Benefits - Dallas/Ft. Worth is classified as a "moderate" nonattainment area for ozone. It is estimated that the project would reduce regional pollution emissions by 0.7 tons per day.


Operating Efficiencies - Systemwide operating cost per passenger for the no-build alternative is $2.88, for the TSM alternative $2.99, and $2.89 for the LPA alternative.

Local
Financial
Commitment

DART is requesting a 50 percent Federal share for the project, or $173.6 million. The local share would come from an existing 1 percent sales tax dedicated to DART. The agency is authorized to issue short-term notes of 5 years or less. The North Central project is part of a 20-year, $5.6 billion transit capital program adopted in FY 1996. For the total program, DART plans to seek $1.05 billion in Federal funds from the Section 5309 New Start funds, Section 5307, and CMAQ programs.

The ratings of capital financial commitment and operating revenues are based on the most current information available to FTA. The FY 1995 Transit System Plan provided data for the analysis and ratings. DART is currently updating this plan. However, updated financing information will not be available to FTA before completion of this report.


The capital finance plan is rated "high." Overall, DART presents a sound financial plan for supporting its capital expansion program. Projected growth in sales tax proceeds appears reasonable, if slightly above recent trends. With DART's decrease in total debt issuance and overall financial stability, the debt financing component of the financial plan appears sound.


The stability and reliability of operating funds are rated "low-medium." Projected increases in operating costs are consistent with the planned system expansion. The sales tax is projected to provide 74 percent of capital and operating revenues. The assumed growth in sales tax receipts slightly exceeds recent trends but appears reasonable. DART's financial capability is highly dependent on the growth in sales tax receipts, and the agency could experience financial difficulty if the assumed growth rates are not achieved. Farebox and other operating revenues are projected to grow more rapidly than operating costs, and much more rapidly than recent trends. In 1995, DART's bus fleet averaged 9.5 years old, which is slightly higher than the national average.

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
($million)
Appropriations to Date
Federal: Section 5309 New Start $173.60 $16.36 million appropriated through FY 1997
Local: $173.50 N/A
Total: $347.10

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions.

Other
Factors

Assessment of Land Use Policies and Conditions: This project was among those in the FTA Office of Planning's pilot assessment of land use and conditions (as a pilot for evaluation and rating of transit-supportive land use policies as a new start criteria, beginning in FY 1999). This pilot application is described earlier in this report. The North Central Corridor has the highest population and the second highest employment (projected to increase 54 percent 1990-2010) in the Dallas region. While no formal DART or local government policies are in place, DART has coordinated with local municipalities to locate stations to maximize ridership and development opportunities. DART has initiated discussions with the cities of Plano and Richardson regarding transit-oriented development opportunities.

North Central Corridor Map. The project's proposed extension is 12.5 miles long with 8 stations, terminating in Plano with two additional stations deferred for future development. The southern 8.5 miles, from Park Lane to the Richardson Transit Center, would be double tracked. The northern 4.0 miles would be single tracked with limited station development.