DART was created in 1983 as a regional replacement for the Dallas Transit System. Citizens of 15 area cities had voted to levy a 1% sales tax to join the system by the time it began transit services in 1984 (though formal acquisition of the Dallas Transit System wouldn't be complete until 1988).
Just a year later, in 1985, member cities Carrollton and Farmers Branch held elections to pull out of DART, though the measures failed. But shifting suburban politics and a loss of confidence in DART management led to 7 more pullout votes in the 1980s, two of which ( Flower Mound and Coppell) were successful. Just one suburb joined DART -- the tiny community of Buckingham, which was later annexed by DART member city Richardson.
1990, though, was a turning point for the agency when DART broke ground on its light rail system. The light rail system began service on time and on budget in June 1996, inaugurating the first light rail system in Texas and the Southwest. Commuter rail service to Irving began in December, after some delays.
To the surprise of critics, who expected the low ridership of the Miami and Los Angeles systems, the new light rail system was embraced by Dallasites, with ridership exceeding expectations. The suburbs' confidence in DART was also expressed at the ballot box: five cities held highly publicized pullout elections in 1996 (with the financial assistance of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones), but DART won handily in all five.
In 2000, DART opened Cityplace Station, the first subway station in Texas (and the Southwest) (excluding the Tandy Center Subway, a small private subway in Fort Worth, Texas between an office building and a parking lot which ceased to operate in 2002).
By 2002, DART light rail extended to the suburbs of Richardson, Plano, and Garland. In addition, DART's commuter rail line connected downtown Dallas with downtown Fort Worth (through an interlocal agreement with the Fort Worth Transit Authority, "The T") for the first time since the 1930s.
Source: Dallas Area Rapid Transit, DART History
DART is currently designing the next phase of the expansion of the light rail system. Two new light rail lines will extend out of downtown Dallas by 2007 or 2008. One line will run southeast from downtown to the Dallas neighborhood of Pleasant Grove. The other line will run northwest from downtown, connect to Love Field airport, and extend into the suburbs of Farmers Branch and Carrollton.
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2 Some Dallas suburbs not members of DART
DART Member Cities
Some Dallas suburbs not members of DART