Darting Into Dallas

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system is a fantastic way to get attendees from the airport to the city center.

Drawing by a fourth-grader at McCoy Elementary School, Carrollton, Texas.
Drawing by a fourth-grader at McCoy Elementary School, Carrollton, Texas.

When I flew to Dallas last week to visit my sister Julia, I thought I would jump in a cab from the Dallas Fort Worth Airport (DFW) to make the 20-mile-trip to her house, which is near downtown. But, as it happened, the day I arrived — Aug. 18 — was the very day that Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) opened an airport station. So instead of a cab, I jumped at the chance to try it out.

DART is the longest light-rail system in the country, but until last Monday, it lacked a direct link from downtown to DFW, the third busiest airport on the world.  The long-awaited link makes Dallas more competitive as a global meeting destination, Phillip J. Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas CVB, told media. “When international visitors arrive at DFW Airport, they expect it.”

The shiny new airport station is near Terminal A — I flew into Terminal C, but the airport’s Skylink train had me there in less than five minutes. From there it was a short walk from the terminal to the train.  DART was a snap to use. I bought a ticket from a machine, but you can also download a “GoPass” app to bypass the line.

The fare, which is calculated in time rather than distance, was $2.50 for two hours, which was more than enough to get to Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center downtown, had that been my destination.

About twenty minutes into the trip, the train pulled along beside the Irving Convention Center, which rose like a piece of sculpture from the surrounding green landscape (and looks far lovelier than my snapshot at the left suggests).  I didn’t have time to stop, but the center is only a five-minute walk from the light-rail station. I got up off my seat when the center came into view — as part of an October 2010 story about the convention center of the future, I talked with architect Barbara Hillier when the center was still on the drawing board. It was very satisfying and more than a little exciting to see her vision to create a different kind of energy made real.

All in all, it took just a little over an hour for me to get downtown, on a route that also stopped at the West End Historical District and the Dallas Arts District. Julia originally had planned to come and pick me up at DFW, but had drawn jury duty on the day I arrived. But even had she been available, DART would have been a great way to go, especially at rush hour. It saved us time and money – I was in town for three days and we came up with plenty of fun ideas about how to spend both.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.