Ben Russell, NBC 5 News
DART has added three stations in Rowlett to the blue and orange lines.
Already the largest light rail system in the country, Dallas Area Rapid Transit has expanded its Blue and Orange rail lines as of Monday morning, extending its reach farther into the suburbs.
The Blue Line, serving the northeast section of the system, added its first stop in downtown Rowlett Monday.
The Rowlett station is the end result of a 4.5-mile extension from downtown Garland, and it will give passengers access to the entire DART rail system, spokesman Morgan Lyons said.
The city of Rowlett has invested $73.6 million into the system since 1984 in hopes that the train would also bring mean an economic development payoff.
"We are truly on the map," Mayor Todd Gottel said. "One thing that’s really plagued Rowlett over the years is really access. And the past 12 months -- between the President George Bush Turnpike and DART light rail [that] are now open -- it's providing unprecedented access that we've just never had before."
The parking lot was already full within hours of the new station's opening. City officials estimated that the parking lot was at least 85 percent full on opening day.
"It tells us that there's a lot of interest -- there's 750 parking places here," Lyons said. "We know that this is going to be a pretty successful stop for us. End-of-the-line stations typically are."
Before the opening, thousands of Rockwall, Wylie and Sachse residents used to have to drive to downtown Garland or Dallas just to catch the train.
"It's a wonderful thing for my wife, who works at the Dallas Market Center," G. Kent Smith said. "That way, she can get to and from work without any hassle and, when she gets home from work, she's in a great mood, if you know what I mean."
To the west, the Orange Line added two new stations Monday -- the North Lake College and Belt Line Road stations in Irving. Those stations push the Orange Line closer toward its eventual destination of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
The addition of the two new stations gives Irving five light rail stops, Lyons said.