Dallas Area Rapid Transit is set to expand in Collin County to accommodate the influx of tens of thousands of people moving to one of the fastest-growing areas in the country.
The expansion will be limited to increased bus service in the immediate future, not light rail.
Due to a booming economy, thousands of jobs are coming to Plano alone in the next few years. DART operates the largest light rail system in the United States, but the next expansion of service in Plano — the only Collin County community in DART’s 13 member cities — is not scheduled until 2035, according to an official.
Plano currently has two light rail stations — Downtown Plano and Parker Road — and the city is the farthest north that the system runs.
The park and ride lot at the Parker Road station, where both of DART’s Red and Orange lines end, is packed most mornings with people having to arrive early just to get a spot.
“There’s a lot of commuters here,” Pineto Woodard said. “If [DART] takes it all the way around the whole Metroplex, this would be like New York City."
It might be a tough sell, however, to the other DART member cities that they should pay to expand light rail service at the northern edge of the system.
“Build something on the edges of DART and people from non-DART cities enjoy the benefit. That doesn’t sit well,” noted Mark Ball of DART.
Ball added that, until recently, there was little reason to expand service in the Plano area.
“West Plano has fewer riders who use DART compared to other parts of the city. And that area was all raw land a year ago,” Ball said. “Only recently did that area become a major employment hub.”