A new report on poverty in Dallas recommends a lot of good could be gained by reducing the amount time spent navigating the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system.
The Mayor's Task Force on Poverty report released last month, titled "Reducing the Epidemic of Poverty and Ending the Opportunity Gap," detailed a rising poverty rate in Dallas that is in sharp contrast to the rest of Dallas-Fort Worth — the poverty rate increased 42 percent during the 15-year period where Dallas' population grew by 4.4 percent.
DART's bus service works on a hub-and-spoke layout in Dallas, with many of the routes funneling commuters into the Downtown hub before transferring them back out of the city center to their desired destination.
According to the Poverty report, less than 20 percent of the jobs in Dallas are accessible by public transit in less than 90 minutes. The report recommends working with DART to reduce that travel time to work to less than one hour.
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Tawanna Kelly, of Dallas, said it takes her two buses and nearly two hours to get from her home off Camp Wisdom Road near Interstate 20 to her job at the Frank Crowley Courthouse just west of Downtown.
"It's frustrating, because you depend on DART to get you from A to B," she said, explaining that any delays set off a chain of events that results in her being late.
"Changing our bus system will take some time, but that work is underway," DART Assistant Vice President of Communications Morgan Lyons said. "The biggest changes will happen in a couple of years."
Lyons noted that instead of a major overhaul to the bus route system, similar to what Houston successfully accomplished last year, DART's primary plan to reduce time spent on its buses is to purchase more buses.
"Buses are built to the specifications of a transit agency, so it takes time to get that done," he said. "They've not been purchased yet and won't be for at least another year."