One of the biggest changes in DART history happened Monday.
The Dallas area rapid transit system launched a total redesign of bus routes, which was supposed to make travel easier for riders.
Many bus stops changed locations or closed and some routes were eliminated, affecting riders across all 13 DART cities.
Passengers with questions were told to visit DART’s website or call DART Customer Service at 214-979-1111.
Passenger Edward McClothurn is one of many who had problems Monday making a connection at the Downtown Dallas West Transfer center for a trip he'd easily made in the past.
"I just left somewhere, I got to go to school, so I’m like, what am I supposed to do now? I got to wait for another one. I’m going to be late," he said.
DART had staff members posted at the Transfer Center where McClothurn was stranded. It turned out he was waiting at the wrong location for the new bus route he needed to finish his trip, but a transfer would still be needed.
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Spokesman Gordon Shattles said DART made efforts to warn passengers about the changes in advance.
"We tried to do as extensive a marketing job as we could, bags on our signs, advertisements, radio placement, everything we could think of," he said.
Passengers losing bus service can now use DART's newly expanded GoLink program, curb-to-curb transit using smaller DART vehicles, taxis and Uber. GoLink riders may travel to any destination within their designated zone or to a DART rail or bus transfer station.
Shattles said GoLink can be arranged online or by calling 214-515-7272.
"It allows you to get from your home to of course one of our transit centers, but also inside that zone you can go to the grocery store, go to the doctors or go see family. And the best thing about it is, it’s all included in the price of your DART pass," Shattles said. "They will quite literally come to your house. They will come to the restaurant you are having dinner at, as long as it’s inside that zone."
To help passengers adjust, rides will be free from Monday, Jan. 24 until Sunday, Jan. 30. DART will also give 50% off all rides if bought through contactless payment from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14. These promotions are available for all DART services.
The reason for the big change rises from years of complaints from passengers and Dallas City Council Members that prior DART bus service was very slow and did not serve distant commuters trying to reach jobs.
The old DART bus routes dated back to 1983 when the transit system was first established. North Texas has grown in many new directions since then.
Most of the transit service was designed in a hub and spoke pattern around downtown Dallas with passengers directed there for transfers instead of offering direct cross-town service.
The overhaul adds east-west routes, decreases waiting times and boosts frequency on the busiest routes.
"By taking out some of those underperforming bus stops we’re able to speed up our buses. That means you’ve had a 30-minute wait, now you’ve got a 15," Shattles said. "We might have only had five days a week. Now it’s seven days a week, 5 a.m. to midnight. And on our 22 core routes, it’s 4 a.m. to 1 a.m."
Another goal is better service to large employment locations in certain parts of the Metroplex like Plano and the Dallas Inland Port.
The DART GoPass app on smartphones helps pay for and arrange rides.
Residents expressed past concerns about the bus route changes. And riders Monday experience problems.
"You’ll be sitting at your regular route number and the new number will pass right by you," passenger James Sherman said. "Once you get the numbers straightened down and the route where you are going, it might get a little bit better."
Shattles said DART tried to let riders know about changes through signage on all 10,000 bus stops. It also held virtual community sessions and Q&A events on Facebook and YouTube.
"it’s a mixed bag for them right now. They appreciate the new service, the new frequency, but they are having sort of a difficult time getting through the first day of knowing our new routes," Shattles said.
Shattles said more changes could come depending on how riders react to the new service.