DART light rail service at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport began Monday with the first train officially arriving to link travelers to downtown Dallas.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit's Orange Line extension, the final nearly 5-mile, $152 million stretch to reach the airport, opened four months ahead of schedule at the DFW Airport Station Monday morning.
The new DFW station is at Terminal A where passengers can pass through security and walk directly to Terminal A gates or board the DFW Terminal Link trains to reach other terminal gates. Until now, DART's Orange Line stopped at the Belt Line Station in Irving where buses carried passengers on to the airport.
"This is a momentous day for our customers and for DFW Airport, because passenger rail is a critical component to DFW's status as a top-tier international gateway," said Sean Donohue, airport CEO.
An inaugural ribbon-breaking run Friday carried carloads of dignitaries, including members of Congress who helped pay for it.
"It's a world-class thing that really brings our region into that world-class strata," DART President Gary Thomas said. "By adding 5 miles of rail to what was already the longest light rail system in North America, DART is connecting Dallas to the world through DFW Airport."
Passenger Joseph Peters said he has used transit to reach New York airports many times.
"I think this would be good for a lot of people. It would cut down on traffic, that's for one," Peters said.
Irving's nearby Las Colinas area stands to benefit greatly from the direct DFW Airport connection. Las Colinas has several stations on DART's Orange Line.
Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne said redevelopment potential for the vacant Texas Stadium property also improves with completion of the DFW DART station.
"We are finally today here, after much money, much time and a lot of determination," Van Duyne said.
The first trip to DFW departed Monday at 3:50 a.m.
DART, a regional transit agency, operates the state's largest municipal rail system, serving Dallas and a dozen other North Texas cities and covering a geographic area of about 700 square miles. DART, which handles nearly 166,000 passengers daily, previously relied on a combination of rail service and buses to reach Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
DART was created by voters and funded with a 1-cent local sales tax in 1983, nine years after DFW Airport opened.