Mayor Tom Leppert and other city officials got their first ride on the much-anticipated Dallas Area Rapid Transit Green Line this morning. The first four stops on the $1.8 billion, 20-station, 28-mile line will officially open Monday -- following tomorrow's Super Saturday spectacular at the MLK Jr., Fair Park, Baylor University Medical Center and Deep Ellum stations. The politicos and accompanying media boarded at Victory Station for the quick ride to Fair Park, where U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was the keynote speaker at the official dedication luncheon.
As the train passed through the Baylor University Medical Center Station, Leppert and DART President Gary Thomas cheered; now, they said, Dallas, like Houston, will have "the medical connectivity" between various Dallas hospitals. Indeed, "connectivity" was the buzzword of the short ride.
Leppert said he would speak during the luncheon, inside the Women's Museum, about the importance of linking north and south Dallas. "It makes it much more convenient for people to have jobs across the city," Leppert told Unfair Park during the ride to Fair Park. (Still, you'll have to wait until at least December 2010 for the rest of the line to open.) "It helps the individual, and it also helps the economy. ... Clearly, we've got much higher unemployment in the south."
DART president Thomas agreed: "What the Green Line does it connects a lot of people to a whole lot of jobs." Thomas tells Unfair Park that, yes, he is working with developers to build around the new station locations. And he's sent workers to canvass various neighborhoods to get the word out about the new line. "We put door hangers on all of the folks' doors around the community," said Thomas.
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Just before Leppert exited the train at the Fair Park Art Deco-style station, Thomas summed up the value of the new line: "At the end of the day, it really boils down to a quality of life issue."
That's true: Finally, we have a way to get to the Amsterdam Bar in Exposition Park without having to drive.