Finally Oak Cliff's streetcar actually goes somewhere. Monday, after nearly 18 months of ferrying riders from downtown's Union Station to the El Fenix at the intersection of Colorado and Zang Boulevards in Oak Cliff, the city of Dallas and DART joint project will begin taking people all the way from Union Station to the Bishop Arts District. The line terminates on Zang between Seventh and Davis Streets.
The streetcar is still free to ride and may be boon for tourists, and any others looking to hop to Bishop Arts for a meal or shopping without having to deal with the neighborhoods' often nightmarish parking situation. Beyond that, though, the streetcar is still lacking in practical application, thanks largely to the hours during which it will operate.
It runs between 9:30 a.m. and midnight, much to the chagrin of anyone hoping to use it as part of their morning commute — and many of those who fought for the streetcar in the first place.
"One thing that will have to be corrected soon with the streetcar is its hours of operation,"Jason Roberts, who founded the Oak Cliff Transit Authority in 2006 to fight for the streetcar, said on Facebook Sunday. "The city is starting first rides at 9:30 a.m. and ending at midnight, which would be focused on tourists. The [federal] TIGER grant we applied for and received was specific in stating 'the implementation of the streetcar line in Dallas will provide a multi-modal link between jobs and residents.' With the current hours, we're in direct opposition to the guidelines of the grant which could open up the city to some major issues. Standard 'job' hours for residents would require it starting at least by 7 a.m."
The expanded service for the streetcar also means heavy modifications for DART's D-Link bus service, which has been running loops around downtown, the Cedars and Bishop Arts for customers since 2014. With the streetcar going farther, D-Link will no longer operate in Oak Cliff. The parts of the bus route not covered by the streetcar will now be covered by bus route 723. A bus covering the new route will meet every streetcar at the stop in Bishop Arts, before running a counterclockwise loop of Davis Street, Polk Street, Jefferson Boulevard and Zang Boulevard. Unlike D-Link, route 723 will not be free.
D-Link will also stop running to the Cedars and Victory Park, sending riders back to the paid light-rail trains and buses that already serve those locations. The free route's hours will remain the same: 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Eventually, the plan is for the streetcar to expand northeast through downtown and connect with the McKinney Avenue Trolley. Those plans have been somewhat muddied by the undetermined route of the proposed second light rail line through downtown.