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Call Me When DART's Orange Line Gets to the Airport

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DART already had the longest light rail system in the country before the $1.3 billion Orange Line added another three stations and several miles with its debut this morning. Sure, DART's soon-to-be 90 miles of track are dwarfed by the subway system in New York City, the L in Chicago, and Washington D.C.'s Metro, but still. It's a superlative, something to be proud of.

The expansion has been greeted with cheers from various corners. DART is, of course, gleeful, as are Irving officials, who have coveted a light rail line since the 1990s. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson proclaimed that DART has "surpassed all expectations" and "done it right," and the Morning News, whose editorial pages has lately been filled with critiques of DART's light rail, was full of praise.

But it didn't take long this morning for someone to start pooping on the parade.

And since no one in Dallas has much reason to go to Irving with the Cowboys gone, and since Irvingites are just as tied to their cars as people in Plano, it won't be much longer before the Morning News launches another round of editorials wondering why ridership isn't higher even though we know the answer already.

The Orange Line does bring one indisputably positive development to Dallas' transit scene: a rail link to DFW Airport. Driving there sucks, parking there sucks even worse, and taking a taxi is too expensive, so budget-minded travelers are left begging reluctant friends or family members to drop them (OK, me) off at the airport. Paying a couple of bucks and hopping on a train will be a relative breeze. Makes you wonder why it took DART more than a decade to get around to.

Emphasis on will be. The DFW station won't open until 2014. Let's hold off on the celebration until then.

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