DART Celebrates 250 Million Rail Rides by Making Man Late to Work, Probably Hiking Some Fares

When the 3-year-old and I took the DART train to free day at the Nasher on Saturday, little did I know we were on the cusp of history. Ridiculously early this morning, some 36 hours after we stepped off the train, DART accosted feted one Don Johnson as the 15-year-old light rail system's 250 millionth passenger.

Johnson was traveling from his home in DeSoto to Richardson, where he works, when he was plucked from the train at Union Station and hustled over to DART CEO Gary Johnson, who presented him with a large "thank you" card and tickets to the Zoo, the Fair Park aquarium, Dallas Summer Musicals, and elsewhere.

A self-congratulatory video accompanying this morning's press release touts the rail system as the longest in the country and proof that, if you build it, they will come. (We won't delve into the wisdom of the ungainly hub-and-spoke model that has necessitated so many miles of rail). You can see the year-by-year ridership figures here.

The video also notes that this morning's celebration was not simply honoring Johnson, but you, too, dear rider.

Which is why, instead of free schwag, you'll be rewarded with a fare increase of, oh, 23 percent 33 percent for purchasers of a monthly or annual regional pass (though a fare decrease of 20 percent for the DART system). You can tell DART how that makes you feel at a series of town hall meetings or at a public hearing on June 26. Or by tweeting @dartmedia using #DARTFareChange from 1 to 2 p.m. on June 14. Keep it civil, people.

But back to Johnson. I'm sure all the goodies were much appreciated, but he surely wasn't riding the train at 5 a.m. just for laughs. There he is in the picture with Thomas, still clutching his lunch and coffee, and DART spokesman Mark Ball confirms, he was on his way to a job at Vent-a-Hood. So, unless Johnson plans his commute around surprise meet-and-greets with public transit officials, might pulling him off the train make him late?

"Sorta kinda," said DART spokesman Mark Ball. "Because all the TV stations kept wanting him to go live."

But never fear. DART takes care of its customers so, in an ironic final twist, it gave its 250 millionth rail passenger a ride to work. In a car.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson