DART Wants to Take You to the Super Bowl. But the Feds Have to Sign Off.

I was looking at the meeting agenda for tomorrow's Dallas Area Rapid Transit board meeting and noticed a couple of items of interest on the planning committee sneak peak, chief among them: If DART wants to get folks from member cities to the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium come February, it'll have to get the OK from the Federal Transit Administration. That's not just because Arlington isn't a DART member city, but because DART, which gets federal funds, can't compete with privately owned bus companies who'll be chartering ticketholders to the EnormoDome.

I asked DART spokesman Morgan Lyons how that differs from any other sporting event, like, oh, a certain fall classic at Fair Park. To which he offered this response:

We're able to serve Texas-OU because the Cotton Bowl is in Dallas, a DART member city. We start with our baseline service and are able to add to it. However, if you as an individual wanted to charter a bus to go to the game you'd have to go through all of the private contractors before getting to us. The rationale is DART buses (and most all transit buses nationwide) are largely paid for with federal funds. The Federal Transit Administration decided a few years ago that it was unfair for transit agencies to be in the charter business. The private sector operators should have first crack.

The Super Bowl is different for a couple of reasons. First, the location. Arlington isn't part of DART and we'd need permission from our board to provide bus or commuter rail service. This is an opportunity to keep them informed about the project and our role in it. Second, we already know of the interest in using the TRE trains on the Union Pacific corridor south of the stadium. I believe the [North Central Texas Council of Governments] is working with UP on that agreement and will arrange for a temporary platform. In any event we'll need permission to operate to that location on that day. Also, the NFL tells us there's such a huge demand for buses on Super Bowl Sunday it's possible our buses would be needed and they would want to charter them. We're just lining things up in case that happens. Not every location seeks the FTA waiver. Miami, didn't, for example. I know they used lots of school buses and that may be what happens here.

All part of the planning.

And, for those so interested, the briefing doc also includes the proposed Orange Line approach to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, along with conceptual renderings of the light-rail stations at the various airport terminals.

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