DART's New Idea to Seduce Suburbs Includes, You Guessed It, a Toll Road

Another train line through a bottlenecked downtown. Increasing bus and train frequency, even a little. Late-night service, even if it's just on the weekends. These are the things DART riders want, at least according to the long-term survey the agency has commissioned as it plans the next decade.

Those things are not the only things the DART board is talking about. No, at the board's most recent retreat last Friday, according to reporting from The Dallas Morning News' Brandon Formby, the board discussed building North Texas' favorite fetish object, a toll road.

The proposed turnpike would connect Dallas to Allen, Fairview and McKinney and help pay for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to run along the same route. The BRT is important because, in the thinking of the board, it might induce the northern suburbs to join DART.

"There's been a lot of interest in having service in that corridor for a number of years, a number of technologies have been talked about," DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said. "We own that corridor all the way north to Sherman and so really the question becomes, 'what's the best technology, what's affordable, what's something you could actually implement?'"

DART is also looking at lobbying for a change in state law that would allow new cities -- like Allen, Fairview and McKinney as well as southern suburbs like Cedar Hill and Duncanville -- to become DART members at something less than the $.01 sales tax full rate. Other cities that have partnered with DART on experimental service, such as Mesquite, have balked at the tax or are simply unable to pay it, as they've already reached the state maximum of 8.25 percent.

See also: Mesquite Is Ready to Bail on DART, but the Agency's Bending Over Backward to Keep It

DART's requirement that any new service partner hold an election within four years of contract service starting to see if citizens wish to join the agency is also potentially on the chopping block. Facing that deadline, Mesquite switched to rural transit provider STAR to shuttle residents to DART's Green Line last year.

"The phone stopped ringing," Gary Thomas, the DART board president told Formby of the election requirement. "They said it's a deal-breaker."

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