DART's Oak Cliff Streetcar Seems to Shut Down All the Time. What's the Deal?

Among the first things Unfair Park — yes, we're still calling ourselves that, old habits die hard — does when it gets up in the morning is to quickly scroll through Twitter. Since the downtown-to-Oak Cliff streetcar started rolling in April one thing that's popped up consistently is DART's alert account warning riders that the streetcar isn't running and is being replaced by a bus shuttle. Since the beginning of June, there have been seven reported stoppages.

Whenever it happens, riders who've become frustrated with the $50 million project's inability to provide consistent service chime in, generally with something along these lines:

So far, the streetcar has been stalled by issues with its brakes, hydraulic system and the batteries it uses to help each of its two $4.5 million cars traverse the Houston Street Viaduct without overhead electric lines. DART spokesman Mark Ball says via email that the streetcars' issues are partially a matter of perception. Because only one streetcar is in operation over the viaduct at a time, DART has to inform riders when it's out and provide replacement bus service. If a bus or light rail car goes out, it can be easily replaced because their other vehicles are available in reserve, Ball says.

Only the first phase of the streetcar project is up and running, connecting Union Station downtown to the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Beckley Avenue in North Oak Cliff. It's basically a downtown-to-El Fenix or maybe Methodist Hospital shuttle. Eventually, it's intended to connect the Omni Convention Center hotel downtown to the Bishop Arts District.

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