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Get Moving! High Oil Prices Good (For Texas), More Rush-Hour Red Line ... and Streetcars

Bloomberg News says this morning that higher oil prices may be bad for Texans, but are good for Texas -- especially the so-called Rainy Day Fund Gov. Rick Perry doesn't want to touch to offset the state's $27-billion shortfall. (In a speech in Dallas only yesterday, the gov said the fund "must be used as an absolute last resort, not a quick fix"). The fund, of course, is fueled by taxes on oil and gas production, and Comptroller Susan Combs's early-year revenue guesstimates were awful low when compared to what the fund should be raking in right about now. Says Dallas Fed senior economist and vice president Mine K. Yücel, "The Texas economy is benefitting from higher oil prices."

But those higher (and higher and higher and higher) prices have also led some to wonder, yet again, if maybe it isn't time to park and ride rapid transit. Which is why Dallas Area Rapid Transit late yesterday sent word that it's "developing plans to have more frequent light rail trips on the Red Line North/Orange Line to create space for current customers and make room for new ones looking for an alternative to skyrocketing gasoline prices." The full release follows, but long story short:

The new schedule starts April 11 and increases rush hour capacity 28 percent during morning and afternoon rush hours. By comparison, rush hour ridership increased 15 percent during the peak gasoline prices of 2008. The capacity will be increased by adding more frequent service over longer periods of time; creating more 7.5-minute departures instead of the current 15-minute departures. Four trips will be added during morning rush and six during the afternoon rush.

And, to return to but one of yesterday's topics, if all goes according to plan, one day in the near future, right before we're all issued jet packs and transporters, we'll be able to hop streetcars downtown. Patrick took some great photos. But DART, like Rush, has the moving pictures. (Tangent: Has it really been 30 years?) Jump for the video.

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New schedule effective April 11

More rush hour light rail trips in the works

DART is developing plans to have more frequent light rail trips on the Red Line North/Orange Line to create space for current customers and make room for new ones looking for an alternative to skyrocketing gasoline prices.

The new schedule starts April 11 and increases rush hour capacity 28 percent during morning and afternoon rush hours. By comparison, rush hour ridership increased 15 percent during the peak gasoline prices of 2008. The capacity will be increased by adding more frequent service over longer periods of time; creating more 7.5-minute departures instead of the current 15-minute departures. Four trips will be added during morning rush and six during the afternoon rush.

The departure frequency, or headway, was increased in December as a cost-cutting measure and to match ridership demand. There are no plans to increase capacity on Red Line South, Blue Line or Green Line trains based on current and projected ridership. No bus routes are presently experiencing excessive loads, but staff is continuing to monitor ridership and will make adjustments as needed.

The increased Red Line North frequency was planned for implementation with the opening of the Orange Line to Irving in 2012.

The rail service changes will require adjustments to all Red Line trips as well as some Blue and Green line trips. Some connecting bus routes may also have minor adjustments. New timetables and station information will be produced reflecting the new schedules. Customers will also be able to receive the updated schedule information online at www.DART.org.

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