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If You Happen to See a Streetcar Downtown Today, No, You're Not Hallucinating

There's an intriguing item on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit's board agenda this morning: "DART Board of Directors' Streetcar Tour." Which is exactly what it sounds like: At 11:30 this morning, the DART board -- and some city of Dallas officials, says DART director of media relations Morgan Lyons -- will hop aboard an honest-to-God streetcar for an extended tour of downtown. Here's the schedule:

1. Streetcar departs DART Headquarters at Akard Station to Victory Station at 11:38 a.m. and returns to Akard Station at 11:55 a.m.

2. Streetcar departs DART Headquarters at Akard Station to Baylor Station at 11:56 a.m. and returns to Akard Station at 12:25 p.m.

DART spokesman Mark Ball tells Unfair Park this morning they'll put the train on the tracks at the DART light-rail yard, then bring it through downtown for the morning show-n-tell. Lyons tells Unfair Park this morning it'll be a Kinkisharyo ameriTRAM, like the one seen here (and here).

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"It's a example, a prototype," says Ball. Alas: No one other than DART board members and city officials will be allowed aboard. The future is now. Well, in three hours. And only for an hour. But, still.

Update at 9:10 a.m.: On the other side is DART's media release that went out shortly after I posted this, in which the transit agency explains: "The ameriTRAM is electric and is powered by either overhead catenary, like DART Rail, or on-board lithium-ion batteries. The vehicle can travel up to five miles on a full charge. It is 100% low floor and fully accessible."

Streetcar demonstration set for today

News media representatives are invited to join DART officials for a demonstration of the ameriTRAM streetcar on Tuesday, March 8. The ameriTRAM prototype, manufactured by Kinkisharyo, the maker of DART's light rail vehicles, is scheduled to make a test run between Akard and Victory stations on the Green Line.

Since this is a prototype vehicle, rides will be limited to no more than eight passengers per trip and only two trips will be made. The demonstration trips are being made during regular DART Rail revenue service. DART Rail schedules will not be affected by the demonstration.

The ameriTRAM is electric and is powered by either overhead catenary, like DART Rail, or on-board lithium-ion batteries. The vehicle can travel up to five miles on a full charge. It is 100% low floor and fully accessible.

DART is working as a technical advisor with the City of Dallas on a number of streetcar projects, including the planned connection to Oak Cliff, a connection with the McKinney Avenue Trolley and a future downtown streetcar network.

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