Nothing Rapid About DART in Ice and Snow

Check me on this. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the outfit that runs the trains, didn't know how to keep their trains running in an ice storm. The same kind of trains operate in winter weather cities all over the world. There's a way to keep them running in an ice storm. But DART didn't know how.

Later in the week when we had a snow storm, it turned out that DART also didn't know how to keep their trains running in a snow storm. Trains like these can run in snow storms. DART just didn't know how to do it.

Also last week, when we had electrical grid power failures, we learned that, unfortunately, DART didn't know how to keep the trains running during electrical grid power failures. It can be done. Other train systems keep their trains running electrical grid power failures. Not DART.

Dallas, do we have a problem? (Guess we'll find out -- again -- come Wednesday.)

Think about it this way. What if you were DART? Every night before you went to bed, what would you worry about? Me, I'd say to myself, "Man, I hope I keep those trains and buses running tomorrow, because if I'm a train and bus company and I can't keep my trains and buses running, I'm not shit."

Even the Italians said that was the one good thing about their 1930s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. He may have been a detestable tyrant, but at least, goes the myth, he kept the trains running on time. Not DART.

They couldn't even keep the buses running. I used to ride the Woodward Avenue bus in Detroit when there was a foot of fresh snow on top of a two-inch hockey rink of re-frozen slush with all kinds of crazy traffic sliding around, passengers on the bus in wet galoshes sliding into each other's laps and a guy on the back seat who could still run a solid three-card monte hustle, and those buses came every five minutes.

These DART people get some snow and ice, and they can't even get the trains and the buses out of the barn.

I drove around town during those two really bad ice days, and I saw these poor miserable souls standing at the train stations in the biting wind, holding their ears and staring hollow-eyed like they were in in an Edvard Munch painting. I was afraid of getting stuck if I stopped, or I would have gotten out of my car and shouted at them: "THEY'RE NEVER COMING. ABANDON ALL HOPE, ALL YE WHO WAIT HERE FOR DART TRAINS. YOU ARE LOST HERE, LOST FOREVER."

As it was, I just drove by.

I thought about this all weekend. I went back over a lot of reporting I had done on DART in recent years, and, with that as background, I carried out an in-depth analysis and critique of DART, the results of which I am happy to share with you here:

What a bunch of incredible half-asses.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze