Who Wins a Race to DFW from Downtown Using a Car and DART During Rush Hour?

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Your boss tells you that you have to attend a business meeting in Paris, you poor thing. After packing a bag or two, how much time should you reasonably allot to get to the airport from your downtown office?

In honor of DART's new orange line expansion, we decided to compare driving to DFW from downtown, during rush hour, compared to taking the DART train. My colleague Sky Chadde kindly volunteered to act as a guinea pig in this experiment, taking the DART train from the West End Downtown location to DFW. I drove from the station.

According to Texas A&M's Texas Transportation Institute, between gas and car wear, DFW drivers wasted around $1,000 each in 2012 sitting in traffic. My calculator informs me that's about $2.74 per day. So, let's say you sacrifice around $2.74 to drive to DFW during rush hour. The cost of a DART ticket to DFW is $2.50, so you're saving about 20 cents by taking DART.

But let's not forget parking. The cheapest parking tabs at some of the remote long-term locations cost $9 per day. Even if you add on a DART ride from your neighborhood to the West End station, it's still $2.50 including the ride to the airport.

Now for the time comparison. Without traffic, the 20-mile journey would have taken me about 25 minutes. During morning rush hour it took me 42 minutes to get to remote parking, where the DART stop is located, from downtown. It would have taken me another 20 minutes until I could catch the shuttle to Terminal A, and then likely another 10 minutes on the shuttle. Sky took 51 minutes to get directly to Terminal A.

It's worth noting that Sky also got to read and journal and do any number of amusing activities during his ride to DFW, while I decoded the literature on the bumper stickers in front of me for half an hour. Sky was, predictably, in a much better mood when we met back up at the downtown station.

There's a lesson to be learned from this very scientific experiment: Depending on where you live, it's potentially much better on your watch and wallet to take the DART line on your next trip to DFW. More important, it might leave you just a little bit less crabby before you board your plane. Your flight attendant thanks you in advance.

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