Reporting Robbie Owens
ROWLETT (CBSDFW.COM) - Residents in Rowlett have a brand new way to get moving, thanks to a transit project three decades in the making. Dallas Area Rapid Transit officially opened the new Blue Line on Monday morning. The route offers service to downtown Rowlett, and a stress-free commute for those Rowlett residents who want to head into downtown Dallas or anywhere else that DART travels.
The Blue Line extension brings light rail service to Rowlett for the first time. Previously, residents who wished to use DART’s services had first been driving to the Garland station to catch a train. But, no more. Some people were already on the platform and waiting for the first train just after 4:30 a.m. on Monday.
“This is exciting, as we open the new line,” said DART president Gary Thomas. “Certainly the celebration of opening the line, completing the design and the construction is fun. But to see people come to the station, as they learn new patterns, as they accept new patterns, as they make the choice to get out of their car and get on the train.”
“Rowlett has been a member city of DART since the beginning, and they’ve had bus service since 1984. Today, we’re able to deliver rail service, and a connection to the entire system,” said DART spokesman Morgan Lyons. “It’s been a long wait.”
Local officials called this a great day for Rowlett, and are expecting the investment to pay off with long-term economic development. But in the more immediate future, the Blue Line is just an incredible convenience. “When I think about getting on 635 and sitting there, bumper-to-bumper,” Mayor Todd Gottel said, “you’re trying to just make it to work. And to be able to hop on a train and read your paper, open your iPad, it’s pretty cool.”
“It’s going to be a lot simpler, certainly for people who live in Rowlett. They can come to this station. They can get on a train,” Thomas explained. “If you’re going into downtown Dallas, it’s about a 40 minute ride. But the great part about that is, you can read the paper, you can take a nap, you can read your emails, and you don’t have to do it while you’re messing up traffic.”
“Think of the things you compete with to get into Dallas every day,” said Lyons. “There’s always some kind of a backup, and this really takes you out of all of that.”
“I figured it out and this is the best way ever,” said one excited passenger on Monday morning. “Absolutely love it!”
DART is also rolling out some new routes to the area’s biggest airports on Monday. Route 500 will take riders on the Orange Line from the Belt Line Station to DFW International Airport’s Terminal A. That includes hotels along Plaza Drive. And there is also Route 524 to take passengers from the Inwood Road Station to Dallas Love Field on the Green Line or Orange Line.
Lyons added, “At 85 miles, we have more electric light rail than any place in North America.”
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