GRAPEVINE (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Area Rapid Transit made history early Monday morning, introducing a brand new way to get into DFW International Airport. It’s a major leap in public transit, finally connecting the area’s rail system to the area’s largest airport, and many people were there for the occasion.
CBS 11 News was on the first train that pulled into the airport rail station, along with many DART and airport employees who were on hand to help passengers with this new experience. A nearly five-mile extension to the rail system’s Orange Line leads riders directly to Terminal A at the airport. From there, it is about a tw0-minute walk to the actual terminal, or travelers can take either Skylink or a shuttle to other parts of the airport.
The $152 million extension opened about four months ahead of schedule. The first train arrived at the airport at 3:50 a.m. early Monday morning. The project has been in the works for the last eight years, and even longer for some. “When DART was first created in 1983, we actually anticipated this station then,” said DART president Gary Thomas.
“This is a momentous day for our customers and for DFW Airport,” stated airport CEO Sean Donohue in a statement, “because passenger rail is a critical component to DFW’s status as a top-tier international gateway. With the DART Orange Line connecting DFW to downtown Dallas, DFW is now on par with global hub airports that have integrated rail, which is a major selling point for customers and conventions.”
Some people on Monday morning wanted to take the first train simply to say that they were there for the special occasion. Kevin Butler said that he and his friends stayed up all night long in order to ride the first early train to DFW International Airport and bring home a souvenir ticket. “This is the first train to the airport, and I know it’s been a lot of years in the making, so I wanted to be a part of local history,” Butler said.
“We just stayed up late. It’s not like we just got up for this,” added passenger Chris Pritchett. “We haven’t gone to bed yet.”
Roddy Peeples is an ambassador for DFW International Airport. He was not scheduled to volunteer on Monday, but he offered to be there anyway. “Just for the fun of it, really,” he said. “I just wanted to do this and be one of the first passengers to ride the first train into DFW Airport.”
DFW International Airport serves nearly 166,000 passengers daily, and DART expects about 1,200 people to ride this new extension each day. “By adding five miles of rail to what was already the longest light rail system in North America, DART is connecting Dallas to the world through DFW Airport,” added Thomas.
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