This excellent animation from TrueMajority shows in
graphic detail (using Oreo cookies) how ridiculously, large
the military budget is, and how we could solve many domestic
problems with a modest 12% cut. A must-see. (watch
Dallas makes most of
its light rail lines by Ken Hoffman, Houston
Chroncle, June 13,
DALLAS -- It's bad enough that
Dallas has light rail and we don't.
But even worse, light rail is a
big success up here. Dallas folks love it. They may not have
wanted it at first, but now that they have it, they want more and
more. And they're going to get it.
Plus, the federal government is
kicking in millions to help them.
It just isn't fair. Dallas is
zipping along on light rail, grabbing dinner in the West End
entertainment district and getting to the basketball game at
Reunion Arena before tipoff.
Meanwhile we're stuck in a
traffic jam on Loop 610 because one car overheated on the feeder
and everybody has to slow down to examine this fascinating event.
And if it's drizzling, too, forget it. We're lucky to get home in
time for the Seinfeld rerun at 10 p.m.
Light rail didn't always get a
"way to go" in Dallas. In 1988, voters turned a resounding
thumbs-down, and a few other fingers, on light rail. But Dallas
Area Rapid Transit built a 20-mile rail "starter kit" with
borrowed money, anyway. The trains began rolling through downtown
in June 1996.
Light rail was an overnight
sensation, standing room only (literally), that keeps getting more
DART projected about 25,000
daily riders. They're getting 40,000.
Ten years ago, 250 people lived
downtown. Now 13,000 reside downtown in renovated lofts, condos
and apartments within a half-mile of the intersection of Akard and
The rail system cost $860
million to build but already has spurred $800 million in
development along the tracks, with millions more
According to the University of
North Texas' Center for Economic Development and Research (sounds
like a fun group), the value of property adjoining Dallas' light
rail stations is 25 percent higher than similar property not
served by the rail system.
Rents are 47 percent higher in
office buildings near the rail. Occupancy is 8 percent higher in
shopping centers along the rail.
Most important, they're selling
twice as much barbecue at Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse in the West End
since light rail arrived.
Light rail in Dallas is divided
by two lines, Red and Blue. The Red Line runs from north Dallas,
past the Dallas Zoo, through downtown to south of the Trinity
River in West Oak Cliff. The Blue Line connects downtown with
South Oak Cliff.
By 2015, there will be nearly
100 miles of light rail, taking passengers to Garland, Richardson,
Plano and beyond.
According to a poll by the
Dallas Morning News, 80 percent of Dallas voters are expected to
approve more funding for future rail projects this
They're even willing to stomach
a 1 percent sales tax to pay for light rail. Texans approving a
tax? They must really love light rail.
Train cars in Dallas have
peaceful interiors. They do not have advertising for muffler shops
and divorce lawyers. Instead, riders can ponder the meaning of
poetry hung above the seats. The "Poetry in Motion" project
selects a different poem each month.
As I rode into the West End for
a burger, fries and chocolate yogurt, I contemplated Ode to the
Storm, in English and Spanish, by the Mexican poet Octavio
Each of the 20 stops on Dallas'
rail path is decorated to reflect the neighborhood's personality
and history. The Dallas Zoo stop, for example, is lined with tiles
painted in the colors of animals.
That's much nicer than "Pearl
Jam rules!" scribbled in Magic Marker on a bench at a Houston bus
stop. Even though I happen to agree with the graffiti artist's
The train cars are roomy and
clean. They have police on board to ensure domestic tranquillity
-- and to make sure you have a ticket.
There are reminders that
smoking, loud music, eating and gambling are prohibited on the
train. Granted I haven't ridden light rail that often, but I've
never seen a floating crap game break out.
There are 90 seats, covered in
blue cloth, and standing room for about 70 more
The trains whoosh along
quietly, like the monorail at Disney World.
The bell is jingly, like a
neighborhood ice cream truck.
Tickets are $1, good for 90
minutes of travel. They're time-and date-stamped, so don't get any
I've tried without success to get local groups to add their events to this calendar (Bike Texas, the Yellow Bike Project, City's Bicycle Program, Bike Austin, etc.)
If you'd like to help edit the calendar, or at least add your group's events to it, then please let me know!
Another site by Michael Bluejay...
Saving Electricity. Find out how much juice your stuff uses, and how to save money and energy. As seen in Newsweek.