DART bus route that community had relied on for years will end January 24.
By Sriya Reddy
The city is partnering with Uber and DART to provide residents of Joppa in southern Dallas with two free Uber rides a day to designated locations for the next three years, but some Joppa residents are frustrated with the changes in transportation.
The program, JoppaRides, brings residents to and from 15 predetermined locations, such as the Dallas VA Medical Center, DART Ledbetter Station, and Fiesta Mart Grocery. JoppaRides runs from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. The two rides include going to the location and coming back.
DART representative Gordon Shattles said that the locations were pick through meetings with the community, planning divisions, and stakeholders.
“We’ve held a series of both online and in-person meetings, inviting residents in the Joppa area to come in and definitely understand the program, but also solicit input for the areas that they are going to be that they feel they need access to,” he said.
Some residents, like Temeckia Derrough, president of the Joppa Freedman’s Town Association, expressed concern with having just two rides a day. She said that she herself doesn’t use the bus, but many of her friends and family members do. Derrough gave an hypothetical situation of a woman who has to drop a child off at the elementary school, then she could use up their two rides and wouldn’t be able to get to work.
“Sustainable? No,” she said. “Access? You will have a little access, but it won’t be sustainable for you. And that’s the prime example.”
Shattles said that DART has heard these complaints from the community and are considering adding more rides.
Other residents, Like Reverend Rayford Terrell, support the program. Although he doesn’t use the DART bus, many of his members at New Zion Missionary Baptist Church do. He said that he supports anything that is beneficial for his community.
“They don’t particularly like the format that is there now,” Terrell said. “Early pick-up, a late drop-off, and only two rounds in the area. So this program will present more opportunities for transport.”
Currently, the bus line to Joppa operates during rush hour on weekdays. JoppaRides operated seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Terrell said that he understands why residents are hesitant to support the program because many of them fought for the buses to come to Joppa in the first place.
The program is coming about after DART’s redesign of bus lines takes away the bus that comes to Joppa beginning on January 24. The goal of this redesign is to increase the frequency of buses throughout the city. Joppa, however, is losing its bus because of the lack of ridership, according to DART.
DART will also add a GoLink program starting on December 6 to compensate for the lack of public transportation. GoLink provides a curb-to-curb service that brings residents to nearby stations.
Residents also say that the options that DART is giving are more inconvenient than the bus system.
“When they first sent this out, I was appalled,” Claudia Fowler said. “And I told DART I’m appalled and like you’re limiting where you’re taking us.”
Fowler has lived in the community her whole life. She and her mother advocated for DART to add a bus going into Joppa decades ago. Fowler remembers her mother, a cafeteria worker walking miles to get to work at 4 a.m. every morning.
“I just remember when the first bus came out here and how excited everybody was to see, you know, seeing a city bus come out to the Joppa community.” Fowler said. “She was one of the first ones that got on the bus.”
Now she feels frustrated that the bus that she fought for as a teenager will be taken away.
Shattles said that DART’s goal is to provide transportation access to the Joppa community.
Residents can sign up at this link https://www.dart.org/riding/jopparides.asp. Concerns and questions about JoppaRides, or other DART programs, can go to the Customer Information at 214-979-1111