Transit agency says that, while it may take some time for riders to get used to the new system, most will benefit in the long run from shorter wait times.
By Sriya Reddy
Kenneth Mosley rides the bus often. But while trying to get home this afternoon, he realized that he was waiting at the wrong stop for his bus.
Mosley wasn’t alone in his confusion as DART introduced new bus routes Monday as a part of a redesign plan, which it says aims to increase ridership and decrease wait times for passengers.
Mosley knew about the changes but didn’t know exactly how it would affect him. He knows it will take time to get used to the new system.
“People are getting adjusted,” Mosley said while standing at the bus stop at the corner of Commerce and Harwood. “Like I didn’t know that the 16 was coming down this way. I was waiting up by McDonalds.”
The route Mosely is taking was 164, but now the number has changed to 16.
Clarence Boyd was another confused passenger trying to get home Monday afternoon. Boyd said he knew that the bus routes were going to change but was not clear about the details. On Monday, Boyd stopped every bus driver he saw to ask if they were going toward the street he lives on.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Boyd said. “And half of the bus drivers don’t even know,”
The confusion does not come as a surprise for DART. Gordon Shattles, DART representative, said that the transit agency expects the first week to be the hardest. To ease the confusion, DART sent out representatives to every high-transit bus station all week to guide passengers to their destinations.
“This was definitely a change for all of us,” Shattles said. “I enjoyed being out today to talk to our customers, and I want them to know that we’re going to be in this with them together.”
DART is also compensating for the changes by providing all DART rides for free until Sunday and offering 50 percent off to riders who use contactless payments until Feb. 4.
“Once these changes become regular for all of us, they’re going to really enjoy, I believe, the frequency for all of our bus routes but also the longer hours,” Shattles said.
Lake Gardens resident Cory Clark works as a cook at the Irving Convention Center and was hopeful for a shorter commute. Before the redesign, he spent almost four hours of his day commuting Tuesday through Saturday.
With the new system, his ride time should be cut almost in half, he said
“I’m supposed to only take 45 minutes with the new system, because they’re going to cut some bus stops along my way and the trains are going to run again every 15 minutes,” Clark said. “That suits me better.”
Michael Gasaway started as a bus driver back in November but has been riding the bus ever since he was a child. Drivers had a preview of the new routes months before the change. Gasaway said that there is a lot of confusion right now but, for him, the routes don’t change too much, just an extra few turns to hit areas that buses used to not service.
“It’s not like a big significant change,” Gasaway said. “It could feel like that for a lot of the riders, but to the drivers who’ve been navigating the city, it’s not a big change. Navigationally speaking, it’s easy.”
As the driver for Bus Route 16, Gasaway said that he’s seen an increase of passengers on his bus and has noticed shorter waiting times between buses. He said that he’s heard from his passengers that the routes are more direct and that they have to make fewer changes.
Although the wait times are shorter, that also means that Gasaway’s breaks are shorter. He said that they used to be 15-20 minutes long and now they are 5-10 minutes long. However, he said that it’s not a big deal to him.
While DART is not anticipating any major changes to the bus routes now, it is gathering feedback to add into its five-year plan to improve transportation services in the area.
To learn more about the bus route changes, visit https://dartzoom.org/en/home or call customer service at 214-979-1111.
Staff writer MaríaRamos Pacheco contributed to this report.