DALLAS – DART on Monday told the Dallas Transportation Committee it underestimated rider turnout for this year’s Texas/OU matchup at the Cotton Bowl during the State Fair, which resulted in disastrous waits for trains.
According to DART President Gary Thomas, it was the highest attendance on the rails in fair history, as trains carried an unprecedented 132,000 passengers; all of whom wanted to be at the park before 11:00 kickoff.
So what went wrong?
“We anticipated a 50 percent bump in ridership,” Thomas said. “And what we got was a 138 percent increase.”
Officials say they had come up with the estimate based on ridership from previous sporting events and that about 3,000 riders were left dissatisfied.
“We feel badly that people didn’t get where they wanted to go,” said Thomas. “It was our worst nightmare, but it was a good problem to have.”
Looking ahead to future events, DART outlined some changes for next year, including:
- Increasing estimates to 165,000 riders
- Asking Trinity River Express to stop directly at Fair Park to help ease crowds on trains
- Using three-car trains instead of two-car trains
- Forming a “Quick Response Maintenance Team” to fix mechanical problems
- Providing shortcuts so trains can bypass stations
Officials also said DART will establish a command center to coordinate it all.
Most council members appeared supportive of DART’s efforts.
Committee Chair Linda Koop and councilman Sheffie Kadane acknowledged “the challenges” DART faced that day and complimented Thomas on the recommended fixes.
Councilwoman Delia Jasso however, was a little less enthused.
“We didn’t do a good job,” she said. “Anyone who says we did a good job last year — that just doesn’t sound right to me.”