Ever since his days in the Bay Area riding Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains Tex Eck has loved convenient, reliable, cheap and frequent public transportation. From his days in Seattle however (Where Tex Eck went by a different name: Mr. Fifty Degrees Shirt Off Guy- don't look for the blog) Ol' Tex was resigned to cabs. Seattle tried to build a monorail for no apparent reason that would run between two neighborhoods nobody ever traveled between. Never happened,more of a Shellbyville idea but Seattle residents still pay for the approved funding on their car tabs. Then came the trolly car that goes from a place nobody lives to a place nobody works. It runs under the name South Lake Union Transit. As you can imagine it took local entrepreneurs about no seconds to start printing "Ride the SLUT" T-shirts. Which were banned on the Trolly cars. By the South Lake Union Transit Authority.
So Tex Eck was thrilled to learn that in the land of the Big Trucks- every day on the road is Sunday SUNday SUNDAY!!- there is a light rail called Dallas Area Rapid Transit. DART. Now it took Tex Eck a little while to get the hang of DART due to something you will read more about in other contexts on this blog: Dallitude. When it comes to DART, Dallitude requires that at certain income levels and certain zip codes one should drive their ca, er Truck/large SUV. "Look K, another Toyota Excuseya." Dallitude also smiles on talking on cell phones while driving as well as applying make up. Dallitude frowns upon things like designated drivers. You hear that phrase about as often as "honey, take the kids out of the back of the pick up before we drive, its not safe."
Now there is a soft, southern polite countenance that mixes with the Dallitude to form a strange cocktail of personal judgment. The result- no one will say to you that you should not ride that DART. A series of urban myths evolve that are passed on in hopes of achieving the same result. Tex Eck will now enumerate and respond to those claims.
Claim: The DART only runs during commuter hours, not late enough to go out at night.
Verdict: False. Dart runs as late as 1 am on weekends and almost as late during the week. Tex Eck does not think those with Dallitude are ever out late enough to notice this. Or sober enough behind the wheels of their Toyota Excuseyas.
Claim: DART is not air conditioned.
Verdict: False. Tex Eck has been at a DART station in 102 degree heat and when that train pulls up it is like the Coors Silver Bullet Blast commercials.
Claim: People who ride DART are smelly homeless drunks who are at best rude and at worst dangerous.
Verdict: Well... Look, it is public transportation in a city with a wide economic spectrum. In reality few cities, like San Francisco or New York, can claim people who make six figure salaries ride the train. This is not stopping Tex Eck. And as a final note, the pay system is sort of a de facto honor system- you purchase a ticket at a machine at a station. The fare is the same no matter how far you travel. Tickets are checked on a random system by DART employees on the train. Tex Eck has noticed that tickets are almost never checked during the stretch of stops in the poorest neighborhoods. Kind of a nod to the fact that there are people who need to get to and from work and home who can't even afford the modest DART fares.
More later. Tex Eck has a train to catch.