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#1 RobertB

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 03:33 PM

For a rail fan, Dallas and Fort Worth are great places to hop off of the Texas Eagle or Heartland Flyer and spend some quality time riding around town on steel wheels.

The Texas Eagle stops at Dallas Union Station, and the platform is shared by the Trinity Railway Express commuter line, as well as the Red and Blue light rail lines. The Green (and soon, Orange) LRT line is one stop away. Take Red or Blue north, or just walk a few blocks (you'll go past the Kennedy Assassination site).

The Fort Worth ITC (Intermodal Transportation Center) platform hosts the Texas Eagle, the Heartland Flyer to Oklahoma City, and the Trinity Railway Express. Note that it's not the terminus for the TRE -- the train has one more stop before it turns around and comes back.

The ticket machines at Dallas Union Station and the Fort Worth ITC accept cash, coins, and credit cards (watch out, not all stations in Dallas have been converted to use plastic). A Day Pass is your best bet -- you can get a one-way ticket, but come ON. You rode Amtrak all the way to Dallas and you're only going to ride ONE local train? :) You can also (from the new machines) get a 7-day pass and a 31-day pass, which are roughly the price of a day pass every weekday with weekends as a bonus. DART hasn't had ticket voucher booklets for years -- I wish they'd bring them back.

One thing to keep in mind is that Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA aka The T) are separate agencies. But they've standardized their fare structures to make things easier for cross-Metroplex commuters.

Another very important detail: The Trinity Railway Express (commuter rail) does NOT run on Sundays! The only exception is during special events, like the State Fair of Texas in Dallas, and the Fort Worth Arts Festival.

Basic fares (as of May 2011):

* "Local" Day Pass, $4
This gets you on any Light Rail line (Red/Green/Blue/Orange), or any Local bus (all numbers except 200s on DART, all FW routes). Does not include commuter rail.

* "System" Day Pass, $7
Everything from the "Local" pass, plus DART 200-series Express buses, and the Trinity Railway Express to Centerport Station (DFW Airport via bus shuttle). The fare zone boundary on the TRE was recently modified so that a "System" pass gives you access to/from DFW from either Dallas or Fort Worth.

* "Regional" Day Pass, $10
This gets you on any bus or train in the Metroplex, including the Trinity Railway Express all the way from Dallas to Fort Worth and vice versa.

Both DART's light rail and the Trinity Railway Express (a joint venture with The T) work on an honor system. There are no turnstiles. Random fare checks are all that enforce paying the fare. (This causes consternation on local forums from time to time, from folks who can't do cost/benefit calculations.) Have your ticket available to present to a uniformed transit officer on DART LRT, or a conductor on the TRE.

If you'll be in town for a while and get a multi-day pass, you'll probably want to get the Local, unless you know you'll be taking several rides on the TRE. You'll probably be better off just buying a Regional Day Pass for the one day you'll need it.

The staff on the TRE commuter trains are very friendly, and I'm sure they'd love to talk train topics with a rail fan. The train doesn't turn around at the end of the line -- the back car has an engineer's cab. The frontmost passenger seat has a direct view in front of the train (or, in the other direction, behind the train). The trains run up to 80mph on a route a few miles north of the UP tracks, with a good amount of double-track segments, shared with freight but not overloaded. They almost always run right on schedule.

The DART Light Rail trains, by contrast, don't have any staff except for the driver, who is in the sealed cab at the front. DART even replaced the station announcements with a robot, much to my chagrin. I liked hearing the different operators. DART police and fare enforcement will come on board randomly, and are also pretty friendly (though moods may vary). The LRT is very reliable, unless something crazy has happened -- like this year's snow storms, which froze the switches, fouled the catenaries, and generally created chaos for a system designed for long stretches of 100 degrees, not 10 degrees.

Bus drivers, of course, can run the gamut from chatty to stoic to surly, though the surly ones aren't common. (For some reason, I've had more surly drivers in Fort Worth, but only on the non-tourist routes.) Buses have card-swipe turnstiles if you're using a day- or multi-day pass. You can buy a Day Pass on the bus with exact cash & coins, no change given. Just be sure to tell the driver what sort of pass you're getting before you put in any cash, so he can punch in the right pass type. And double-check it when you get it; make sure it says "Local", "System", or "Regional" (not "Reduced"!).

That will get you around town! I'll post more about what to see and how to get there, but right now, I've got to get back to work. Gotta save up for that big Amtrak trip this fall. :)
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#2 stntylr

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 06:32 PM

I like to ride the TRE to Dallas and the Texas Eagle back.

#3 RobertB

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Posted 09 May 2011 - 06:30 PM

Poking around the DART.org site, I found a very nice page of Hotels that are (mostly) convenient to the rail system. Here's the page: DART Travel Agent - Hotels.

One hotel -- only one! -- is offering a discount for DART riders. The Hotel Palomar has an interesting history: it got its start as a Hilton, and was even featured as a swanky rendezvous in the book (and maybe the movie, I'm not sure) Prizzi's Honor. But it fell on hard times, and new owners renamed it the "HiltoP Hotel". That lasted until 1993, when it was bought out of foreclosure and became the "Maharishi School of Vedic Science", operated by the Beatles' former guru (story here). In 1996, DART's Light Rail starter system opened, including Mockingbird Station across the street, but it was nearly ten years before the Maharishi finally sold the land to the developers who turned it back into a high-end hotel. Mockingbird Station has turned into Dallas' most successful (and by some definitions, only) transit village, with nice restaurants and the Angelika Film Center showing both art-house and mainstream films. If you had just one night to spend in Dallas and you wanted to stay right on the rail line, the Palomar would probably be a good choice.

Of course, while the Palomar and the other hotels on DART's list will probably be just the thing for the Roomette crowd, I tend more towards the coach seats... and the cheap motels. Here's a few that come to mind, though this is by no means an exhaustive list:

* Studio 6 (Motel 6 long-term suites) right by LBJ/Skillman Station on the Blue Line. Lots of restaurants within walking distance.

* If that's too rich for your blood, there's a joint called the Carousel Motel one stop north, at Forest Lane Station. It's definitely a roach motel, but it's not in a bad neighborhood -- mostly industrial and apartments, far from highways. There's a 7-11, pawn shop, and bowling alley all right across from the station.

* I hate to say it, but Farmers Branch Station on the Green Line is close to several chain motels. I personally refuse to spend a dime in Farmers Branch -- they're the town that is wasting its citizens' tax dollars fighting against immigrants.

On the other hand, sometimes the roaches win:

* The Como Motel on Central Expressway and near the Red Line is semi-famous -- and not in a good way. Local radio hosts talk about it with a wink and a knowing look. It just *looks* like a place you wouldn't really want to stay, but it's been there forever. Possibly worth walking past on your way from Spring Valley Station to the Super 8.

* I would avoid exploring the cheap motels on the Green Line south of I-635. The line parallels Harry Hines Blvd, once called "Whorey Hines" by locals because the hookers were so thick, you couldn't drive in the right lane for fear of hitting them. When the city cleaned things up for the Republican convention in the '80s, the hookers moved into the motels, and have been fighting a low-intensity back-and-forth battle with police ever since.

* Also, unless you know the area, you probably won't want to select a sight-unseen cheap motel on the rail lines south of downtown. Some are respectable places, but too many of them are "hot-sheet" motels that community activists have been trying to close down for years.
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#4 Jonathon

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 03:18 PM

Taking Amtrak OKC to NOL @Christmas...anyone know how expensive parking is around the OKC Amtrak station?

#5 Shortline

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 01:40 PM

Taking Amtrak OKC to NOL @Christmas...anyone know how expensive parking is around the OKC Amtrak station?



Probably a little late now, but its $7/day I understand.

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#6 Shortline

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 01:43 PM

Taking my 11 YO son and a friend of his down to FTW on the train from OKC, we'll definetely hit the Stockyards, but what else is there for us to do within walking distance of downtown FTW or the TRE commuter trains? We're not into riding around on commuter rail for no reason, but will use it to get somewhere. Can rent a car, but prefer not to if not necessary. Thanks!

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#7 ehbowen

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 12:54 AM

Taking my 11 YO son and a friend of his down to FTW on the train from OKC, we'll definetely hit the Stockyards, but what else is there for us to do within walking distance of downtown FTW or the TRE commuter trains? We're not into riding around on commuter rail for no reason, but will use it to get somewhere. Can rent a car, but prefer not to if not necessary. Thanks!


Be advised that the Fort Worth Stockyards are not downtown, but rather about 3 miles north...the Fort Worth money men wanted to keep the stink at arm's length. A cab ride or rental car will probably be required. There may be public transit, but Google doesn't show it.
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#8 eddie van halen

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 04:52 PM

Taking Amtrak OKC to NOL @Christmas...anyone know how expensive parking is around the OKC Amtrak station?


i assume youre looking for overnight parking? however i can advise that a local secret to free daytime parking (not overnight) is located at the Bass Pro Shops in Bricktown located on Reno Ave. Many park there and walk to all the attractions located in Bricktown/Downtown. There is also a San Francisco-esque stylized bus trolley that picks up and drops off passengers right in front of Bass Pro and connects to several downtown attractions and even makes a route to the Oklahoma City National Bombing Memorial.

#9 Engine58

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:54 PM

Heading to DAL via the Texas Eagle, my main reason is to see the White Sox play the Rangers in Arlington, but is there any cool things to do in downtown Dallas? I'm from Chicago, so I'm used to an Aquarium and Zoo.

Any suggestions on ideas or nightlife?

Thanks

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#10 June the Coach Rider

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 05:10 PM

Heading to DAL via the Texas Eagle, my main reason is to see the White Sox play the Rangers in Arlington, but is there any cool things to do in downtown Dallas? I'm from Chicago, so I'm used to an Aquarium and Zoo.

Any suggestions on ideas or nightlife?

Thanks


There is a great area in downtown Dallas for nightlife. It is right near the Kennedy memorial. Someone else will have to get you the name. But it is a great area. If you are going to be in Arlington, you should also try and go over to Fort Worth and visit the Stockyards. They still walk the long horns on the streets during the day.

If you have not been there before, you will see things are spread out a lot more than Chicago is. Enjoy yourself. I am going down to visit my brother by train in May to see a Red Sox/Rangers game.

#11 Bob Dylan

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 02:29 PM

The Area is called "The West End", it's sort fo a Mini-Boubon Street type Tourist Area! The Light Rail (DART)will also take you to Deep Ellum out by the Fairgrounds/Cotton Bowl where there are Blues Clubs, Resturants etc.(it's the old Black Party Area from the bad ole" Segregation Days) Besides the JFK Museum and Dealy Plaza theres not much in downtown Dallas, it's pretty deserted @ night! Take DART to the City Center Underground Station where McKinney Street has a Free Trolley and lots of Upscale Shopping/ Resturants/Bars etc.And the TRE will get you to/from Fort Worth but it doesnt run on Sundays!
 
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#12 Engine58

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 11:01 AM

Excellent.

Thanks

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#13 RobertB

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 11:36 AM

Here's a good deal for anyone spending the weekend in DFW with the family. The "Regional" bus/rail pass, which costs $10 for a day pass, now covers an *entire* family of four (two adults, two kids) on Saturdays through the summer.  Details are here: New regional family pass means special Saturday savings. The Regional pass gets you on any train or bus in Dallas, Fort Worth, or Denton - including the TRE between Dallas and Fort Worth, and the A-Train between Dallas and Denton. Note that the inter-city trains don't run on Sunday, and this special fare is only good on Saturday.

 

For reference, here's the current (2013) fare structure. They've simplified it - there's no more "local" vs. "express", except for the #282 special service to the city of Mesquite, which isn't a member of the transit agency. The new fares raised local and dropped express fares, but that would have violated the contract with Mesquite.

 

Day pass:

Local $5.00

Regional $10.00

 

Two-hour pass (There is no "single ride" fare any more!):

Local $2.50

Regional $5.00

 

Mid-day pass (unlimited travel 9:30-2:30)

Local $1.75

Regional $3.50

 

7-day pass:

Local $25.00

Regional $50.00

 

Other options (like Reduced fares, and the Mesquite fares) are detailed at http://www.dart.org/fares/fares.asp


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