I’m no railfan (at least I don’t claim to be) but transportation infrastructure is just damn cool, especially when it’s in your own backyard. The first time I used light rail was traveling to my high school graduation, to the now demolished Reunion Arena. The Red Line had just opened an extension to Plano that previous December. I took the DART rail all the way to Union Station, and walked through an underground walkway, popping up at graduation. Pretty neat. Since then the Blue Line has been formally opened and expanded, and two blocks from my last house, the Green Line opened up. Now the Orange Line is scheduled to open here in 2012. The green line is supposed to expand to Carrolton, where it’ll meet up with Denton’s “A-Train”, taking students and citizens north across the lake into the core of downtown Denton, and a bike ride from TWU and UNT.
Anyways googling about it I came across this interesting image. It’s all the current passenger rail, plus future planned routes and expansion options. I can’t really see the rail system getting any larger than this though. Click for larger:
Click for larger. The black is the existing, or at least “paid for” sections of rail. The red is the suggested areas. Of note, is the red McKinney and Frisco lines. Neither of those cities are currently DART members, and McKinney only marginally qualifies for DART service, as the rail line would have to cut through Allen, which does not want to be part of DART, and recently Plano has made some minor in inquiries into pulling out of DART. I can see a need for rail service to Frisco, but barring some significant federal grants I don’t see there being enough ridership in McKinney to warrant 20 additional miles of rail. The density and the population just aren’t there.
Also of interest is the “Cotton Belt Line”, which would run from south central Plano, through Richardson (stopping at UTD), the Addison Transit Station (+ Addison Airport, and Addison Field) before terminating at DFW, along with several other stops. West from DFW and the Western terminus of the Orange Line the Cotton Belt Line would extend through the rapidly expanding northern suburbs of Fort Worth and down through downtown Fort Worth. I find it rather unlikely that we’ll see most of the other extensions built out in our lifetime, although it would be interesting to take a train ride from Cleburn or Waxahachie all the way north to Denton, Frisco or McKinney. Maybe support for these lines will muster as the price of gas skyrockets here as we dig our way out of this recession.