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Thread: Dallas: Mckinney Ave. Trolley

  1. #1

    Default Dallas: Mckinney Ave. Trolley


    The McKinney Ave. Trolley is a remarkable story of public/private cooperation. The line connects the Arts District adjacent to Downtown Dallas with the shops and nightlife of the Uptown neighborhood. The entire line utilizes city streets, and the operation runs like a real city streetcar, providing transportation for sightseers and local residents alike. The majority of the line is double-tracked, with a loop arrangement on one end, and a section of single track on the Downtown end. The operation unites a dedicated group of trolley enthusiasts with the local business community, who together have received strong backing from the City of Dallas.

    The origins of the line are traced back to the early 1980s and the idea of a local restauranteur to operate trolleys using original trolley tracks still intact under layers of paving along McKinney Ave. In 1983, the non-profit McKinney Ave. Transit Authority (MATA) was founded and began to pursuing funding and acquiring suitable rolling stock. In the summer of 1984, the city of Dallas endorsed a 1.9 million dollar plan for a 1.3 mile line, which included $200,000 from the City, $400,000 from local merchants, and 1.3 Million from UMTA. As the project progressed, it increased in scope to a 2.8 mile line with a 5.9 million dollar price tag. Ultimately, local businesses and other supporters contributed 3.25 million to the project, and UMTA provided two grants totaling 2.5 million.

    To operate the service, MATA acquired two relatively complete cars, one from Portugal and the other from Australia, and also restored two Dallas carbodies. Daily service was inaugurated in 1989, and the line's initial months of operation were extraordinarily successful. However, a downturn of business after the initial wave of enthusiasm forced the MATA to devote more resources to the important business of marketing their new line. This began a successful collaboration with the convention and tourist agencies of the area, and with businesses along the line.

    The higher than anticipated costs of operating the system also made for a rough financial ride after the initial ridership surge was over. Originally operated with a paid staff, In 1991 operation of the line was turned over to a supporting non-profit group, an arrangement which exists today. The line today has a paid Chief Operating Officer, and a paid office manager, with all other positions filled by volunteers. To help provide continuing support and reinforce their ties to the local business community, a local Public Improvement District was incorporated, providing MATA with an additional $150,000 in annual support.

    In 1996, Dallas opened its new Light Rail system, and MATA began planning for expansion projects which would connect both ends of the vintage trolley service with light rail stations. The northern expansion opened in June of 2002, at which time MATA began operation as Dallas Area Rapid Transit's (DART) "M-Line Streetcar", offering free shuttle service seven days a week. The new operation is underwritten by DART, as well as the Uptown and Dowtown Public Improvement Districts.

  2. #2
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Manhattan - South Village


    Looking good - a real success story.

  3. #3
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New York City


    I take back several of the nasty things I've ever said about Texas.

    Now if only you guys could work on the crime problems in certain parts of Houston and Dallas...

  4. #4


    The M-line is cool, fun, and free, but not very practical. The cars are small, slow, and crowded. Uptown has grown so much that it deserves an expedient lightrail system of its own.

    The biggest problem with Uptown Dallas is that I-35 acts as a huge schism between Uptown and Downtown Dallas. Big Dig, anyone?

  5. #5


    It looks like an over-nostalgic throwback incongruously aswim in a hostile environment.

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by czsz
    It looks like an over-nostalgic throwback incongruously aswim in a hostile environment.
    I see nothing incongruous in the above pictures, and certainly not a hostile environment. The whole project was inexpensive, relative to what others have paid for such a line, and if the cars are crowded it surely must be successful. They just need a few more cars.

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