University study shows DART benefits North Texas economy

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DALLAS — Another study has confirmed that investment in commuter rail systems can yield economic benefits for an entire region.

On May 11, researchers with the University of North Texas' Economics Research Group presented a study titled "The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Development near DART Stations" to a meeting of the Urban Land Institute. The results documented that between 2014 and 2015, Dallas Area Rapid Transit's 93-mile light rail system spurred economic investment and has continued to increase the value of properties near light rail stations.

The study, headed by Michael Carroll, compared the increase in value of 27 residential, commercial, and mixed-used properties currently situated or under construction in locations within one-quarter mile of DART's light rail stations. The study concluded that the projects studied have already generated $69 million in state and federal tax revenue, and will account for up to $229 million in total after projects in the planning and construction stages are finished. All tolled, the new projects could infuse up to $7.5 billion dollars into the Dallas-area economy.

Since 1999, according Carroll's study, a total of about $10.8 billion public and private dollars have already been invested in properties on or along DART's light rail system. The study estimates that development near the light rail stations has directly or indirectly spurred the creation of more than 43,000 new jobs and $3 billion in wages.

The University of North Texas has sponsored several previous studies giving additional context to the economic benefits of DART's system. A 1999 study determined that between 1994 and 1998, property values along DART's right-of-way rose approximately 4.5-percent more than properties of similar usage farther away from the tracks.

Some types of properties near the tracks, such as office buildings, rose 23-percent more than those elsewhere. A study released in 2002 determined that properties placed within one-quarter mile of DART's stations experienced the most dramatic increases in property value, and in 2005 the office estimated that properties near the DART's stations had seen investments to the tune of $3.3 billion.  

"Public transportation transforms cities," DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas says in a press release, "It not only provides connections to great destinations; it can be the catalyst for economic growth and community renewal."

DART opened its newest stations located on a three-mile extension of the Blue Line in October 2016. The agency is in the final planning stages of a realignment of the routes through Downtown Dallas and is planning to open a new line linking Dallas' northern suburbs to Dallas-Fort Worth International airport.

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