Dallas (DART) Light Rail:
Cost of Long Term Debt:
$51 Million Extra per Day of Traffic Reduction

On August 12, 2000, voters in the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) district will vote on whether to allow DART to issue 30 year bonds to advance construction of light rail lines by 4.7 years. The additional cost of long term versus short term borrowing would be approximately $3.1 billion in interest charges. The long term borrowing option would produce higher ridership levels only for the interim 4.7 years of construction advancement.

Based upon DART and North Central Texas Council of Governments data and projections, it is estimated that opening the remaining DART light rail lines will reduce traffic congestion by the equivalent of approximately 50 days of traffic growth in the Dallas (as opposed to Dallas-Fort Worth) area. This means that the traffic volume level that would be reached on June 30, 2020 without light rail would be postponed as a result of light rail to August 19, 2020.

Traffic Volume and Air Pollution Levels Reached on this Day without Light Rail June 30, 2020
Would be Reached Instead on this Day as a result of Light Rail August 19, 2020
Days of Traffic Growth that Nullify Light Rail's Traffic Reduction Impact: 50
Cost per Day: Long Term Bonding $143,000,000
Extra Cost per Day: Long Term Bonding $51,000,000

The additional interest cost attributable to long term borrowing would be the equivalent of $51,000,000 per day of traffic reduction. The calculation method is shown below.

New Annual Light Rail Trips 2000-2020 30,298,000 DART Projection
Annual Light Rail Passenger Miles 244,500,000 Average Trip Length increased 50 percent to 8 miles
Estimated Weekday Passenger Miles 815,000 Annual divided by 300
Auto Driver Diversion Rate 35.5% DART Survey: Assumes 0.5 Driver Car Pool Ratio
Light Rail Transfer from Drivers: Vehicle Miles 289,000 Weekday Passenger Miles times Auto Driver Diversion Rate
Annual Daily Increase in Roadway Vehicle Miles 1,805,000 Estimated using North Central Texas Council of Governments Annual Projection (1995-2020)
Light Rail Attributable Reduction Relative to Traffic Growth Rate 13.8% Light Rail Transfer Divided by Total Travel
Days of Traffic Volume Increase Transfered to Light Rail 50.4 Percentage Reduction times 365 (days in year)
Capital Cost per Day of Traffic Volume Reduction $72,000,000 Days of Traffic Volume Reduction Divided by Light Rail Capital Cost
Capital and Debt Service Cost per Day of Traffic Volume Reduction: Long Term Financing $143,000,000  
Capital and Debt Service Cost per Day of Traffic Volume Reduction: Short Term Financing $92,000,000  
Additional Cost per Day of Traffic Volume Reduction: Long Term v. Short Term Financing $51,000,000  

(c) 2000 www.publicpurpose.com --- Wendell Cox Consultancy --- Permission granted to use with attribution.
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