DART's New D-Link Service Aims To Better Connect Downtown and Oak Cliff — For Free.

Those who spent any time in Downtown Dallas in the '70s and '80s will surely remember the iconic pink, bunny-eared and whiskered “hop-a-buses” that shuttled patrons around downtown free of charge.

After DART took over the city's public transportation in 1984, the buses were eventually phased out. Now, though, as the city prepares for a new streetcar line linking Downtown and Oak Cliff, Dallas City Council has approved a partnership with DART on a two-year pilot-program that will again provide free bus services, both throughout downtown and along the proposed streetcar route.

Starting Monday, the new D-Link service — which will, in a nod to the past, feature pink-accented buses — will connect downtown and North Oak Cliff with trips every 15 minutes between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., providing service to all the usual suspects as it does — the West End and the Sixth Floor Museum, the Central Business District, Victory Park, Uptown, the Bishop Arts District, the Kessler Theater and the Texas Theatre. At 6 p.m. each evening, D-Link trips will expand to include the Cedars area as well.

While the buses won't add any new territory to DART's service area, their frequency should be a huge plus. Many of the routes that D-Link retraces run as little as once an hour at night — so the shuttles should shave wait-times significantly for commuters and those planning a public-transit supported night out alike.

But D-Link service isn't the only change that goes into effect on November 4. Most notably, DART will also, for the first time, expand service on one of its routes to 24 hours-a-day. Route 703, the shuttle that connects Parkland Hospital to the Southwestern Medical District rail station, will now run all day, every day. It's a small step for sure — you'll still turn into a DART pumpkin anywhere else in the city at a little after midnight — but it does give us hope that maybe, just maybe, we'll eventually be able stay out later that the average high schooler on a DART-assisted date.

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