The gray circle shows a 4.3 mile trip from the center of zip code 75228 (Image courtesy of DART).

After years of advocacy by the East Dallas Senior Coalition for more transportation options in their neighborhood, DART is launching a new taxi voucher program for seniors and those with disabilities in zip codes 75217 and 75228.

Neighbors Ellen Childress, her husband John and Desi Tanner and others  have been working to increase travel options for many of the seniors in East Dallas who are homebound or can’t make it to the nearest bus stop. Some areas of neighborhoods east of Ferguson Road are in what is called a transportation desert, where there are no fixed bus routes within a quarter mile of an area. According to DART, there are 10,923 residents age 55 and over in zip code 75228 alone.

After several meetings with neighborhood groups and involvement from state representative Eric Johnson, DART annoucned at a meeting at the White Rock Hills Library on Tuesday that they are launching a voucher program in East Dallas that will subsidize transportation for senior citizens and those with disabilities. Starting in October, neighbors in those zip codes who are older than 65 or have a qualifying disability can register by mail, phone or online for the program and receive a DART Rides debit card.

For every dollar that a resident puts on a card, the city will match it with three dollars. The maximum that can be added is $25 per month for a total value of $100. Whatever doesn’t get spent rolls over to the next month. Customers can use that debit card by scheduling trips by phone an hour before they need to leave, and a taxi company that is contracted by the city will come pick them up and take them wherever they want to go. The program runs between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m., and the trips must either begin or end in the City of Dallas. Residents can add up to $200 unmatched funds on the cards as well.

On average, a 4.3 mile trip costs $12.64 in a Dallas taxi, but the program would allow registered travelers to make the trip for just $3.16 of their money, thanks to the subsidy.

Similar programs already exist in northern suburbs with DART, but this is the first such program in Dallas proper. The program is part of a two year grant, and if it is successful and utilized, DART representatives say it will be built into future DART budgets.  

For a process that started in 2014, this has been a long time coming for some neighbors. “For the first time in two years, I will drive home with a very good feeling,” one resident commented at the end of the meeting.

Registration opens in October, and DART plans to begin the rides on October 29. To register and learn more about DART Rides, click here.

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