Trinity Railway Express
Dallas / Fort Worth, TX
During a trip through Dallas in 2010, I explored some of the new rail transit infrastructure there. My journey began with a rental car dropoff at DFW airport and a ride on the Trinity Railway Express into downtown Dallas' Union Station. The TRE opened in 1996 as the first commuter rail line in the southwest, with service from Irving to Union Station. Service was expanded west to Fort Worth in 2001. The TRE provides service to DFW through the CenterPort station, which marks the junction between the Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority. During off-peak hours, TRE uses Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDC) that date from the 1950s.
Despite the appearances, using the TRE to get to or from the airport is surprisingly difficult. It's prime mission is as a commuter line (on freight rail tracks) and attempting to construct a new routing through the airport was likely considered much too expensive, if it was even considered at all. The rail line is about six miles south of DFW and getting to the station requires about 30 minutes total travel time on three separate buses: a shuttle from the rental car facility to a terminal, a bus from the terminal to the Remote South parking center, and then a bus from Remote South to the station. In addition, trains run at 90-minute intervals on weekday afternoons, adding considerable waiting time on an unenclosed platform unless you happen to be extremely lucky in your scheduling. The train itself requires about 30 minutes into downtown Dallas. While it's hard to beat the $3.50 fare, if your time is even remotely valuable, you are probably better off taking a SuperShuttle van or a taxi.