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An All-Too-Rare Idea to Improve Transit: Put People Who Ride Transit in Charge

It’s hard to improve transit service if the people who oversee transit policy don’t know what makes for good service. And yet, agency boards are often dominated by political hacks with little or no transit expertise — many don’t even know what it’s like to ride the transit systems they oversee.

Dallas is trying something different. To shake things up at DART, the Dallas City Council is appointing a new slate of board members. Long-time board members are being replaced with regular riders, transit advocates, and people with real transit policy expertise.

The editorial board of the Dallas Morning News says the changes are likely to bring about real benefits for riders:

The Dallas City Council’s house-cleaning of DART representatives this week signals a wise pivot to what matters most: Ensuring that the regional transit agency lures new customers and does right by those who rely on its service, yet too often are let down.

The newcomers named on Wednesday are formidable choices, based on their credentials and interviews earlier this month. All of them are frequent Dallas Area Rapid Transit users, and each showed an understanding of the agency as well as the shortcomings that consistently bedevil Dallas residents who must depend 24-7 on the system.

The appointees’ answers reflect fresh, practical ideas for improvements, while long-time board members voiced a relatively hands-off approach to DART accountability.

A key priority for the new board members, reports Brandon Formby at the Texas Tribune, is to focus on improving bus service in the central city instead of far-flung rail expansions.

More recommended reading today: The New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition says a new law will require drivers ed courses to teach students how to drive safely around cyclists and pedestrians. And Systemic Failure offers another example of foreign railcar manufacturers struggling to adhere to America’s bizarre, outdated safety standards.

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