Using big city public transportation is key to our family travel budget. Besides just being pretty fun for kids to experience the ride and the scenery along the route, navigating the transit maps and the ticket options and payment systems becomes a lesson in geography, math, and technology.
My kids are teens now and very adept at reading maps, understanding bus and train lines, and using computerized kiosks. I’m happy to allow them to jump ahead of me to figure out the ticket vending machine, quickly press a few buttons, and produce our tickets. I tell them, “I can do it, it would just take me longer.”
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Taking Light Rail from Downtown Dallas to the Airport:
I had the pleasure of visiting Dallas for the first time and found the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) Rail system very easy to use. We took light rail from our downtown Dallas hotel to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). We allowed plenty of time padding to the trip, knowing it is a long ride, nearly an hour. But it was a pleasant ride, clean and comfortable. And on time.
First, we walked up to the ticket vending machine at the rail station nearest to our hotel. The machines are found at all DART stations. We bought a 2-hour pass, which are ready for immediate use. Ticket passes for the day or week need to be time stamped by the machine upon first use. The machines accept cash and credit cards. Keep your tickets and show them if you are asked by a fare enforcement officer. (We were not asked on our trip.)
**Families with strollers, wheelchairs, or luggage have easy access in the no-stair, “low-floor” center section of each car.**
Arriving at DFW Airport by Light Rail:
Upon arrival at the airport, we exited our light rail car, and followed the signs (and the other passengers who we hoped knew the routine) to the bus stop for the Terminal Link shuttle. The shuttle then takes people to the four terminals. Instead of the shuttle bus, travelers may first go through security, and then catch a tram to their terminal.
The only uncomfortable part of our trip to the airport that day was the heat. I’m from Seattle, a place with mild temperatures most of the year. I’m not used to Dallas heat! The tiny bit of walking between the light rail and the shuttle but stop was too hot for me. But the light rail cars and the shuttle bus were comfortable inside. We enjoyed the experience and would definitely recommend it – easy and budget-friendly.
Resources to Help You Plan Your Dallas Transportation:
1. DART website page of Tools and Apps:
Includes links to trip planner programs, assistance contacts, nearest stop finders, and other info.
2. DART website page for 6 Easy Steps to Riding a DART Train:
Includes details and photos of a machine and the low-floor spot of each car, as well as links to details about each line, fare options such as reduced rates for children, free for children under age 5, and info about the Red, Blue, Green, and Orange lines that run to various areas. There is also a link to stroller guidelines.
3. InterContinental Hotels Group blog page about Dallas:
Description and links to 5 Dallas year-round attractions and things to do: notable museums, sports venues, the zoo, and the arboretum.
4. U.S. News and World Report article about Dallas transportation:
Describes the freeways and their rush hour limitations, plus the light rail, bus, and trolley options. Also includes links to those options plus to highlights you might want to see, such as the Aquarium or Sculpture Center, after taking any particular mode of transportation.
5. Greater Greater Washington, a Washington D.C. community website, examines the Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail system:
This 2015 article states that DART is the country’s longest rail system, “stretching 90 miles across north Texas”. The article describes the land use surrounding the rail system, its ridership, and its planned extensions.
6. Dallas Fort Worth North Texas Child website, Dallas Things to Do:
This article was last updated in 2014 but the description of how to use DART, and the links to fun and educational things to do with kids by DART or Trolley are timeless.