I rode the Green Line for a couple years and one thing I learned: DART Rail's primary focus is building new rail lines. Operation of existing rail lines is an afterthought.
It looks as though folks in Dallas are beginning to discover what Portlanders could have told them long ago. But the observation about the obsession with building more rail, while accurate, is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg; editors at the Dallas Morning News are appalled - appalled, I say - that their multibillion-dollar "system" ground to a halt during their recent spate of inclement weather (known as man-made global warming, according to some respondents). The train in the photo here is stopped dead on the tracks; its readerboard says "not in service" (click to enlarge).
For Portland-area residents, it comes as no surprise that the trains stopped running because snow/ice; we've seen it all before. The Agency always blames ice on the overhead power lines, even when - as was the case a few years back in Portland - crews were dispatched with spud-bars to remove a few inches of snow that somehow got wedged between the tracks and the substrate, stopping the two-car trains.
And of course, we're very familiar with the obsession to build new rail, even as they cannibalize bus services to pay for rail operations (but not enough to properly maintain the light rail cars).
This sort of thing happens everywhere the politicians decide to stuff cash into developers' pockets while catering to construction unions - in other words, everywhere light rail's built. St. Pete, New York, London - everywhere. If your car door opened on the freeway, it's a safe bet that there'd be a recall, whether voluntary or involuntary. Not so with light rail, though; they just take the car back to the shop and actually do some maintenance while hoping it doesn't happen again any time soon. Heck, they may even clean it.
Because riding light rail is on the "honor system", a lot of folks don't pay. Actually, I even have a photo of a coyote who boarded at Cascade Station and curled up in a window seat. He didn't bother anybody, of course, because the "train" was - unsurprisingly - carrying no passengers.
And as several would-be passengers can attest, there's nothing quite like having a light rail "train" come to a dead stop, unable to move, in the middle of a bridge over a river in the dead of summer. It's all just part of the Portland Experience, really; something you can't really achieve by simply riding around on a bicycle. No, for the True Portland Experience, you have to ride TriMet. We've been considering tacking a surcharge onto hotel room rates and applying part of that to a "free" TriMet ticket to encourage timid out-of-towners to board.
What? No, we won't provide defensive weapons; we'll rent them to you, though.