Thursday, September 20, 2012 , Updated 2:10 p.m., September 20, 2012
Map out your DART plan to get to the State Fair of Texas
This year, depend on Dallas' public transportation system to get you to the gates, and on time.
Flickr user TPorter2006
DALLAS The final countdown to the State Fair of Texas has begun and North Texans know that means serious business, like which of the epic fried foods to try, how to catch the Chinese Lantern Festival and Kevin Costner’s performance in one visit, or how to swing enough days off work to make that season pass worth it.
The most important arrangement, however, is how to get to Fair Park. If you don't want to drive your own vehicle, or don't have one, DART has it covered. From the first days that Big Tex opens his arms to the crowds to the final days marked by the traditional Red River Rivalry and State Classic football games, the city’s public transportation is making it easier than ever to make the trek to Fair Park. Here is your ultimate guide to freight hopping this festival season.
How to get there
As a rule of thumb, remember that the DART Green Line takes riders to one of two stations located at Fair Park. The entrance to the State Fairgrounds is at the Fair Park stop while the entrance to The Cotton Bowl is at the MLK Jr. platform. The State Fair is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and all trains will cease operation at midnight. The Green Line can be accessed in many ways, with connections spanning from Denton to Irving and even Fort Worth.
Southbound travelers coming from Plano, Richardson, and North Dallas can take the Red Line or the Orange Line all the way to downtown Dallas and switch trains to the Green at the Pearl/Arts District station.
Southbound travelers from Carrollton and Farmers Branch can hop directly on the Green Line. (NOTE: If you’re coming from Denton, the A-train connects with DART on the Green at the
North Carrollton/Frankford Trinity Mills station.)
Eastbound travelers from Irving, Las Colinas, and the surrounding areas can use the brand-new Orange Line, departing from Belt Line, and transfer to the Green Line at Bachman station. The Orange has sequential stops at North Lake College, the Irving Convention Center, the Las Colinas Urban Center, and the University of Dallas.
Eastbound travelers from Fort Worth are able to take the Trinity Railway Express directly to the Green Line at Victory station in downtown Dallas.
Northbound travelers from South Dallas and Cockrell Hill can take the Red or Blue Line to West End station and switch to the Green Line from there.
Westbound from Lakewood, travelers take the Green Line all the way.
See a full map of DART rails here.
DART spokesman Mark Ball said fair attendees need not worry about overcrowding or train delays, as the public transit system improved aspects of its schedule in recent years. For instance, the three-year-old Green Line runs on a circular pattern (contrary to its first year in use) that gives DART the ability to add more trains and diminishes travel time by cutting through the organization’s maintenance yard. The addition, the Orange Line will also alleviate crowds at the most heavily traveled stations, since less people will be commuting to downtown. Even on Columbus Day -- the fair’s second busiest day in terms of foot traffic -- Ball assures transit will be running smoothly.
“We are constantly reminded of 2009 when the Green Line was first in existence and everyone wanted to ride it,” said Ball referring to the year some attendees had to wait up to two hours for a train. “What we learned was the public wants to ride public transit … we learned our lesson and I can honestly say we’ve been very successful since.”
Fair goers can sign up to receive email updates about fair service, schedules, and issues at dart.org/statefair. Day passes for DART can be purchased at any train station kiosk for $4 if you’re traveling within Dallas city limits, $7 if you’re transferring from a from trains like the Trinity Railway Express, or $10 if you’re coming from the fringes of the train system. A combined State Fair and DART pass can be purchased for $17 at any Kroger. Parking on-site at the State Fair costs $15.
Texas vs. Oklahoma weekend
For the weekend of October 13 when the Red River Rivalry comes to town, DART is ramping up service with more trains, smaller wait times, and more resources. For starters, Ball said there will be volunteers at each station four and a half hours prior to kick off selling DART tickets so that lines at the kiosks stay short and no one has to rush to make their train. Both Longhorns and Sooners can follow the directions above to get into Dallas proper, though there are many more options for travel to the Cotton Bowl. DART is providing buses at nine of the busiest train stations — Victory, Bachman, Bush Turnpike, Spring Valley, Forest Lane, Park Lane, Mockingbird, Pearl/Arts District, and Trinity Mills — to transport football fans who just cannot wait to get to the game.
“At the moment, we don’t know when kick off is going to be, so I can’t give exact times,” said Ball. “But people trickle to the over four hours. So if you allow two hours to travel to the game, you may not be able to use the buses and one hour is just not enough time. You probably won’t make it.”
Fans are welcome to park their cars at any DART station, but will be charged $2 at the Parker Road and Carrollton/Frankford stations at the northern most point of the Red Line and Green Line, respectively. Social media also plays a role this weekend, as game attendees can get momentary updates about train delays by following @dartmedia on Twitter or by text message (text DARTTXOU to 41411 on game day).
State Fair Classic
- Cotton Bowl
1300 Robert B. Cullum Boulevard
On October 6, Prairie View A&M and Grambling State universities will duke it out at The Cotton Bowl in the Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic. Ball notes that this weekend will be much less crowded then its successor, so no bus services will be available. Follow one of the directions above to find out which lines are appropriate for your journey.
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