Honkin' Mad

How to take Fort Worth’s new TEXRail commuter line to Dallas Love Field Airport

Since the new TEXRail commuter train service opened earlier this month, a lot has been said about how convenient it is to get from many areas in northern Tarrant County to DFW Airport.

But what about Love Field?

The 27-mile TEXRail commuter line can get travelers from downtown Fort Worth to DFW Airport in 51 minutes or less, and that’s handy for the folks who want to fly on American Airlines or other companies that fly out of one of the world’s busiest airports.

It’s even more convenient for riders heading to DFW from North Richland Hills (21 minutes) or Grapevine’s Main Street (only eight minutes).

But many North Texans also fly Southwest Airlines, and other carriers, out of Love Field.

TEXRail can also be used to get to Love Field, although it’s a long train ride — 1 hour, 56 minutes, to be exact — that requires a couple of transfers. But it’s not necessarily stressful or difficult to organize such a trip, and could be an attractive option for those traveling on a budget, or perhaps going on a long trip and not interested in paying for airport parking.

A hypothetical trip leaving downtown Fort Worth’s T&P Station could work this way, based on TEXRail and DART weekday schedules:

8:25 a.m. Depart Fort Worth T&P Station

9:17 a.m. Arrive at DFW Airport Terminal B (lower level). Use a covered, lighted walkway to walk about the length of a football field to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit light-rail station at Terminal A (also lower level).

9:35 a.m. Depart DFW Airport Terminal A on the Orange Line.

10:13 a.m. Arrive at Inwood/Love Field Station. Look for the DART’s Route 524 bus — also known as the “Love Link” — which offers an eight-minute ride to Love Field’s front door. (Buses run every 15 minutes and often are waiting when trains arrive.)

10:21 Arrive at Love Field.

(A traveler wishing to use the above schedule from North Richland Hills could depart Smithfield Station at 8:56 — and make it to Love Field in 1 hour, 26 minutes. From Grapevine’s Main Street, a rider could catch the train at 9:09 a.m and get to Love Field in 1 hour, seven minutes.)

Trinity Metro, Fort Worth’s transit agency, doesn’t yet have statistics on how many TEXRail riders are transferring to DART trains at DFW Airport, spokeswoman Laura Hanna said.

But there is plenty of activity involving riders getting on and off the trains at the airport. On Monday, for example, 1,605 riders boarded TEXRail at the airport and 1,428 riders exited the trains.

Overall, Hanna said in an email, “Our daily ridership average for TEXRail has been about 4,600 so far. With TEXRail going straight to Terminal B, it definitely increases connectivity for travelers.”

For many Tarrant County residents, it actually would be quicker to get to Love Field on the the Trinity Railway Express, another commuter rail line that connects downtown Fort Worth to Dallas and has been in operation since 1996 (arriving in downtown Fort Worth in 2001). It’s possible to take TRE from Fort Worth’s T&P station at 8:21 a.m., arrive at DART’s Victory Station (American Airlines Center) at 9:15 a.m., transfer to the DART Orange Line at 9:27 a.m., arrive at DART’s Inwood/Live Field Station at 9:32 a.m. and arrive at Love Field’s terminal entrance at 9:40 a.m.

Total time: 1 hour, 19 minutes.

Once you’re in Dallas, DART has the benefit of more frequent, and redundant service. For example, travelers who take TRE to Victory Station using the schedule above but for some reason miss the Orange Line train only have to wait five minutes for the Green Line, which also serves Love Field on the same tracks.

But there are drawbacks to TRE.

For one, the service doesn’t run on Sundays — whereas TEXRail is a seven-day-a-week operation.

And with TEXRail there is the promise of tremendous growth in the coming years. TEXRail, which currently runs to DFW Airport hourly, will be adding trains in the coming years for more frequent service.

Also, DART is moving aggressively to extend a new line known as the Cotton Belt from DFW Airport’s Terminal B to Plano possibly by 2022. The Cotton Belt picks up where TEXRail ends, taking passengers further northeast through Metroplex cities such as Addison, Carrollton, North Dallas and Plano.

“Trips between DFW and Love Field aren’t really something we’ve modeled,” DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said in an email. “Each airport generates its own activity but I’m not aware of anything showing significant ridership connecting the two locations. Today the average weekday (DART) ridership at DFW Airport Station is just over 900. We will add more rail service to DFW Airport, via Terminal B, when the Cotton Belt opens in 2022.”

Gordon Dickson joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997. He is passionate about hard news reporting, and his beats include transportation, growth, urban planning, aviation, real estate, jobs, business trends. He is originally from El Paso, and loves food, soccer and long drives.