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Why is a bright red, electric bus named ‘The Dash’ driving around Fort Worth?

Fort Worth transit agency unveils electric Dash buses

Trinity Metro plans to unveil a new service known as the Dash, which will connect downtown and the West 7th area. The service starts Sept. 22, but the bright red buses are already on the street for driver training.
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Trinity Metro plans to unveil a new service known as the Dash, which will connect downtown and the West 7th area. The service starts Sept. 22, but the bright red buses are already on the street for driver training.

This summer, folks in Fort Worth may spot a bright red, electric bus known as the Dash making the rounds on the streets.

For many, the obvious question might be: What the heck is the Dash?

The Dash is a new zero-emissions service that Trinity Metro, Fort Worth’s regional transit agency, plans to operate every 15 minutes daily from the Fort Worth Central transit station downtown to cultural district attractions, including UNT Health Science Center and the new Dickies Arena.

Although Dash service won’t be open to the public until Sept. 22, Trinity Metro has received the first of four buses that will operate the route. And starting this week, drivers are being trained to use the new all-electric, battery-powered vehicles, and are making daily runs along the route.

The training is expected to continue throughout the summer.

For bus drivers, the Dash buses handle in much the same way as the rest of Trinity Metro’s fleet, which operates on compressed natural gas. But one key difference is that the Dash buses are much quieter than the other buses — and that presents special challenges for drivers in areas with pedestrians.

The buses are so quiet that passers-by might not hear them coming, said Trinity Metro president and chief executive officer Bob Baulsir. Drivers will have to be even more cautious than usual, in case a pedestrian accidentally steps into the path of a bus.

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Trinity Metro chairman Scott Mahaffey (right) and Fort Worth Council members Ann Zadeh and Carlos Flores board The Dash. Gordon Dickson

But that lack of noise also is a tremendous benefit. The interiors of the bus are much quieter than the rest of the Trinity Metro fleet, making it much easier for riders to enjoy their trip.

“It forces people to look at each other and talk,” Baulsir quipped Tuesday while taking City Council members and other dignitaries on a trip in the new bus.

The buses, which are made by New Flyer, also feature amenities such as wood-like tile floors and USB charger ports under seats.

The buses, which go by the model name New Flyer Xcelsior CHARGE, can go about 130 miles on a single charge, said David Cormack, New Flyer business segment director.

The buses are built in Alabama and shipped to Fort Worth on a flat bed trailer, Baulsir said.

So how much will it cost to ride? A one-way ticket will be $2, and a day pass for unlimited rides will be $5.

The Dash will operate Sunday through Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and will run even later on Fridays and Saturdays. On weekend nights, the service will run until 12:30 a.m.

The later hours will make Dash a good option for patrons interested in visiting the West 7th area during crowded weekends, when traffic and parking along West Seventh Street can be a real problem.

Although the buses cost more up front than traditional vehicles — about $837,600 each — the vehicles can save transit agencies tens of thousands of dollars in operating costs, according to New Flyer.

Also, Trinity Metro isn’t paying for Dash service all by itself. Organizations that have agreed to help with a three-year financial commitment include: city of Fort Worth; Blue Zones Project – Fort Worth; Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth; and Visit Fort Worth.

According to Trinity Metro, other Dash investors include the Kimbell Art Museum, Modern Art Museum Fort Worth, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Crockett Row, Museum Place and Sheraton Downtown Fort Worth.

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.

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