Friday, February 8, 2013

Totally Texas -- Ding, ding, ding goes the trolley

I’ve mentioned the McKinney Avenue trolley system in Dallas as a way to get to attractions on the edge of downtown and uptown. To be sure these posts are kid-tested and approved, my daughter and I took the boys for a trolley ride during a school holiday.

How would six-year-olds already blasé about air travel react to nineteenth century-style transportation?

They loved it. Approved of the leisurely pace and wide windows that let them take in Uptown’s bustling scene. Took to the conductor-drivers who love the cars and love seeing other people enjoy them. Got a thrill out of dropping a bill or two into the collection boxes. (Run by the nonprofit McKinney Avenue Transit Authority, the trolleys are free of charge, but expressions of gratitude, monetary or not, are always appreciated.)

Maybe most of all, the boys liked getting dropped off close to other places they love -- the Dallas Museum of Art and Klyde Warren Park.

The trolleys run daily, with separate weekday and weekend and holiday We took a DART train to the CityPlace station, which connects with the trolley line through either Red or Blue DART lines, and waited at a nearby covered bus stop. Although the trolley is free, normal fees apply to DART tickets. Trolleys leave from their McKinney Avenue Plaza starting point at approximately fifteen minute intervals from 7 a.m. to 9:35 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 10:50 p.m. Fridays. For information, see

Although Dallas had many streetcars from the late nineteenth through early twentieth
centuries, the lines fell into disuse as automobile traffic increased. Interest in the trolleys revived with the discovery of original rails in the 1980’s, and the present McKinney Avenue service began on July 22, 1989.

The McKinney Avenue trolleys are all of early twentieth century vintage, although equipped with modern amenities of heating and air-conditioning. We rode Car 369, nicknamed Matilda, built for an Australian system. Car 186 “The Green Dragon” and Car 363 “Petunia,” however, are original Dallas streetcars -- The Green Dragon built in 1913 and Petunia in 1920. More than half a dozen additional cars are being restored, or await restoration.

On our trip, we got off at the corner of Ross and St. Paul, about halfway through the trolley’s route and across the street from both the Dallas Museum of Art and Klyde Warren. Extension of the trolley system further into downtown, with additional DART connections, are under construction for this year through 2014.

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