Plano’s View of Cotton Belt Rail: “We could probably buy each of those riders a Tesla for what we are paying in taxes”



[Editor’s Note: Candy Evans is the founder and publisher of and is now running for Dallas City Council in District 11. The opinions expressed in this column are her own.]

My announcement that I am running for Dallas City Council District 11 (and running this blog, of course, too!) has brought out some very interesting and supportive emails. I asked to publish this one, from Beth Carruth in Plano. She is not in my District, in fact she doesn’t even live in Dallas, but she has some strong views on the Cotton Belt line that is being pushed by my incumbent opponent, Lee Kleinman. Lee believes the Cotton Belt line is needed because of the density in the area:

But Dallas City Council member Lee Kleinman, who chairs that city’s transportation committee, said the population density in the northern part of the region and a lack of rail service between two far-flung north-south lines warrants rail service on the Cotton Belt.

If you need some catching up, the Cotton Belt will be a SINGLE line, so you won’t see another train zipping by going opposite way, unless you are at a station. This is cheaper: about $1 billion versus $2.9 billion, and the track would be “fast-tracked” to get it up and running faster. But the single line would also slow things down. One guy I intend to talk with is Carrollton mayor Matthew Marchant, who I bet is related to Kenny.

Single-tracking the Cotton Belt is one reason that Carrollton Mayor Matthew Marchant opposes plans to fast track rail service on the line. He prefers bus rapid transit in the corridor.

“Single track is essentially pointless – you get ‘rail’ but only 30-minute [frequency] and any issue on the track and service is totally disrupted,” Marchant said. “All of the existing light rail lines are double tracked.”

Lee is right: there is a lot of population density in these areas, but Beth says stations are not where the stations will be:

I’m glad you are running for City Council. Regarding the Cotton Belt Rail line, not everyone is thrilled about it up here in Plano. It only has two stations, and they are in Far East Plano. The corporate travelers are located in far west Plano, near the tollway, so they have to backtrack with a 35 minute drive east to take the Plano train to the airport as the train takes them right by their homes they originally left. Wrong place for the only station! Additionally, it is a single track train which will impede frequency. Plano taxpayers are already paying $70M a year for the line to downtown Dallas and the Plano ridership is ridiculously low. We could probably buy each of those riders a Tesla for what we are paying in taxes.

I have always read when it comes to mass transit that you should work inside and then out. Downtown Dallas needs to get their mass transit in comprehensive order and then expand on a successful experience. This includes security personnel on trains and stations along with cameras. As the system expands, they ought to use the highway and main roads as their transit map with more hubs and intersecting lines like the Paris metro which is far superior to London’s Tube.

As it stands now, even when I took a train downtown, it still didn’t get me where I wanted to go downtown. And the trains from the burbs are slow. SLOW!
Beth Carruth

As always, very interested to know your opinion on this. I’m thinking, one billion for a single rail line that looks like a ghost car? Um, not feeling it.

2 Comment

  • During rush hour the RedLine is full of Planomites by the time it reaches the Forest Lane station. Plano people fill it up. I know because I used to take the train had to stand from Forest to Downtown. They are getting more than their money’s worth if a Dallas commuter cannot even get a seat at 8AM.

  • From the current Jerry Brown bullet train fiasco to the Morrison-Knudsen 1990’s bankruptcy and a lot in between, this kind of project is notorious for cost overruns and construction delays to the point that you really have to question the fiscal competence of politician proponents. With Kleinman, however, you are actually dealing with a pattern of misjudgment given his failure to respond to the numerous red flag “investments” by the police and fire pension fund as cited in the DMN article appearing around the time he assumed office.
    We really need change at city hall and, based on the record, Kleinman is the last guy I want making decisions about where my tax money is spent.