Gary C. Thomas, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) president/executive director, has informed the DART Board of Directors of his intention to retire from his position after almost 20 years of leadership. The board will initiate a search process to identify a successor for Mr. Thomas.
"It has been my privilege and honor to be part of Dallas Area Rapid Transit for this moment in time. I have seen many "firsts" throughout the years and have been able to work with many dedicated board members and team members as DART has evolved into an indispensable resource for our residents throughout North Texas and beyond," said Thomas. "I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to our current management team and our almost 3,700 employees, as well as all of the DART team over the last 20 years that without whom our shared success would not have been possible. I'm extremely proud of what we have built with help from our communities and elected officials with whom we share a vision for our future. I have complete confidence that DART will continue to improve the quality of life in North Texas."
Thomas joined DART in 1998 as the senior vice president of project management with almost 20 years of experience as an engineer and architect, consulting for national and international projects including DART projects going back to 1986. He was appointed as president/executive director in 2001 when DART's rail system was only 20-miles long and led the agency to provide North Texas residents with the longest light rail network in the country at 93-miles.
Under his leadership, Thomas forged the agency into an award-winning transit model, providing residents across DART's 700-mile service area with a world-class public transit network. Through Thomas' leadership, DART has frequently defined what a modern 21st century transit system can be.
Thomas directed DART's commitment to sustainability and conservation with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing clean, alternative transportation options that help decrease the number of cars on the road. This included a focus on renewable energy and the transition of the entire DART bus fleet to the more environmentally sensitive natural gas fuel rather than diesel. DART was also an early proponent and adopter of electric buses, adding 7 buses to the fleet in 2018.
As a champion of the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) service model at DART, which provides travelers with the ability to plan, book and pay for the mobility solution that works best for their needs, through the award-winning GoPass App, he led the effort to make DART's multimodal transit system flexible, reliable, affordable and more available to everyone by developing new technologies and services including fare equity, cash to mobile options and GoLink.
With a focus on ensuring that DART continue to serve as both a mobility and economic engine for the long-term benefit of the entire region, Thomas developed polices that engaged development projects near DART light rail stations, generating billions of dollars in revenue, taxes and jobs for the local economy while enhancing mobility opportunities that improved the quality of life of North Texas residents.
"While there will always be more work to do, I know that we have the right team in place to turn our vision into reality, improving the lives of our riders by providing safe, timely transit solutions," explained Thomas. "Our ongoing platform extension project on DART's Red and Blue rail lines will allow us to move up to 33 percent more passengers throughout our busiest operating times. The D2 Subway project, our second light rail alignment through downtown Dallas, has moved into 30% Preliminary Engineering. We've expanded our GoLink on-demand service, which includes our partnership with UberPool. The Silver Line Regional Rail Project, DART's first east-to-west commuter rail service, will provide residents with improved mobility, accessibility and system linkages to major employment, population and activity centers in the northern part of the DART Service Area. And of course, the DARTzoom Bus Network Redesign project will define the future of bus service for the entire service area, providing enormous positive transit opportunities by aligning service to meet the needs of our riders now and in the future."
"On behalf of the DART Board of Directors, I want to thank Gary for his service to the agency, the member cities of DART, and the residents of North Texas," said Paul N. Wageman, chair of the DART Board of Directors. "Through his leadership and dedication, he has earned the respect of city leaders, the DART board, its employees and his peers in the industry for his passion and innovation. Gary is leaving DART in a strong position, as the quality of the management and operations teams has never been better. We are grateful to Gary for his leadership of DART and his friendship. We wish him the best as he embarks on this chapter of his life."