Las Colinas APT System
Outside the Bell Tower Station.
|Transit type||People mover|
|Number of lines||2|
|Number of stations||4|
|Began operation||June 18, 1989|
|Operator(s)||Dallas County Utility and Reclamation District|
|System length||1.4 mi (2.25 km)|
|Las Colinas APT|
The Las Colinas Area Personal Transit System is a people mover system that serves the Las Colinas area of Irving, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. The system has four passenger stations and a maintenance & control center, and is run by two cars, one for each route. The system uses automated guideway transit technology, although for the moment it is driven manually, and exists primarily for the benefit of office workers and a few local residents.
The Las Colinas APT was envisioned as an automated circulator system for the developing Las Colinas Urban Center. The long range plan called for a total of 5 miles (8 km) of dual lane guideway and 20 stations. The system was to contain 3 inner loops and one outer loop, with passengers transferring between loops at four key interchanges. The community of Las Colinas was founded in 1973, but construction of the APT did not begin until 1979. The first phase construction contained 1.4 miles (2.3 km) of guideway and 4 stations. (As of April 2010[update], Phase 1 remains the only fully constructed and operational track: see Current Operation for more details.)
Although the guideways were in place by 1983, the system was not finalized and opened until 1986, following the purchase of four cars, power and control infrastructure from AEG-Westinghouse, which has since been purchased by Bombardier Transportation. Passenger service began three years later on June 18, 1989, with the first five years of operation to be overseen by the vendor. This was part of a deal that cost $45 million. The system initially operated from 7 a.m. to midnight on weekdays, 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays with a fare of 50 cents per ride. In July 1993, the system was closed due to rising expenses and a lack of envisioned development following the Dallas-area real estate crash. The system was mothballed and expansion plans were put on hold.
Las Colinas saw a revival of fortune towards the latter half of the 1990s, and the system reopened accordingly on December 2, 1996. Although the current system still runs only on a limited basis, the arrival of DART's Orange Line and development in the area has called for expansion. As of June 10th, 2013 the system runs Monday-Friday from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, with no service on weekends.
Since the 1996 reopening, the fare-free system has been run by the Dallas County Utility and Reclamation District. It now runs from 6:00am to 6:00pm on weekdays for the benefit of office workers riding to Bell Tower/Mandalay Canal Station to eat lunch at the restaurants located there, as well as DART passengers boarding at Tower 909.
Phase I, which included part of the outer loop's western section and part of one inner loop, remains the only segment in service. The guideway contains two tracks with space for a third if demand warrants, and is grade-separated for the length of the route. Contrary to popular rumors, the system was never meant to be expanded beyond the Las Colinas Urban Center.
- Track 1 (Red Route) - This route begins at 600 E. Las Colinas Boulevard and ends at Urban Towers.
- Track 2 (Blue Route) - This route begins at 600 E. Las Colinas Boulevard and ends at the Tower on Lake Carolyn and the DART Orange Line Las Colinas Urban Center Station.
- Track 3 - This track begins at Urban Towers and ends at Tower 909. The guideway was constructed but tracks were never installed or in operation.
The four original stations and maintenance center are the only operational stopping points for passengers on the APT system. All stations are elevated and protected from the elements. All stations except for Bell Tower/Mandalay Canal Station are accessed through private office buildings.
- Urban Towers - Tracks 1 and 3, serving the Urban Towers office building at 222 W. Las Colinas Blvd. This serves as the current northern terminus of the system.
- Tower 909 - Tracks 2 and 3, located at 909 Lake Carolyn Parkway. This stop serves the Tower 909 office building and is the eastern terminus of the system. The station includes an elevated pedestrian connection to the DART Orange Line Las Colinas Urban Center Station.
- Bell Tower/Mandalay Canal - Tracks 1 and 2, located above the Mandalay Canal at 27 Mandalay Canal. This is the main and most popular station and serves numerous dining options. Known formally as the Lauren E. McKinney Transit Center.
- 600 Las Colinas Boulevard - Tracks 1 and 2, serving the adjacent office building.
Vehicles & maintenance
Out of the four vehicles purchased in 1986, only two are used on day-to-day service. Each vehicle can carry 45 passengers comfortably: 33 standing and 12 seated. The system is operated manually, with only two trains running as demand dictates. The drivers use a small control panel that is equipped with an emergency and maintenance controls.
The Maintenance and Control Center is where all vehicles are stored. Each train starts its first morning journey here. The control center is manned by an overseer during times of operation.
Plans to expand the system have existed since the inception of the APT. The original plan called for a route that completely circled Lake Carolyn, but DART's Orange Line will now follow the route of the planned eastern section. A number of guideway supports without tracks already exist north of the Urban Towers Station. The Track 2/3 guideway has enough space for two lines, although currently only Track 2 is in operation.
In 2012, the Dallas County Utility and Reclamation District completed a process to expand the system with the arrival of DART's Orange Line, creating an interchange at Tower 909 Station with DART's adjacent Las Colinas Urban Center Station. Additional possible future expansion options considered during this phase of growth include: 
- Building out Track 3, acquiring additional vehicles, automating the system and expanding operational hours.
- Constructing infill stations along existing lines at various locations of development projects.
- Extending Track 1/3 north on existing guideway supports to a planned entertainment district.
- Extending Track 1/2 to South Las Colinas Station for future commuter rail access.
Some, such as Gary N. Bourland, author of Las Colinas: The Inside Story of America's Premier Urban Development, cite cases of the APT System being viewed as an expensive white elephant. It has also been cited as one of the contributors towards the high rate of taxation in the Las Colinas area. However, the Northwest Corridor Major Investment Study - carried out on behalf of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors - referenced the (since completed) integration of the APT system into the DART public transit network, showing that demand remains for the service's continuation and even expansion.
- "Las Colinas Peoplemover (APT)". Jon Bell's Transit Pages.
- "Dallas County Utility and Reclamation District".
- Staff Reporters (June 19, 1989). "A new way to travel". The Dallas Morning News.
- Tzveta Panayotova (Facilities Planning and Construction UFL). "People Movers - Systems and Case Studies" (PDF).
- Richter, Marice (January 29, 1989). "Las Colinas transit system to get rolling this summer". The Dallas Morning News.
- Brown, Steve (August 12, 1993). "Stopped in its tracks; Budget cuts derail Las Colinas' people-mover". The Dallas Morning News.
- Staff Reporters (December 7, 1996). "Popular trains ride rails again; Las Colinas system returns after 3 years". Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- "Las Colinas Peoplemover Infopage". Jerry Schneider's Innovative Transportation Technologies.
- Las Colinas People Movers Wrapped on YouTube (Uploaded January 24, 2013)
- Gary N. Bourland. Las Colinas: The Inside Story of America's Premier Urban Development. Happyme Publishing. ISBN 0-9609350-3-7.
- Lee Powell. "Ranch to riches: A city's tale - Las Colinas' growth marked by foresight, careful planning". The Dallas Morning News.
- City of Irving. "Northwest Corridor Land Use Study".
- Lindsay, Greg (April 13, 2010). "Texas Sprawl Goes Out With a Bang, Development Sprouts on Irving Transit Line". Fast Company. Retrieved April 14, 2010.