Dart celebrates 30 years... and 500 million passengers
THE Dart has celebrated its 30th birthday, transporting 500 million passengers since it began operating in 1984.
It has covered 15.5m kilometres a year in the process - equivalent to 20 return journeys to the moon.
Despite initial scepticism, the Dart quickly established itself as an integral part of Dublin's transport network.
When it opened on July 23, 1984, the first train was full six stops into the journey.
By the time the service from Bray to the city centre reached Dun Laoghaire, no new passengers could get on.
Only 20,000 people had been expected to use the Dublin Area Rapid Transit system on that day but 35,000 passengers hopped on.
It was built at a cost of IR£77m (€98m) - or more than €200m in today's money.
The Dart is now one of the symbols of the capital, appearing regularly on the small and big screen as well as in novels and poetry.
An ad for the Herald using the catch line 'the best part of the day' featured the Dart as a backdrop.
The service's fleet remained at its original size of 80 carriages from 1984 to 1999, but has since increased to 154 carriages.
The original fleet, with the exception of for four carriages destroyed in a fire at Fairview Depot in 2001, is still operating.
When the Dart began, some 25,000 journeys were made daily.
Now, the number is up to 75,000.
Its busiest ever day was on July 4, 1996, when the USS John F Kennedy naval ship arrived in Dun Laoghaire and more than 250,000 people travelled by Dart to see it.
Seamus Heaney, the late Nobel Laureate, wrote his short poem Dublin 4 especially for the Poet's Corner posters on carriages.
The train service has also featured in the works of Roddy Doyle, is a favourite of the fictitious character Ross O'Carroll-Kelly, and has inspired a way of whole way of speaking - the 'Dort' accent.
"With 30 years under its belt, there are plans for the Dart to embark on a new phase of expansion over the coming years," spokesman Barry Kenny told the Herald.
"The Dart expansion programme would see it extended to the Northern line, Maynooth and Hazelhatch.
"Central to this plan is Dart Underground, a 7.5km line running underground from Docklands to Inchicore, serving underground stations at Docklands, Pearse, St Stephen's Green, Christchurch and Heuston," he added.
"The National Transport Authority is also currently examining a proposal to extend the Dart to Dublin Airport as part of its public transport review for North Dublin.
The €200m project would see a Dart line built from the airport to Clongriffin, allowing direct Dart services from the airport to the city centre every 15 minutes," Mr Kenny said.