Bus route changes made for purpose of deterring crime

Beginning today, DART buses will no longer stop at the southwest intersection of Forest Lane and Audelia, where drug dealers have been known to congregate. The removal is part of a larger effort to quell crime at the corner.

When neighbors met last month to discuss problems in the Forest Audelia area of Lake Highlands, many leaders in attendance — including interim Northeast Dallas Police Department Commander Maj. Avery Moore, District 10 Councilman Adam McGough, Community Prosecutor Kristen Kramer, Lake Highlands Public Improvement District director Kathy Stewart and even the elementary school principal at Forest Lane Academy where the meeting took place — assured us that everything anyone could think of was being done to combat prevalent violence, drug dealing and other crime that plagues the vicinity.

Since then, a plan to implement a Public Improvement District surrounding the area has been furthered and legal action has been taken to force a crime-riddled Forest Audelia shopping center, EZ Trip and Creek Bend, into abating on-property nuisances, at threat of closure.

Established neighbors have complained that as long as a bus stop adjacent to EZ Trip’s property remained in place, loitering that leads to frequent drug deals (which multiple neighbors report witnessing from their windows or while patronizing the shopping center) will continue to happen with impunity. After all, you cannot prevent people from “loitering” at a bus stop. And preventative measures must be part of the solution because by the time someone reports drug activity and police arrive, it’s usually late to stop or arrest perpetrators (that doesn’t mean don’t report, Moore insisted — calls are vital to knowing where to utilize police resources).

Former Lake Highlands Area Improvement Association president and Woodbridge resident, attorney Steve Wakefield, who had worked in the past to move the DART bus stop in question, expressed doubt that much could improve. Seventeen years fighting hard has made him skeptical that enough change will ever happen, he told the group and the panel that night.

But last Friday, District 10’s McGough was thanking Wakefield and “many other members of the community who have led the charge to move this bus stop.”

“We have begged, fought and pleaded, and some almost lost hope,” McGough noted in a public social media post. “Until Dallas Police Department, Northeast Division interim Chief Maj. Avery Moore, took the challenge and found a way.”

We still have a lot of work to do, McGough says. But “the bus stop at Forest and Audelia that provided an excuse for so many pretending to wait on a bus while transacting other less legal business is finally gone. This may seem like a small thing, but it took several years to finally make this happen.”

For commuters, a DART bus stop is located across Forest Lane, outside the DD’s Discount store, and another is just a couple hundred feet away at Audelia and Springtree.