Monday will bring major changes to Denton's bus route schedules — the most drastic since the Denton County Transportation Authority took over the city's LINK bus system more than a decade ago.
Transit officials have said all Connect bus routes in Denton will be modified, and the schedule changes will fill service gaps.
"The [changes] will drastically improve service frequency, connect times and provide service to some new areas in Denton," said Adrienne Hamilton, a DCTA spokeswoman. "We wanted to create a transit network that supports and meets the needs of transit riders in Denton, provides an attractive transit option for as many residents as possible and operates in a cost-effective manner."
The new bus schedules are based on recommendations from DCTA's recent analysis of its operations.
Among the most visible changes are two routes serving the Rayzor Ranch Town Center shopping area, added service along Loop 288 between Brinker Road and East University Drive, the elimination of service on Elm and Oakland streets and Eagle Drive, and added frequency on Oak Street and Bell Avenue.
Route 9, which serves Avenue B at West Oak Street and the University of North Texas campus at Welch and Chestnut streets, is being eliminated. Stops generally along that path will be picked up by Routes 7 and 8, Hamilton said.
The most drastic change is Route 4, which no longer will make stops at the Brock Downtown Denton Transit Center but will be a connector route along the north and east sides of the city where riders can transfer to the Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 buses.
Currently, riders wait about 40 minutes for a majority of Connect buses throughout the day. Schedule changes will bring about a 30-minute frequency during peak hours and an hour frequency during off-peak hours, Hamilton said. Because Route 4 will be a connector route, frequency will be an hour throughout the entire day, according to DCTA officials.
DCTA has informed riders of Monday's bus schedule changes through a series of channels — the transit website, newsletter, blog, social media pages, emailed rider alerts, facility and vehicle signage and three public meetings.
Rider reaction to the new schedules is mixed. Some riders say they're OK with the changes, while others believe it causes more of a hardship.
Madeline Martin of Denton rides Connect buses almost daily to travel between home and her two jobs. Sitting underneath a downtown bus shelter Friday, she said she supposes the schedule changes and added stops will be an improvement.
"I'm not looking forward to learning the new bus routes, but I'm sure it's for the best," Martin said. "As far as I know, we'll still be able to get places. I'll have to figure out how I'm going to get home, but I'm sure it won't be difficult. The bus system here is pretty straightforward."
Robert Daly, who waited at the downtown transit center Friday, isn't looking forward to changes. The Denton man, who said he has a heart condition, has used the bus for about a year for everything he needs to do, including getting to work, going to doctor's appointments and shopping.
He said the changes put him and other riders farther away from their current destinations, and DCTA officials should have kept the current schedule system. Daly said he knows of several drivers who are upset about the changes.
"The improvements they made are improvements for themselves," he said. "It's more of an inconvenience than a help."
Hamilton said DCTA will continue taking rider feedback on bus schedules beyond Monday's launch.
"It's imperative at DCTA that we're improving service and finding ways to optimize service," she said.
To view the new schedules, visit http://bit.ly/2r6I7Cy.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876.