Marcus Simmons said he can sleep in a little longer on the weekdays now that the Denton County Transportation Authority on Monday added a few midday trips to its A-train schedule.
The recent rail service changes were approved in late May after the DCTA’s board of directors agreed a midday rail service was top priority.
Officials identified the service as a priority after receiving input from train and bus riders in the spring.
Simmons said he uses the train to travel to work, and planning his commutes around class schedules can sometimes make time management difficult.
“Every minute counts when you’re a working college student,” the University of North Texas junior said. “I can get to work now without having to wait around too long to start my shift. I definitely think it’s more convenient, for sure.”
The schedule changes are designed to be friendlier to a rider’s routine activities. Officials said commuters will find it easier to travel home in the middle of the day, travel to work and school after class, and attend midday events during the week and on weekends.
Ridership is normally low in the summer months when school is out, but officials are using this period of time to see how non-students respond to the new changes. And when school starts later this month, officials will evaluate student responses.
It’s too early to gauge the effects of the new schedule, but a few riders and officials are optimistic, said Dee Leggett, DCTA communications and planning vice president.
“We think the changes will actually increase ridership all-around, even for the bus services,” she said.
DCTA officials said the changes are part of a bigger effort to increase overall use and comprehension of the train and bus routes.
Several DCTA employees took a ride on the train recently, including president Jim Cline. He said he spoke to several commuters who were excited about the new service.
He said he hopes the new schedule will attract new riders and open doors for people who are limited by their transportation options.
In the spring, DCTA officials collected public input on how to improve transit services. Commuters told officials that a midday schedule should be a top priority, with expanding bus services as a close second, Leggett said.
Other changes DCTA officials will soon implement include expanding bus connections and scheduling, and late-night weekend services.
Over the next 12 months, DCTA will also work to improve how riders navigate the transit system.
“Transit systems can be intimidating,” Leggett said. “We want to be able to help people understand the system by creating a comprehensive plan and guide for them.”
In January, the DCTA will add 32 hours of bus service and probably tweak the rail schedule slightly, Leggett said.
The agency will use various promotions that include social media, billboards and other mediums to promote the changes and initiatives, Leggett said. DCTA officials want to reach all of their potential audiences and riders to make each transition as easy as possible, she said.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
A-TRAIN SCHEDULE CHANGES