LEWISVILLE — The Denton County Transportation Authority’s 2013 budget is set.
Board members gave their approval Thursday to a budget that includes $22 million in operating expenses, $21.4 million in capital expenses and $4.03 million in operating revenues. Board members also got a look at proposed service changes and fare increases that will need to be voted on at future meetings.
“We’re very comfortable in presenting this budget,” DCTA President Jim Cline said. “We’re able to continue midday service, enhance the bus service in January and continue all the good things we do here at DCTA.”
The final budget also included a new $204,000 capital project for rail grinding to address DCTA officials’ concerns about shunting, which is important for signal operation and crossing safety. Shunting is a current sent through the system that signals that a train is on the track and approaching a crossing.
Over time, dirt and debris can build up on the tracks and interfere with this signal. The funds will provide ongoing maintenance, said Anna Mosqueda, vice president and chief financial officer for DCTA.
The funds were taken from the capital infrastructure reserve built into the agency’s cash flow model, she told board members.
Cline noted that the reserve was doing what it was supposed to accomplish.
“That’s how we envisioned using capital reserve — when something comes up, we can pay for it, [and] not impact daily operations.”
During an afternoon work session, board members were briefed on the proposed fare increases facing the agency. If approved, the fare increases would keep DCTA in line with the fares offered by Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, transit partners of the Denton County agency.
DART fare increases took effect in December. DCTA would adjust the fares in January to coincide with regularly scheduled service changes.
Bill Walker, a small-cities representative, expressed reservations about the timing of the fare increase since the agency is just seeing success with the addition of midday rail service.
“What will it do to our student ridership?” Walker asked. “I just have concerns with the timing at this point.”
As these fare and service matters are discussed, Cline continues to think about other changes that can be made to improve the A-train and bus operations, including additional service that could accommodate students leaving classes that get out after 8 p.m.
“I am absolutely convinced that is the next thing we need to address — one of the things that needs to be on the top of the list,” he said. “My recommendation right now is, as we move forward to implement the January changes, seeing how those work — getting the full picture of what the midday service does for us, DART’s fare changes, see how it all fits together. And we have to listen to the public and take their feedback. That’s been the hallmark of everything we have done.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .