The fate of late Friday and Saturday night A-train service is once again up for discussion.
As Denton County Transportation Authority staff and board members consider August service schedule modifications, under-performing trips are being looked at, which could result in changing times or cutting trips altogether.
“Our planning staff has been evaluating ridership across the system, bus and rail preparing for our August service changes. Part of that review is looking at the A-train and breaking that information out by trips,” said Jarod Varner, vice president of bus operations.
Trips that aren’t performing well could be shifted or canceled.
Possible changes include an 11:55 p.m. southbound trip on Fridays. Varner said the DCTA staff is considering shifting the trip to 11:15 p.m. Another is a Saturday 1:30 a.m. southbound trip that Varner said staff is looking at scraping entirely.
At this point, Varner said staff is still unsure why certain trips are under-performing, but officials will look for answers at the next round of public meetings, which begins April 11.
“At this point, it has been data-intensive. The next step is to get that analytical information from our passengers at our public meetings,” he said. “Through that part of the process, we will get a feel of what is working and what is not from the passenger perspective.”
In addition, officials are looking into requests from the public for earlier service on Saturday mornings.
The issue of Friday- and Saturday-night service was up for discussion early last year. The service was nearing the end of the pilot period and ridership did not meet the goals set by the board for the service to continue. DCTA board members voted to scuttle the service at the end of the pilot period. Following that meeting, some members changed their minds and the board took another vote for the service to continue.
Denton City Council member Kevin Roden, an outspoken advocate for the late services, said the city has been given a couple years to state its case for the need for the late service and understands the need for possible change.
“I still think the service in question is still good for the downtown area in the long run in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish in creating downtown as a destination spot for visitors,” he said.
Roden noted that one area that could help is changing the culture and hours of live music in Denton.
“One of the big cases that some people were making for the need for late night was we have a very thriving music scene people may want to come in for,” he said. “The problem is, the Denton music scene is extraordinarily late, so you do have, in a lot of cases, headliners who don’t start until midnight or 1 a.m. There is no way a train system can accommodate that sort of schedule.”
Roden said those discussions must continue as officials look at ways to bolster ridership.
DCTA president Jim Cline said officials are trying to provide the best possible service for riders.
“We think there are some opportunities that can be explored. For example, if we could make the service happen on Saturday morning, you could be at the Marcellus Zoo right at 10 o’clock instead of in the afternoon,” he said. “As we go forward, that would be what we’re trying to look at. This is a point in time we’re trying to get input from the public and find out what they think. That’s a huge part of what we do and will definitely enter into the discussion as we go forward.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and viaTwitter @BjlewisDRC.
ON THE AGENDA
Following is a list of A-train trips that will be reviewed:
Friday: 11:55 p.m. southbound. Consideration is to shift trip from 11:15 p.m.
Friday: 12:47 northbound from Trinity Mills station. Consideration is to end that trip.
Friday: 1:30 a.m. southbound trip to Old Town. Consideration is to end that trip.
Saturday: 12:37 a.m. northbound. Consideration is to end that trip.
Saturday: 1:30 a.m. southbound. Consideration is to end that trip.