Federal funds and Friday A-train service were on the agenda Thursday when Denton County Transportation Authority board members met for their regular monthly meeting.
Members were briefed on money received from the government and how it is planned to be spent and continued conversation on Friday service, including nixing two late-night trains for earlier Saturday-morning trips.
The transit agency has about $4.8 million coming its way from the Federal Transportation Administration. The funds were released last week as two pots of funds the agency will spend on operations, fleet replacement and preventative maintenance costs with DCTA matching the funds. The agency typically will provide 20 percent of the costs and fund the remaining 80 percent with federal dollars on a given project.
The board also approved an agreement with the Texas Transportation Institute to look at a future contracting method with bus operators.
“We want to do a pretty in-depth study in terms of what our approach needs to be moving forward,” said Dee Leggett, vice president of communications and planning for DCTA.
Leggett said the study has nothing to do with the near bus driver strike earlier this year. First Transit, from which DCTA contracts its bus drivers, had contract negotiation snags with the Amalgamated Transit Union. The two sides settled their issues, but had there been a strike, it would have affected DCTA bus services.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with the performance of the current contractor,” Leggett said. “It’s more about DCTA doing its due diligence to make sure as we move forward [that] we are doing so in the most judicious manner possible.”
Board members also adopted a revised budget, making some updates based on where the agency is financially in the middle of the fiscal year.
“We saw there were some additional capital projects we needed to do, some adjustments for insurance costs and some midlife engine replacements on some of our bus fleets,” Leggett said. “Our bigger buses that run in Denton are 12-year buses. Midlife, year six, you need to do an engine overhaul. The board approved spending $250,000 to do the engine overhaul.”
Board members further discussed the changes to Friday service coming in the August service adjustment.
“We shifted the two late-night Friday and Saturday trips to provide earlier Saturday departures from Trinity Mills and downtown Denton,” Leggett said.
Those trips are the 12:29 a.m. southbound trip and 1:19 a.m. northbound trip on Friday night and the 12:26 a.m. southbound and 1:09 a.m. northbound trip on Saturday nights.
“We still have an 11:15 p.m. departure, it’s just not as late as it has been,” Leggett said. “We still think our Friday-Saturday service will still serve key events in Denton and key events in Dallas at the American Airlines Center or Fair Park, and we still think we will be able to serve the majority of key events that have already proven to be ridership generators.”
DCTA president Jim Cline said he wanted to focus on the positive public feedback about the changes and touted bus schedule tweaks that will be made to better synchronize with the rail.
“Response has been very positive to the entire package, [and] for trading those trips out and starting things earlier on Saturday,” Cline said.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.