Denton County Transportation Authority ridership keeps climbing, but the agency is still waiting for that major Interstate 35E-related spike in the numbers.
Officials said they hope and expect those upward trends to continue even as they plan to promote and advertise to bring in more passengers as the I-35E expansion project continues.
“We are seeing solid growth and that’s real positive, [but] in terms of a huge jump somewhere, I think that will be a function of how the traffic is managed,” DCTA President Jim Cline said. “We’re watching for things like when FM407 goes under construction and when the major elements come in and start affecting people.”
According to the most recent numbers, DCTA carried 140,676 passengers systemwide — rail and bus — in May. The A-train carried 44,244 passengers during the month, an overall increase in ridership of 15.8 percent from May 2013. DCTA’s bus system carried 96,432 passengers in May.
The agency has carried nearly 2 million people on both bus and rail combined this year.
“It’s summer time. There is less traffic on the road,” said Kristina Brevard, vice president of communications and marketing for DCTA. “Once we move into the fall, that’s when it will be really interesting to see where ridership goes: Schools get back in session, people get back from vacation and to their regular lives.”
Brevard noted that the agency’s August service changes, while not major, will improve some connections and will likely yield further ridership increases.
Bus ridership is up, which shows staff that passengers are using both modes in their travels, she said.
“We had a pretty significant increase in Lewisville, and this past year had to purchase a large bus because of capacity,” Brevard said.
At DCTA’s June board meeting, Brevard presented advertising initiatives the agency will make, including online and radio outlets.
Cline said as he and the staff look to the future, those types of initiatives will continue.
“We want to keep making sure people are aware of us as an option,” Cline said. “We’re going to be aiming to see those growth opportunities when they present themselves. We have done billboards in the past and will look at what makes the most sense going forward. I-35 or not, we will keep working on building ridership.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjLewisDRC.