The people have spoken and the Denton County Transportation Authority is listening.
Agency staff members reviewed nearly a thousand community surveys recently, and the results — revealed at Thursday’s monthly board meeting — show that people love DCTA service and want more of it, officials said.
The agency now must decide how and when to make that happen.
“Every time we do a survey, we always learn our passengers like our service — they just want more, so that’s a good problem to have,” said Kristina Brevard, vice president of communications and marketing. “As we have additional financial resources we add service, [and] year over year we have continued to add service. So we’re growing.”
DCTA received 976 completed surveys after English and Spanish versions were made available online and in print, distributed aboard buses and trains and handed out at the Brock Downtown Denton Transit Center and community events. Some surveys were mailed to residents in member cities.
Brevard noted that the majority of the responding passengers use more than one DCTA service and travel daily or more than four times a week.
The results showed that 83 percent of passengers grade DCTA “good” or “excellent” for reliability and 93 percent gave the same rating for safety.
When passengers were asked to rate their recent experience on DCTA compared with a year ago, 51 percent said it was “much better” or “better,” with 3 percent saying it was “worse.”
The majority of the feedback continues to call for improved service hours, frequency and connections to reduce travel times and transfer times between the A-train and Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Green Line, Brevard said.
Brevard said some changes suggested by those surveyed already were on the agency’s docket. In August, she said, the agency will address bus-to-bus connections and bus-to-train connections.
“Every single trip is not perfect, but we will [have] better overall connectivity on the system,” Brevard said.
DCTA and DART officials talk often, Brevard said, to coordinate better connection times. DART’s light rail line, which runs more frequently than DCTA’s commuter train, offers more opportunities to connect.
“The restraint of us having a single-track system — that’s probably our biggest hurdle,” Brevard said. “It’s all about the ebb and flow, especially during peak periods. We have to make sure we’re meeting our Connect buses at the station.”
Brevard said the schedule is a big puzzle with lots of pieces, so a schedule in which every connection is perfect is not feasible.
“Our goal is to provide as many connections as possible for passenger convenience,” she said.
A-train ridership averages 2,600 passengers per day, Brevard said, and agency officials are hoping to hear from more of them.
“We have a lot of passengers and community members sending us feedback on a daily basis, [and] we encourage that,” she said.
Brevard said the agency plans to try some new outreach tactics with its next survey to improve feedback.
In other action Thursday, board members were briefed on the monthly sales tax report. Sales tax represents the largest source of revenue for DCTA, and July’s numbers show an increase of nearly 4 percent from May and an increase of 7 percent over the same month last year.
Also noted was the latest staff addition, Raymond Suarez.
Suarez, who has been working as the new chief operating officer since July 14, formerly served as chief administrative officer for the Trinity Railway Express.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.