While Denton County Transportation Authority officials celebrate recent improvements in ridership, they will soon unveil some proposed rate changes the public may not be cheering.
DCTA officials will conduct a series of public meetings in October to discuss fare changes to the monthly regional pass, the annual regional pass and the regional reduced fare price.
The rate change proposal did not originate with DCTA. Any changes would be to align DCTA with its regional partners — Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, known as the T, both of which proposed a regional rate increase. If approved, the rate changes would take effect Jan 14.
“Our concern about any type of fare increase [is] we’re a new system [and] we didn’t feel like now is the time to raise fares,” said Dee Leggett, vice president of communications and planning for DCTA. “Our hands are somewhat tied with the regional system because there are three of us involved.”
Leggett said there are pros and cons to DCTA’s regional transit partnership with DART and the T.
The pro is seamless connectivity. The con is being tied to the regional partners and fares they propose.
The three transit agencies involved honor a reciprocal fare structure for riders, so the fares need to be the same for all of them.
Leggett said officials will use other means to encourage users to ride the A-train, including during off-peak hours, when officials are considering lowering the cost of riding the rail line.
Another idea is to reduce prices for the local university system pass program.
“Hopefully, if there is ridership lost due to an increase in the regional fare, we will offset the cost by making the local option more attractive to users,” Leggett said.
DCTA officials also extended the fare boundary to the Trinity Mills Station in Carrollton. Anyone traveling beyond that station would require a regional pass.
Also, Leggett said, the agency is looking into the idea of bulk passes for corporations to provide to employees and for nonprofits or special groups.
Paul Pomeroy, board treasurer and Highland Village’s representative for DCTA, said the prospect of a fare increase is not new to the board and has been considered over recent weeks, with staff from both DCTA and DART communicating and sharing agency input. Despite that, DART is moving forward with the regional fare increases.
“What our staff has done is looked at how that impacts our overall fare structure and seen if we can leave our local fares the same. They will present us a package of all that at the board meeting Thursday,” Pomeroy said. “It is our intention to be — I don’t know if conservative is the right word — to do as little as possible but be cognizant of our own cost structure and what DART is doing.”
He said it would be hard to determine the impact until DCTA receives input from the public at the meetings.
The meeting series begins Oct. 8 in Lewisville, continues in Hickory Creek on Oct. 10 and concludes in Denton on Oct. 11.
Leggett maintains that public opinion is valued by DCTA officials.
“It has always been part of the process and will be included in their decision-making,” she said.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is email@example.com .
DCTA will discuss proposed rate changes at a series of public meetings in early October. Copies of the recommended changes, the public meeting materials and the board materials will be posted online today at www.dcta.net/news-events/2013farechange/menu-id-59.html.
The public can comment on the proposed fare structure until Oct. 24, by attending the public meetings, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 940-221-4600. The DCTA board is anticipated to vote on the changes on Oct. 25, with implementation set for Jan. 14.
The following are the times, dates and places for the public meetings:
• 7 p.m. Oct. 8 — Lewisville Municipal Annex, 1197 W. Main St. Accessible via Connect Route 23.
• 7 p.m. Oct. 10 — Highland Village Council Chamber, 1000 Highland Village Road
• 7 p.m. Oct. 11 — Downtown Denton Transit Center, 604 E. Hickory St. Accessible via A-train and all Denton Connect routes.