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DCTA correct to tweak service

We don’t envy Denton County Transportation Authority board members as they continue to discuss the best way to tweak A-train service to best serve customers.

No matter what decisions are made, there’s bound to be someone who’s left standing at the station.

Take last week’s decision to nix two late-night trains on Friday in favor of earlier Saturday morning trips, for example. That one is sure to anger some area residents who called for late-night service to bring out-of-towners to the Denton club scene.

It’s too bad that more of those who said they wanted the service didn’t use it while they had the chance.

DCTA staff members have been evaluating ridership across the system, bus and rail, in preparation for August service changes, and officials warned early in the process that trips that weren’t performing well could be shifted or canceled.

Well, the numbers just didn’t support continuing the late-night Friday service, DCTA officials said.

“We shifted the two late-night Friday and Saturday trips to provide earlier Saturday departures from Trinity Mills and downtown Denton,” said Dee Leggett, vice president of communications and planning for DCTA.

Officials have said the shift in service could help DCTA explore new opportunities, and we agree. Providing earlier service on Saturday morning could help families reach Dallas destinations earlier, giving them more incentive to make the trip.

We realize that Denton’s late-night attitude is a major part of the city’s attraction to a certain age group, but it’s obvious that many of those who patronize local clubs and bars haven’t taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the A-train.

That’s too bad, but continuing runs with low ridership is simply throwing good money after bad — why not investigate some of those new opportunities that DCTA officials mentioned?

“We still have an 11:15 p.m. departure, it’s just not as late as it has been,” Leggett told us. “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.”

We continue to believe the A-train is a valuable addition to Denton County’s transportation options and that the appeal of rail will grow as the long-anticipated Interstate 35 project and the accompanying traffic woes come into full focus.

Plus, as Denton City Council member Kevin Roden, an outspoken advocate for late A-train services, suggested in late March, it could help to consider 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.”

We believe Roden’s idea about a culture shift might be a little premature, but it could happen under the right circumstances — skyrocketing gasoline prices or major traffic delays due to road construction, for example.

Time will tell, but it’s good to know that DCTA officials are continuing to explore the most efficient ways to serve their customers.

The A-train service is one travel option that we need to keep up and running.