North Texas Daily

DCTA raises budget to $76 million for improvements, maintenance

DCTA raises budget to $76 million for improvements, maintenance

DCTA raises budget to $76 million for improvements, maintenance
September 08
14:00 2023

Editor’s Note: This story’s headline has been updated to correct the numerical value of the budget. 

The Denton County Transportation Authority approved next year’s $76 million budget at its board meeting, increasing its allotment to make room for the growing organization and potential new plans for Denton transportation.

The previous fiscal year’s budget was just under $60 million. While  about  $2  million  of  the  financial plan is set aside for salaries and hiring new employees, DCTA is  allocating  most  of  the  budget  to  the current transportation state. 

Part of the money will be spent toward the maintenance and upkeep of the A-trains, according to David Magaña, DCTA Director of Marketing and Communications and Bedford resident. The trains may also be provided with digital sign-ins that allow riders to have electronic tickets, similar to railway systems in other cities. Talk has also been made about moving opportunities to Corinth or Carrollton, but the plans for expansion are waiting on more data and agreement between cities.

“What we’re gaining from GoZone, in addition to being able to serve the general public in a lot more flexible way, is we’re gaining knowledge as to where people are going, starting and ending points,” Magaña said. “Phenomenally, that’s helping us understand route patterns and traffic patterns and where people will pay for transit.”

The GoZone program has seen a steady amount of ridership across Denton since last year, according to DCTA’s performance data. Ridership for the GoZone vans has also been higher than the other transit options available, including the bus routes and A-trains, according to data on DCTA’s website.

Magaña said there are strengths to both the buses and the vans. The buses, unlike the vans, rotate with a new one arriving every seven to eight minutes all day long and arrive at a designated spot marked by a sign every time they run.

Currently, Magaña said DCTA is pushing for more individuals to ride the buses rather than the vans. The app for GoZone is set up to notify people when they’re looking for available vans with bus routes nearby.

“There’s a good number of routes of GoZone trips that could be taken on a bus,” Magaña said. “There aren’t very many takers. They’d rather take GoZone.”

Although there are no current plans to continue to expand the GoZone area, last year  DCTA removed bus routes two, four and five in favor of the van program. This change was in response to the lack of bus ridership, which the organization continues to monitor for changes in upcoming years.

“I have heard our CEO say that, as an organization, we’re kind of an adolescent,” Magaña said. “There are a lot of things that we’re doing right now that are sort of moving us into a bigger transit agency kind of world.” 

District One city councilperson Vicki Byrd has stated her concerns with the GoZone program and DCTA’s decision of favoring more populated routes. While the organization is moving toward the more frequented routes for buses and GoZone, she worries that this will leave a lot of residents on the unfrequented routes without travel options. 

“Like everyone else, we have opportunities for input as to how this additional funding is spent,” Byrd said. “I am hoping that they add the most vulnerable in the equation. And as I understand, the most vulnerable are in my district.”

Some Denton residents have also expressed their displeasure with GoZone, with some Denton County residents creating the Facebook group  “GoZone drivers are going to get someone killed.”

Michael Woods, Denton resident and previous GoZone user, said he has had multiple problems for the year that he used the service. Woods said one of these problems was when he tried to contact management after having problems with a GoZone driver.

“I filed a complaint on the app, and nothing was done about it,” Woods said. “I had to file a request and after a month a manager finally called me back.”

While DCTA is not responsible for GoZone or its drivers, Magaña said they often receive complaints about GoZone first before sending them to Via. Via, the parent company of GoZone, is responsible for the transit service and its workers when there are issues.

The budget is set to go into place on Oct. 1.

Featured Image: A DCTA logo is displayed on the side of a bus in front of the University Union on Aug. 23, 2023. Brendan McDonald

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Syd Wolfenberger

Syd Wolfenberger

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