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Grassroots organization advocates for public transit in Denton

Grassroots organization advocates for public transit in Denton

Grassroots organization advocates for public transit in Denton
March 31
13:00 2023

Concrete seating is available at a North Texas bus stop in front of the University Union on March 27, 2023. Lauren Campbell

Abundance Denton is a new grassroots organization advocating for abundant housing and public transportation options for the Denton community. 

Denton resident and public policy advocate Kristine Bray launched the organization in February 2023 alongside her spouse, John Knowles, and friend, Forrest DuPlantier. The three were motivated by repeated frustrations with the public transportation options within the community. The goal for the organization is to be “a front on pushing city council and [Denton County Transportation Authority],” in their policy-making decisions, Bray said.

“Busses are a hot topic, they are something people very much need, they are something that is currently failing our community,” Bray said. “We used to have more buses, and then they brought GoZone in, and GoZone is just failing us and the routes that are left are not well-managed.”

Bray said the board of Abundance Denton is dedicated to “getting policymakers to commit to prioritizing public transportation.” The three members each oversee a different aspect, with Bray heading the organization and leading social events. Knowles works on paperwork and legalities and DuPlantier offers financial advice and brings experience with starting an organization.

Abundance Denton is currently contacting city council candidates and asking them to sign onto their policy brief. After the election, they plan on meeting with seated council members to discuss turning ideas into written policy.

The policy brief is a 45-page document that covers what makes public transit work, its role, how it is beneficial, where the role of it is in Denton and how it can be improved with specific policy recommendations.

Some recommendations listed in it are fare-free bus rides, the addition of routes, longer hours, Sunday ride times, seating, shelter and maps at each bus stop. The brief also recommends reducing emissions through electric vehicles and adding city staffing jobs devoted to planning transportation in partnership with the DCTA and the university.

An Abundance Denton sticker that reads “More Routes, Better Stops, More Abundance” is posted at a North Texas bus stop on March 27, 2023. Lauren Campbell

“I would like it if there was an organization that was stable in the city of Denton and was doing policy and lobbying work, as well as direct support,” Bray said.

Currently, a job position specifically designed to look at housing and other new infrastructure in order to decide how the city can supply them with accessible public transportation does not exist.

Paul Meltzer, a candidate for Denton City Council District 3, has endorsed Abundance Denton in his election campaign. He is running against Jesse Davis, who is running for reelection and has previously voted for a policy to eliminate fixed bus routes. This policy did not get passed.

DCTA currently has three routes operating during the weekdays, with limited hours of operation on Saturdays and no service on Sundays, as well as a lack of seating and shelter at each stop. These routes are not concurrent with the university bus routes. Two main community routes were taken out recently in January 2023.

“Denton riders deserve a public transit system designed for the riders,” Meltzer said. “I’ve lived in places where owning a car is an inconvenience, and I am delighted to sign onto the Abundance Denton plan.”

Abundance Denton has been working with organizations like Bike Denton and Stronger Denton to work on minor policy details and get a second opinion on decision-making. 

Bray plans to host weekly meetings covering a new aspect of the policy brief, each time with planned steps to take as a call to action for the public. She also plans to provide activities for the members during meetings, whether it is making bus routes out of pipe cleaners or coordinating block-walking events, which is a term for walking door-to-door and informing the community. 

The organization also plans to table at events, talk to candidates and sitting members, distribute stickers and advocate for citizens to vote.

“I can’t drive a car, unfortunately, because of my disabilities, so I rely on the public transit here to get around, get to school and run errands,” said Denton resident and university student CC Grogan-Albaugh.

 “I’ve lived in places before where the public transit is very extensive, including Germany, and I want to see Denton become more accessible to the people who live here.”

Featured Image A North Texas parking map is displayed at a bus stop in front of the University Union on March 27, 2023. Lauren Campbell

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