By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
An A Train connecting Dallas and Denton has been the dream of students, venue owners, musicians and showgoers alike since its conception in 2002. But the current reality for these folks could turn out to be a letdown.
Currently, plans call for trains to run from a station near Denton's Courthouse-on-the-Square to the Trinity Mills DART station in Carrollton, with stops in Denton, Highland Village and Lewisville stations in between. But budget cutbacks have forced the Denton County Transportation Authority to concentrate more on weekday daytime service rather than a night and weekend schedule that would please the music-inclined in the region looking for an easy way to commute between Dallas and Denton.
"We had to see with declining sales taxes how can we continue to run a transit operation sustainably, so we're looking at reduced service," says DCTA vice president of communications Dee Liggett. "Since 2008, the financial conditions with which we live and operate have drastically changed. We can't afford to operate the schedules we hoped we could operate back when the service plan was drafted."
The DCTA now has 150 trains they can operate per week and has to decide how best to spread the trains around to accommodate all types of customers, with the focus being on daytime commuters. Recently, though, more and more Dentonites have been making their frustrations about the lack of night and weekend services heard.
"I thought it was going to be a great thing at first," says Ray Gill Jr., owner of Hailey's Club. "More on the selfish end, I was hoping to drag more nightlife down [to the venue]. If there is less access, it makes it not nearly as exciting of a project."
Gill's club is located a very short walk from the central Denton station, and so are many other Denton venues that would benefit a Dallas-Denton railway. As it is currently planned, though, the trains would stop running before the bars close; staying the night and taking a day train back would be the only viable option.
"I fantasized about going to solo gigs and just having my suitcase and guitar with me," says Ryan Thomas Becker of RTB2 and many other Denton-based projects. "When I learned it wasn't suited toward nights and weekends, my initial reaction was 'Why even do it at this time?'"
Becker said he believes that, without weekend service, Denton's music community would not stand to gain from the A Train.
"That's when I'm out and about," he says. "Most of my gigs don't start till after 9 or 10. I won't be able to use it if it doesn't run nights and weekends." —Rodrigo Diaz