The A-Train began its Denton-Carrollton service on June 18, much to the delight of many North Texas commuters. In a boon for the Denton economy, business has already picked up in the shops, restaurants and bars in and around the city's downtown square. An increase in foot traffic is obvious to any daytime observer.
But there remains concern — specifically in regard to the train's much-debated schedule, which was initially proposed by the Denton County Transit Authority to be idle on weekends, though it currently runs on Saturday. Also of note: After a robust debate between citizens and council members, the previously scheduled run-time was extended to midnight — certainly a win for many in Denton's small-business community.
But there remains one group of Denton small-business owners and managers who feel they haven't reaped the same sort of benefits. The bars and clubs associated with Denton's music community typically have shows that run until 2 a.m., making the A-train a virtual non-factor for the out-of-town commuter who plans on making it to one of these shows.
Denton County Transit Authority
"Our shows are so late that it's really kind of hard for people to utilize that service," says Heelers frontman Isaac Hoskins, manager at Dan's Silverleaf. "It's hard to come see a show and go back to Dallas."
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Although Dan's opens at 4 p.m., its main function as a music venue makes it near impossible for showgoers to use the A-train.
"I've only actually heard some negative things," says Sundress frontman Ryan McAdams, who does booking for Hailey's Club. "It doesn't connect all the way to Dallas, and it doesn't make anything easier for people who want to come see shows."
D.R. Simmons, part owner of the Abbey Inn and the Abbey Inn Underground (a restaurant and music venue, respectively) is able to see both the positive effects of the new train service and the lack thereof: "We've seen more people coming in the restaurant during the daytime and in the evening," he says, "but by 10 or 11 that's over. If anything, I think the train would be affecting the music community adversely, because it doesn't support the venues."
Many of those operating the venues near the station, including Simmons and Hoskins, have developed plans to have early shows in order to catch the tail end of the A-train rush. There's some difficulty, however, in changing the culture of a community that is used to late shows. Meanwhile, state and local budget concerns make it unlikely the A-train's run schedule will be pushed back to go any later than it already does.