The Denton Country Transit Authority (DCTA) board met last night to consider a number of service and schedule changes, but no item they discussed will get as much attention as their decision on Friday night service. The board met to consider offering additional mid-day runs and extending service on Saturday nights. However, in the midst of a heated discussion, they voted to kill Friday night service altogether.
The decision comes after a months-long debate, and against the desires of the DCTA staff, who presented numerous ideas on how to extend Friday night service to better meet the needs of riders, and take advantage of nightlife options in Denton and Dallas.Those ideas were ignored, however, in order to save an estimated $120,000, or roughly 0.47% of DCTA's yearly operating budget. As important as that money was to save, there are currently no plans for it.
On his blog, Denton City Council member Kevin Roden mourns the loss of potential the extended Friday night service, writing, "When building interest in public transportation in a state like Texas, you have to be patient and creative... We should be seeking new paths for selling public transportation to our car-centric culture."
And selling public transportation seems to be the sticking point. Public feedback told DCTA that mid-day service and extended Friday service was desired, but the board could put more solid estimates on the financial return of mid-day service. Yet one of the most common complaints about the A-Train's Friday schedule was that it didn't offer enough. Instead of fostering a vision of what the A-Train could be, DCTA has decided to play it safe. Those hoping for an option of public transit on Friday nights have been given a clear message: Just take your car.