4

Kevin Roden on the Loss of Friday Night A-Train Service: "It's Not a 'Fiscally Responsible' Argument. The Money is There."

^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

That pop you heard May 24 was the sound of a bubble bursting, one full of potential for expanded night service on the A-Train, Denton County's commuter train service. The bullies holding the pin were the Denton County Transit Authority (DCTA) board, who voted 6-5 to kill Friday night service instead of adding additional trips, in the name of "fiscal responsibility."

With two major universities, an internationally recognized arts scene and festivals such as 35 Denton and Arts & Jazz Fest, it makes sense Denton would want as many opportunities as possible to get people to town. An expanded night schedule would help ensure usable public transit options for students taking night classes or those attending shows at Dan's Silverleaf or Rubber Gloves. The DCTA board thought otherwise.

"You have to think about the impact of scaling back service at this point, after only a year, on the PR aspect and sense of goodwill among the community towards DCTA," says Kevin Roden, a Denton City Council member whose district includes downtown Denton. "When you have a rail system in decent form like this one, you should do whatever possible to make it easy for people to try." And, in fact, the DCTA staff offered many possibilities for expanding Friday service to get people to try it, but the board rejected them all.

The main argument offered for killing Friday service is "fiscal responsibility," yet the main advocate leading the charge is Tom Spencer, who represents areas that do not contribute to A-Train operations. The estimated $125,000 per year saved by canceling Friday night service is just a small percentage of the A-Train's $21 million yearly budget. According to a DCTA representative, there are currently no plans for that money.

Two years ago, when potential A-Train schedules were first released to the public, evening service was left off altogether. Lower than expected sales tax revenue and a lingering recession were blamed, but the issue was reconsidered after a public backlash. Limited Friday and Saturday night service was added to the schedule, but DCTA failed to provide enough options to find regular ridership.

"This issue is very different," Roden says. "They have the money to continue service. They have a surplus. They have more sales tax revenue from the three member cities than they anticipated at this point. ... It's not a 'fiscally responsible' argument. The money is there."

Roden urges citizens to contact DCTA and voice their concerns.

"My hope is that the board wouldn't want to be seen as lacking the vision necessary to make this train work and that there will be reconsideration."

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.