Friday, July 19, 2024

DCTA: 12 years and a bright future for the A-train

Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) recently celebrated the 12th birthday of its A-train commuter rail line, which connects commuters from Denton County to Dallas County and the DFW region. The event was marked with celebration cookies handed out to passengers and a favorite memories campaign on social media outlets.

Looking back on its 12-year history, the launch of the A-train in 2011 placed DCTA among a very small number of transit agencies that support commuter rail operations, bus operations, on-demand rideshare and paratransit services.

And DCTA is also one of a very small number of agencies nationally which has seen a complete ridership recovery to pre-COVID levels, with continuing growth extending into this year (FY 2023). So far, DCTA is seeing ridership levels at 38% above last year for all transit modes.

“I am looking for but have yet to find another transit agency in the country with ridership recovery figures like ours at DCTA,” said CEO Paul Cristina in a DCTA Board meeting on June 22.

The A-train is also showing impressive recovery of ridership, but still has a long way to go. So far in 2023, A-train ridership is 28% above last year’s figure with 147-thousand riders taking the train through May. The American Public Transit Association says commuter rail has seen the slowest recovery in transit, so that makes these numbers more impressive.

As DCTA continues to promote the A-train and other services to new potential riders, the agency is also exploring several enhancements to the A-train to better serve the community and the region.

Already underway in project scoping and design is an expansion of the DCTA Rail Operations Center in Lewisville to add what will be known as the Joint Rail Operations Facility (JROF), a collaborative effort with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) which will allow DART to store and maintain its soon-to-be-arriving Silver Line commuter rail train cars at the A-train facility.

Alongside that project, DCTA is exploring the possibility of extending the A-train line past Trinity Mills (the current end of the line) to the Downtown Carrollton DART station, which will allow Denton County riders to directly connect to the DART Silver Line commuter rail for efficient one-stop connections to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport or to Plano. The DART Silver Line from Plano to DFW Airport is expected to start service later this decade.

DCTA is also studying potential enhancements to the A-train’s posted schedule to increase headways (frequencies) for train customers. Currently, the A-train departs both Denton and Trinity Mills every half-hour on weekdays, and hourly on Saturdays. The schedule enhancements may make more frequent departures possible, giving riders more convenient connection options.

Among the most exciting possibilities, DCTA is also working with cities and partners to explore transit-oriented development options around several A-train stations. The potential for development around rail stations is endless, when you think about shopping, dining, residential and mixed-use developments located within walking distance of dependable transit.

Finally, the A-train also offers a fantastic amenity for outdoor lovers with its 19-mile A-train Rail Trail, a bicycle and walking trail that connects to many other park facilities and trails. Recently, DCTA hosted a National Trails Day event which attracted 200 participants on a warm Saturday in June, showing the trail is an attractive amenity for the community. An additional segment of the Rail Trail is planned to connect to downtown Carrollton and the DFW Regional Veloweb, which gives bicyclists, pedestrians and other non-motorized movers a five-hundred mile selection of trails to ride, with plans for up to 2,100 miles in all.

(Sponsored content)

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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