Tag Archives: DCTA

A-train recon

I took a packed A-train down to Dallas on Friday night. Riding it over Loop 288 and the lake was an absolute treat. Being able to walk downtown, board the train, and ride to Dallas felt miraculous. I couldn’t stop wondering what other useful and fun destinations might exist around the other stops.

I’ve heard from several people that taking bikes on the train was fine, and some held the bike in the aisle (leaning against seats), and some held the bike in the handicapped area at the front of the car.

Jeremy Ordaz, owner of Oak Cliff Bike Company, said several customers took the train to Dallas and rode to the shop. The traffic goes both ways, as I ran into a friend from Oak Cliff exploring Denton for the first time in a decade, because of the train.

Initial thoughts:

  • It might be slower than driving (in good traffic), but there is high value in talking to friends, reading, listening to music, etc. It’s your time, on the train.
  • Downtown Denton has a ton of fun destinations within walking distance, easily more than the other DCTA stops.
  • Those destinations are all across Bell Ave, which has no crosswalk. This needs to be corrected ASAP. It’s unthinkable that this was left out of the station planning process. It’s a safety risk for pedestrians and a liability for the city.
  • There’s no wayfinding at the station, so you arrive in a desolate industrial area, and nothing points you toward the square.
  • Despite endless skepticism and challenges, DCTA made it happen. Bravo!

Downtown Denton Train Station

DCTA A-train full on opening week

DART green line

Weldon's Western Welcome

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DCTA A-train launch bikey details

new wave racks at DCTA train station downtown

Denton celebrated the opening of it’s first passenger rail line on September 30, 1924. Nearly a century later, in just a few weeks, (on June 18) DCTA will throw an opening day bash for the A-train passenger line. The Rock N’ Rail celebration will give free train rides and host festivities at each station. There will be bands, food, etc. They need a bunch of volunteers, around 150, so if you want to help, fill out this DCTA volunteer form.

There are a few key details people should know about biking and the A-train:

  • You can’t bring a bike on the train for opening day. The trains will be too crowded to fit bikes, and DCTA generously allows bikes on board anytime after opening day.
  • The train cars will be an older style for the first 18 months, so they won’t have bike hooks. If you want to take a bike on board, you’ll have to securely hold it.
  • DCTA asks that people load bikes on the train via the stairs, not the ramps.
  • The rail trail re-opens concurrent with the train service. Denton Parks & Rec asks that people stay off the trail till June 18.
  • Pictured above are nicer wave bike racks at the downtown station for about 40 bikes.
The celebration is noon to 4PM, and it’s going to be a blast. Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios will have $.75-1.00 drink specials next door, and the Querencia Community Bike Shop will be open from 3-5PM. E.
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Interview With UNT Transportation Director, Joe Richmond

photo credit: UNT Inhouse Magazine

Thanks so much for talking with us. What is your background leading to your position as Transportation Director at UNT?

I initially worked as a shuttle bus driver for UT Austin, before I went to work for Capital Metro in Austin, just as they were born. I worked at Capital Metro for 18 years. I actually had an office on the UT campus while I worked for Capital Metro.

We see more cyclists riding on campus every year. Is cycling ridership increasing at UNT, and do you know if it’s been recently measured?

I don’t have a scientific method for measuring, but the bike racks appear to be at capacity. We have around 2500 bikes parked on campus. We purchased 100 racks and placed them strategic locations on campus.

Cycling was recently decriminalized on campus, and many bike racks have been installed.  What drove these changes?

We had a  bike consultant come in and provide us with a Campus Bicycle Master Plan which was adopted by the UNT  board of Regents in 2006. One of their recommendations was to install racks near entrances to the buildings. This came from a series of  focus groups. I was intimately involved with the study

Is demand still increasing, and do you think more racks will be installed?

Yes!

Dallas just hired a bike coordinator, and Fort Worth and Austin have published ambitious master bicycle plans. For their efforts, all three cities are attracting national attention. Would you like to see comprehensive bike and pedestrian plans in Denton, especially given the advantage of Denton’s smaller city size?

Yes, I think the time is right. Based on the growth and the alternative transportation initiatives, the stars are lining up right for Denton. All we’re missing is infrastructure and policies. The demand, energy, need, and social acceptance are already here.  In my opinion, Denton is perfect for this. I can close my eyes and see corridors with bikes, buses, and pedestrians.   No single occupancy vehicles.

If your department advocates cycling and walking, does that conflict with UNT Parking services which collect income from drivers?

UNT Parking and Transportation work as a TDM model, “Travel Demand Management”, and we want people to come to this university and have a pleasant experience. Fewer cars on campus equal less congestion, pollution, and aggravation.

UNT Transportation services have recently undergone huge increases in bus capacity, routes, handicap access, and bicycle accommodation during the last few years. Did you oversee this transition, and do you consider it a success?

I absolutely consider this a success. The student fee was voted and accepted by the UNT Board of Regents in 2002, and the service was first operated by a private contractor, Noble Coaches. I think the ridership back then was about one thousand per day with the city operating one route for UNT and their LINK system. Then, we agreed to operate 10 buses, purchased by UNT, in conjuction with Denton. The service continued to grow, so we bought used buses from Dallas. We transferred ownership of 15 buses from DART to the City of Denton. We had 27 buses total, and then DCTA received their funding to come into existence from area cities. The city was amiable to transferring the assets from DCTA, so DCTA took over the service. This is directly patterned after the UT/Capital Metro relationship.

(Joe provided data with which I created the following graph)

How many buses does UNT currently use?

UNT owns 12 buses, DCTA provides the rest for a total of 27.
UNT bus service accounts for about 85% of DCTA’s total ridership.

The City of Denton has shown renewed interest in multi-modal transit, especially with the DCTA A-train coming soon. Do you anticipate many students will commute to UNT via the train?

Yes, 200 students ride the Commuter Express every day from Lewisville and Dallas, and we expect this number to continue to increase.

Are there any related transit plans to ease passage between the train station and the UNT campus?

Absolutely. DCTA is looking to provide efficient links to the universities from the rail stations.

In what ways do you anticipate transit services to evolve at UNT in the future?

A totally walk and roll campus

I’d like to see enhanced and improved connections to major off-campus Denton destinations. I think we serve the students quite well, getting them from off campus housing to campus. I’d like to see more cycling and walking. We have a web-based rideshare program, customized to the UNT community. We also have a late-night E-ride service from 9PM-2AM on-campus only.

This fall, we’re starting a car-sharing program so students/employees can rent cars by the hours. It’s becoming very popular on dense urban environments and campuses. We’ll have 2 Priuses, 1 Camry, and a Ford Escape. The hourly rates will start as low as $8/hour. Reservations can be made online, and users receive an access card so they’ll never have to go to a counter or deal with a person.

The one bike lane on campus runs along Avenue C. It has a huge pothole alongside the music building, and cars park in it constantly. Can this bike lane be improved?

We don’t consider it an official bike lane.

A few years ago, at a President Pohl sack lunch, UNT administrative staff expressed plans to develop separated pedestrian and cycling paths. Does UNT intend to further expand bicycle routes or implement separated cycling/walking paths?

I don’t think we’re going to implement separated paths, this is working pretty well. We periodically check with Risk Management to see if there are any pedestrian/cyclist accidents, and there are no reported injury accidents to date.

Do you ever walk or cycle on campus?

I prefer walking; I can get across campus in 10 minutes and see users of campus transportation, see full bike racks, hear the music, and I feel like part of the campus community. You get the campus experience. Nothing will give you the campus experience like taking a 10 minute walk through UNT. You’ll see loneliest people in town in their cars.

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DCTA Rail Trail to eventually cross Lake Lewisville

DCTAbikepedlakecrossing

Last night at DCTA’s Citizen Advisory Committee meeting in Denton, Boris Palchik of DCTA reaffirmed that DCTA does intend to eventually build the Rail Trail across the lake and along the full DCTA A-train line.  The A-train website also states this and describes future intent to connect to other regional trails:

The trail, which will begin in Denton and ultimately connect all five DCTA stations, will parallel the DCTA rail and will tie into a pedestrian bridge being developed by TXDOT over Lewisville Lake. Connections to other municipal trails are also being coordinated.

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DCTA “Dump the Pump” Day

Denton Record-Chronicle’s BJ Lewis mentions that DCTA is giving free bus rides today in celebration of national Dump the Pump day.

Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, Dump the Pump Day encourages people to save money, protect the environment, reduce oil dependency and improve air quality, said Dee Leggett, DCTA vice president for communications and planning.

“In today’s economic climate, any way you can pinch pennies and save money is good, and public transportation can do that,” she said. “It’s smarter environmentally, smarter on your pocketbook and leaves discretionary money in other areas of their life rather than putting it into cars.”

Individuals can save more than $8,000 annually by taking public transportation instead of driving, and living with one less car, according to the association’s Web site.

I use the DCTA service quite often, sometimes daily, and it works in nice harmony with cycling in Denton.  They’ve transitioned almost all the buses to have front bicycle racks, and the coverage has expanded nicely in recent years.

Dee’s comments are relevant and true, and I’d say they’re also apropos for cycling instead of driving.  I sold my car two years ago, and now my wife and I share the remaining car, although we both cycle far more than we drive.  The financial, health, and happiness benefits have been really noticeable, and really welcome.

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Bike Rack at recent DCTA public meeting

So beautiful.

img_0389

Here’s a recap of what we learned from DCTA at the meeting:

  • new Rail Trail will be 8 ft wide, paved, with 3 ft wide paved shoulders
  • (quite handsome) white stone sound barrier wall between trail and rail
  • first 18 months of operation, DCTA will use ooooold rail cars, full diesel, with no bike accommodations.  However, when asked if we could bring bikes on the train, the DCTA director responded that we could as long as no wheelchairs are displaced.  After 18 months, we’ll see the newer hybrid-diesel ground level cars with 4-6 bike hooks each.
  • the train will not run on Sundays
  • train will traverse loop 288 via an overpass
  • yes, the current rail trail will be interrupted during construction, and they’ll be building the new trail and rail simultaneously.  Both will be done in segments.
  • DCTA seemed to appreciate the participation of Denton cyclists.  They mentioned that they’d love to have a cyclist on the DCTA citizen advisory board.  The DCTA directors came by the bike racks and made friendly conversation after the meeting.
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DCTA A-Train & Rail Trail meeting tonight, 6:30

Our friends at Querencia Community Bike Shop just posted up a handy reminder that DCTA is hosting a public meeting about the coming A-Train for DCTA.  This is a huge change for Denton, and we’ve heard that the last public meeting had about 30 attendees.  If 10 of us show up on bicycle, that’s a huge representative sample of the interested community.  If you ride a bicycle and are concerned/interested in the transit station downtown and bike accommodations on the train, NOW is the time to ask.  

I’ve heard that the train will be built on top of the existing rail trail, and supposedly the rail trail will be rebuilt later.  I’d like to ask about the timeline for when the trail will be rebuilt, because I rely on it for safe passage to Loop 288 stores.  

Will the train cars have bike hooks?  If they do, imagine the possibilities.  Bike camping, riding in Dallas, etc.  

Public Meeting, 6:30PM

Fred Moore High School Gym
815 Cross Timber St
Denton, TX 76205

Near the intersection of Robertson St. and Morse St.


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