LEWISVILLE — Turnover continues to churn in the DCTA boardroom, but that doesn’t seem to have affected passenger satisfaction with transit services.
The Denton County Transportation Authority released results of its biennial passenger survey during the board meeting Thursday afternoon, as acting chairwoman Dianne Costa accepted the resignation of yet another longtime member, David Kovatch.
“I woke up in Las Vegas this morning,” he said. He had planned to get home Wednesday night, but his flight was canceled because of severe weather. He arrived late to Thursday’s meeting as a result.
Kovatch said he had been thinking about resigning for a while, having bought a house in Kentucky, his home state. The schedule upset cemented his decision, he said as he turned in his resignation letters at the end of the meeting.
DCTA spokeswoman Adrienne Hamilton shared some of the highlights of the passenger survey during a work session earlier in the afternoon. More than half of the survey respondents said they rode with DCTA daily.
DCTA ran the survey in April, extending it an extra week and offering additional incentives to get more than 2,600 responses — a little more than the number surveyed two years ago.
The amount represented about 20% of the month’s ridership, Hamilton said.
Overall, riders consider DCTA trains and buses as both affordable and safe. They also reported employees to be courteous and helpful.
For the first time, DCTA’s A-train Rail Trail, a biking and hiking amenity that runs almost the entire length of the rail line, was in the top five “modes” users reported.
The most common transit mode among the survey respondents was the UNT bus service, followed by the A-train and Connect (Denton and Lewisville) buses.
The survey also asked people who had tried the new zone bus service to rate their satisfaction. DCTA runs buses in both Denton’s and Lewisville’s industrial parks, where people can schedule rides using a mobile app. Of the 90 survey respondents who rode the Lewisville zone bus, 94% rated the service as good or excellent. Of the 148 who rode the Denton Airport Zone bus, 86% rated the service as good or excellent.
The survey also examined the potential for riders to try zone buses and what their expectations might be. A total of 76% said they were willing to try hailing a bus.
But things got a little more complicated when looking at expectations, such as how long riders would wait for a ride or expect to be on the bus getting to their destination. Nearly 80% of the riders said they would not wait more than 20 minutes for a hailed ride, with 32% saying they wouldn’t wait more than 10 minutes. More than 60% said they didn’t want to spend more than 30 minutes on the bus, with 34% saying the ride needed to be less than 20 minutes.
With Kovatch’s resignation, Costa is the only remaining member of the DCTA executive committee following the transition that shrank the board’s voting membership from 14 to five.
The Texas Legislature passed a measure this session that concentrated the voting power with the government entities that have funded the agency since its inception. DCTA gets most of its annual operating budget from a half-cent sales tax collected in Denton, Lewisville and Highland Village. The five voting members include representatives from those three cities, plus two representatives from the county.
Kovatch was an at-large representative for Denton County. The county’s other representative before the transition was Don Hartman. County commissioners discussed their appointments in closed session this week, but did not take a public vote on the matter.
Costa is Highland Village’s representative to the board of directors. Denton Mayor Chris Watts and Lewisville City Council member TJ Gilmore joined the board after the new law went into effect in mid-May.
The board’s original chairman, Charles Emery, resigned earlier this spring, making room for Gilmore’s appointment. During a break in the proceedings and at the beginning of Thursday’s meeting, the board and executive staff formally recognized Emery and his wife, Elaine, for his 17 years of service to the agency.
DCTA President Raymond Suarez told Kovatch his announcement surprised them, but they planned to invite him back to recognize his service, too.