The Denton County Transportation Authority announced plans in May to reabsorb bus operations and support staff from a local government corporation the agency established in 2019.

What happened?

The DCTA’s board of directors voted to end the agency’s agreement with the North Texas Mobility Corporation during a special called meeting May 16. The corporation, created by the DCTA in 2019, employed 78 people, including 53 active bus operators for the DCTA, according to a news release.

The action kicked off a process in which the DCTA will directly offer employment to all corporation employees, according to the news release.

“It is important for DCTA to be able to appropriately recognize the achievements of our bus operators and support staff, pay them a competitive wage with attractive benefits and position the bus operation for growth in the future,” CEO Paul Cristina said in a statement. “This action by our board today enables us to continue our positive momentum.”

The specifics

The corporation was created when bus operation was transitioned from a private operator formerly contracted with the DCTA. The agreement between the DCTA and the corporation enabled bus operators to be represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1338 chapter while operating buses for the DCTA.

As a public agency in Texas, the DCTA cannot collectively bargain with the union, according to the news release.

Key leaders at the corporation had resigned recently, causing a delay in collective bargaining negotiations between the NTMC and the union. The delay prevented the corporation from raising wages and hiring new bus operators, which put its ability to deliver bus services at risk, according to the news release.

What’s next?

All NTMC employees will be offered employment with the DCTA, according to the news release. Offer letters are expected to be distributed to employees in the coming days. Bus operators wishing to work as DCTA employees and still be represented by the ATU will be able to do so in a manner that complies with state law.

“It is important for us to care for our employees through this process, and we are committed to making the transition as seamless and easy as possible,” Cristina said.

Also of note

DCTA ridership across all modes grew 33% in 2023 and has grown 18% so far in 2024, according to the news release. On fixed bus routes, ridership increased 37% last year and another 26% this year, Cristina said.

Board chair TJ Gilmore said in a statement the move recognizes bus operators and their contribution to the DCTA’s success, and it enables the agency to add more bus routes in the future.

“Our goal is to move as many people as cost-effectively as possible,” he said. “The great service provided by our bus operators has enabled this growth, and DCTA staff has made the business case that fixed-route bus service can be the best tool to move people when the demand is there.”