The Denton County Transportation Authority board voted during a Dec. 2 meeting to extend the Connect bus service in Denton through September 2022 while discontinuing the bus services in Lewisville later this month. The extension to Denton’s bus system comes with a price tag of more than $1 million.
GoZone has been operating in tandem with the DCTA's public bus service since it launched in September in Lewisville, Highland Village and Denton. During that time, Lewisville and Highland Village have seen an increase in on-demand ridership.
In October, GoZone saw 30,922 passengers countywide, according to Via officials. Via is the company that partnered with the DCTA to offer GoZone services to residents. Residents in Lewisville had low ridership on the Connect bus, which resulted in the decision to suspend its services.
If the bus system there had been extended like in Denton, it would have cost the DCTA another $727,841 through September.
Lewisville Mayor TJ Gilmore, who is also a DCTA board member, recommended suspending the bus system in the city and relying on GoZone for public transportation. He said Lewisville residents now use GoZone more than Connect while Denton residents still use both. He said he would rather see more GoZone resources put into Lewisville over more investment in the bus service.
“In my mind, that is an equitable solution for the differences in the two cities,” he said. "We don't have to supply equal services but equitable services.”
With the focus on GoZone, Gilmore urged DCTA and Via to maintain a flat rate for rides in Lewisville and Highland Village, and not charge more for longer trips. That was also discussed during the meeting. A one-way GoZone ride costs $0.75.
Via officials recommended using both GoZone and Connect, and being strategic in the rides. One proposal suggested using Connect for longer routes and GoZone for shorter routes. Mileage prices would be used to push people to take a Connect bus for those longer trips.
Without Connect, Gilmore did not want Lewisville or Highland Village residents to be discouraged from using GoZone since it will be the only public transportation option, he said.
A multimodal transportation system will be available in the GoZone app in Denton County starting no later than March, Via officials said.
A presentation on updated ridership and data will be shared in June.