McKinney-area transit board discusses ways to improve Collin County Transit program

The McKinney Urban Transit District board discussed ways to improve the Collin County Transit program at an Aug. 14 meeting.

The McKinney Urban Transit District board discussed ways to improve the Collin County Transit program at an Aug. 14 meeting.

The McKinney Urban Transit District discussed potential updates to its current transit system during an Aug. 14 MUTD board meeting.

The MUTD board, which is made up by a handful of McKinney City Council members and representatives from Celina, Lowery Crossing, Princeton, Melissa and Prosper, makes transit decisions and handles transit funding for participating cities.

The Denton County Transportation Authority, which coordinates the Collin County Transit program for MUTD, proposed a few changes to the transit program at the meeting.

The transit launched in April 2017 and provides on-demand transportation for older adults, disabled and low-income residents in its service areas. According to DCTA, there are 518 participants in the program.

Currently, the transit operates as a voucher program, where qualifying riders pay for transportation using a reloadable debit card, and the MUTD adds triple the riders’ deposited amount onto the card to be used on travel fares.

However, DCTA  is proposing a new fare payment system, which would eliminate the debit card system. Riders would instead pay a flat fee of $3 for rides scheduled 24 hours in advance and $5 for rides scheduled the day of. This compares to the current average cost per trip of $16.59, according to a presentation given at the meeting.

"With the new fare structure, we hope more economically disadvantaged residents would sign up," said Anthony Cao, transit director for the city of McKinney.

In addition, DCTA is proposing to take on some responsibilities currently held by a third party taxi service, called Irving Holdings. The taxi company provides vehicles and drivers for the transit program and handles scheduling trips and loading the debit cards.

However, as discussed in previous MUTD meetings, there have been continual issues with Irving Holdings' customer services, such as showing up late to pick up riders or not showing up at all, according to DCTA representative Michelle Bloomer.

Bloomer said she believes turning over the responsibility of scheduling trips to DCTA and eliminating the debit card system will help improve the program's affordability and customer service.

In addition, several board members—including McKinney Mayor George Fuller, Mayor Pro Tem Rainey Rogers and city council member Scott Elliott—asked DCTA to look into other ways the transit program can reach other residents in participating cities that do not currently qualify.

Suggestions made by the board include potentially adding a "hardship" qualification to the transit program, in which residents in certain crisis situations may be eligible for the transit service. Another suggestion made by the board was to raise the minimum income level requirements so that more people may qualify under the low-income category.

Currently, the low-income levels are set according to the Health and Human Services' definition of low-income, according to Bloomer. For example, an annual household income for a single person would need to be $19,908 or less to qualify.

“We want to improve people’s quality of life with this transportation. That’s the overall goal," Elliott said.

At this time, no changes have been made, but a more formal proposal for future changes will be considered by the board at the next MUTD meeting on Nov. 13.

Find more information on the Collin County Transit and see eligibility requirements here.

Editor's note: The article has been updated to reflect that Rainey Rogers is Mayor Pro Tem and that 518 participants are in the program as of June 30. 
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By Emily Davis

Emily graduated from Sam Houston State University with a degree in multi-platform journalism and a minor in criminal justice in Spring 2018. During her studies, Emily worked as an editor and reporter at The Houstonian, SHSU's local newspaper. Upon graduation, she began an editorial internship at Community Impact Newspaper in DFW, where she was then hired as Community Impact's first McKinney reporter in August 2018.


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