The robust commuter rail service is not only for Denton County residents, Director of Marketing and Communications David Magaña said.
“It can get you to Victory Park, to the Fort Worth Stockyards, to the Perot Museum and various other attractions,” he said.
Magaña said the DCTA uses very modern trains, which makes for a comfortable ride. The A-train offers five stations which are also served by DCTA’s GoZone on-demand ridesharing service as well as connectivity to bus services at the Downtown Denton Transit Center.
The five A-Train stations include:
- Downtown Denton Transit Center (DDTC)
- MedPark Station
- Highland Village/Lewisville Lake Station
- Old Town Station
- Hebron Station
- DART Trinity Mills Station (Green Line Connection)
Senior Director of Rail Operations Rony Philip said the DCTA’s commuter trains use state-of-the-art technology manufactured by Stadler Rail, based in Switzerland. The trains use technology which is focused on fuel efficiency and minimizing air pollution.
“The DCTA is diesel-powered and has focused heavily on providing the residents of Denton County with a pollution-free ride across the 21.3 miles of track,” Philip said.
Philip said as part of the Rail Improvement Act in 2008, all major freight and commuter rail operators were asked by the Federal Railroad Administration to implement Positive Train Control, a federal effort to increase train rail safety across the nation. The DCTA projectwas certified by the FRA in December 2020 and is one of the first rails in Texas to implement the protocol.
Ridership growth and future expansion
Like most transit agencies in the country, DCTA saw a decrease in ridership in 2020, Senior Manager of Rail Operations Alex McGlinchey said. But now, A-train ridership numbers are steadily increasing. In 2021, DCTA saw 113,000 riders and 176,000 riders in 2022.
“Now, just through two months of fiscal year 23, we’ve already got a little over 55,000 riders,” McGlinchey said. “So we're definitely on a positive trend again on ridership.”
The transit authority is also trying to create a schedule that is easy for riders to remember, he said. The trains leave the Downtown Denton Transit Center and the DART Trinity Mills Station at the top and bottom of the hour.
To run with such a high level of frequency, the system has regular vehicle maintenance as well as crossing replacements.
“It accomplishes two goals: it helps enhance safety and it also helps improve the passenger experience,” McGlinchey said.
DCTA is always working to enhance its services, and right now, the transit authority is in the middle of a feasibility study looking at extending the A-train to Downtown Carrollton where it would connect with the future DART Silver Line. This connection would eventually allow riders to take the A-train to Carrollton, get on the Silver Line and go to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
Philip said the engineering study is evaluating the needs of both DCTA and Carrollton as well as exploring funding possibilities. The study is currently in its final stages and when complete, will be presented to the DCTA Board for further recommendations.
Services and amenities
A special amenity most riders may not know about is the A-train Rail Trail, a biking, walking and jogging trail that runs along the length of the A-train, Magaña said. The trail, built in collaboration with Denton County, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, and the Texas Department of Transportation, features rest areas, walking paths, benches, trash cans as well as safety features for bikers and joggers and connects to many other parks and trails in Denton County.
“Whether you’re a pedestrian, cyclist or runner, you can use the trail to visit destinations within the Member cities: Denton, Highland Village and Lewisville,” he said.
Magaña said he can vouch from personal experience that the A-train is a great way to take a “day-cation.”
“Over the holidays, I brought my family and let each of the kids invite some friends,” he said. We went on a day trip to Denton and had a ball. I really appreciated not having to drive around and enjoyed the ride very much, so I would encourage everybody to keep in mind that mass transit is a wonderful option.”
DCTA is also mindful of community events and makes an effort to have trains available later into the night when there are events in downtown Dallas. DCTA runs operations Monday through Saturday, which offers passengers flexibility in their transportation needs.
DCTA’s A-train schedule:
- Monday-Thursday: 67 trains running at 30-minute frequency
- Friday: 69 trains running at 30-minute frequency
- Saturday: 31 trains running hourly
GoZone Guaranteed Ride Home hours of operation:
- Monday through Thursday: 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
- Friday and Saturday: 10 p.m.-2 a.m.
“There's a simple form on our website that you fill out, and then people can actually park their cars there, hop on the train and go on their trip without that added expense of parking,” she said.
For more information about the A-train, GoZone, the Rail Trail and more, visit the DCTA’s website here.
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