On Sept. 7, Denton County Transportation Authority officially launched its GoZone rideshare program, which is in collaboration with New York-based transportation company Via Transportation, to mixed reactions.
“The driver arrived in about five minutes,” Denton resident Suzi Ruhmohr said. “A friend rode GoZone and told me her driver arrived within three minutes. So it’s pretty quick. The wait time isn’t that long.”
Ruhmohr ran into issues with the pickup and drop-off, saying it was “a bit awkward.”
“If you try opening the app and try to get a ride you’ll sort of see on the map on your phone where to go, kind of,” Ruhmohr said. “But that location isn’t necessarily a good place to stand. It’s not necessarily a safe place for you to be picked up.”
The GoZone application functions similarly to Lyft or Uber, allowing for a rider to hail the nearest GoZone van.
“My ride experience was fine, especially for the price compared with Uber or Lyft,” Denton resident Paula Blackwell said. “Both drivers were nice and chatty, but neither was from Denton and didn’t recognize when their maps were sending them the wrong way, like going one exit too far on I-35 or trying to cross a road that’s been barricaded for a while now. I think GoZone will naturally improve as they work the kinks out of a new system, but their maps seem to have problems.”
While other rideshare services are set for direct address pickups, the Via app works on a MicroTransit system. Via describes the system as a virtual bus stop, having riders walk a block or longer to arrive at their pick-up location. This system has caused a bit of confusion for passengers along with drivers.
“I drive Uber all the time, GoZone is like driving for Uber with shorter trips,” GoZone driver Mohammed Elgohary said. “It’s horrible, I hate it, I hate the GPS. I’d like the option to call the customer […] if I arrive to a spot and the customer is not there, maybe the customer’s just around the corner. I’d like to be able to talk to them so I can see where they are.”
The on-demand rideshare service is acting as a replacement for multiple DCTA services. Sept. 6 marks the end of the Lewisville Lakeway On-Demand Zone, Downtown Denton Transit Center Evening On-Demand Zone, Highland Village Lyft Program and Lewisville to Flower Mound Lyft Program.
The Denton and Lewisville Connect bus routes will run until Dec. 6. Unless the DCTA board extends this overlap period or takes other action, Denton Routes 1, 2, 4 and 6 will be removed. Lewisville Routes 21 and 22 will also be discontinued.
The fates of Denton Routes 3 and 7 are still unclear, as the pair will run for six months following the launch of GoZone. These routes were previously identified as “of particular interest to our UNT partners” by DCTA Community Relations Director Mary Worthington. None of the 12 university shuttles will be affected.
Unlike the Connect routes, GoZone will not be free to students. The program is initially running a promotion allowing riders their first four rides for free until Oct. 7. While the regular GoZone fare is still undecided, a promotional rate for the first six months of the program has been set at $0.75 a day pass, $3 for a weeklong pass and $48 for a monthlong pass.
Featured Image: Signs advertising Denton’s new GoZone rideshare service are displayed at the Downtown Transit Center on Sept. 12, 2021. Photo by Meredith Holser