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By Nichole Jordan
Nichole Jordan is the Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Community Affairs at Via, the leader in TransitTech.
In 2018, Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) — the transit agency in Texas which operates transit systems in the cities of Denton, Highland Village, and Lewisville — began looking at on-demand transit to replace several underperforming fixed routes and complement existing commuter rail. In 2021, DCTA launched GoZone, a large-scale on-demand transit service designed to meet the needs of existing bus riders and draw thousands of new Denton County residents into the public transit network across all three cities.
“Fixed-route service has a static schedule with designated stops, and that doesn’t work for everyone,” DCTA officials said in an interview with Community Impact.
Since its launch, this mobility offering has proved to be hugely popular, exceeding ridership expectations and growing rapidly. At a time when public transit is still struggling to recover pre-pandemic ridership, GoZone has been able to continue growing ridership since launch. Now GoZone is serving 15,000 rides per week, with an average wait time of just 16 minutes.
Beyond passenger volume and service quality, the impact on riders most in need of transit has been an important metric for transit leaders in Denton County. A recent survey of GoZone riders revealed:
- 70% don’t own or cannot access a personal car, limiting mobility in absence of public transit.
- Nearly half of riders report their annual household income is less than $25k, making car ownership or private transportation more difficult to obtain.
- 55% of respondents say they use GoZone for its affordability, and 23% said they are able to travel more often as a result of GoZone. As one rider observed, “If GoZone was not available I’d have difficulty getting around the area. Lyft and Uber can be very expensive just to take a trip to the store.”
- 84% of ridership would be disappointed if they could no longer use GoZone. For 1 in 5 riders, GoZone is their only viable transit option. “It’s my only source of transportation to get to and from the train station,” another rider reported.
“We have heard from so many people about how much they love the service,” said Javier Trilla, Assistant Vice President of Innovation & Information Technology at DCTA in an interview with Community Impact. “Parents are excited about it for their high school kids that aren’t driving yet. They can get their kids to and from things like baseball, band practice and other after-school activities since children 13 and above can ride with adult permission but without an adult present.”
Now, with GoZone’s one-year anniversary approaching, the service has carried over 470k riders up to date. Riders can download Via from the App Store or Google Play store or call 940-243-0077 to set up their ride.