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Transitioning from Traditional Transit to Mobility as a Service Provider

BY JIM CLINE
President
Denton County Transportation Authority
Lewisville, TX

Lower gasoline prices, increasing car ownership and competing technology and business services are among the main contributors to the “perfect storm” of declining ridership many public transit agencies are facing across the country.

As a result, these agencies must reimagine their traditional structure and integrate mobility services such as taxi service, bike sharing, public-private partnerships and on-demand app-based services.

A recent study from the Shared Use Mobility Center supports this idea with a key finding that “the more people use shared modes, the more likely they are to use public transit, own fewer cars and spend less on transportation overall.”

The Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) is expanding its focus to provide “mobility” instead of delivering “traditional transit.” Operating in a suburban region just north of Dallas, DCTA is offering more flexible and responsive mobility services to meet the growing needs of its transit-dependent, choice and occasional riders.

Our vision for the future is to provide a full spectrum of mobility options to most efficiently and effectively serve our diverse ridership base. In the last two years, DCTA has introduced multiple integrated mobility solutions that have positively impacted the agency and community using third-party providers, including taxis and ridesharing companies.

The agency has implemented a subsidized taxi voucher program for seniors, persons with disabilities and low-income residents in the McKinney Urban Transit District through the creation of Collin County Transit, a demand-response service in Frisco that serves older riders, persons with disabilities and eligible residents with medical transportation needs, and launched a discount program with Lyft to provide more transit options for those traveling within Highland Village and North Lewisville.

DCTA has introduced multiple integrated mobility solutions using third-party providers, including taxis and ridesharing companies.
DCTA has also been working with innovative technology partners to develop an app-based, on-demand platform to integrate into its fleet, which may be deployed in central business districts along fast-growth corridors, low-density suburban service areas or other first-mile, last-mile zones.


These mobility options complement other services offered by DCTA—A-train commuter rail, bus, campus shuttles, paratransit, demand-response and vanpools—which have enabled the agency to address first- and last-mile connections for its rail and bus routes and become a “broker of services” to member and contract cities, such that the mobility solutions are tailored to fit their communities’ unique and changing needs.

Denton and Collin counties are projected to be among the nation’s fastest-growing economies over the next five years, according to an Oxford Economics forecast. With DCTA serving both counties, the agency is determined to continue to provide more integrated mobility options to accommodate shifting rider behaviors and needs.

As DCTA looks to the future, the agency will continue to work with both private and public partners to explore new and innovative opportunities to serve its many riders and provide access to jobs and workers. Plans include expanding the agency’s Lyft partnership discount program to serve economic opportunity areas and developing a single integrated solution for information and payments across multiple mobile applications.

It’s essential for us at DCTA to continue to integrate a variety of mobility solutions to serve the growing and unique needs of North Texas, thereby transitioning from a traditional, public transit agency to a mobility-as-a-service provider.
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