DCTA hopes to launch SH 121 commuter bus service from Lewisville to McKinney

The Denton County Transportation Authority will hold a transportation forum Nov. 14 to gauge interest from municipalities and transportation authorities on a potential bus commuter service that would run from Old Town Lewisville to downtown McKinney with stops in Frisco, Plano and The Colony.

The DCTA commuter service along the SH 121/Sam Rayburn Tollway corridor would be called Route 70 and would be an approximately 40-minute, one-way commute from Lewisville to McKinney.

DCTA Communications Manager Adrienne Hamilton said the bus route would provide riders with a low-cost solution to get to work or entertainment districts.

“In the [SH 121] area there is access to approximately 160,0000 jobs along this corridor,” she said. “Folks that are working and don’t have a car, [this service]provides them with an low-cost option to get to and from work in a fast-growing corridor.”

Hamilton said the bus fare has not yet been decided.

DCTA is looking to partner with a ride-hailing company such as Uber or Lyft on this project to provide on-demand, first-and last-mile service within the drop-off and pick-up areas.

The proposed drop-off/pick-up locations include destination points in McKinney such as Medical City McKinney and Craig Ranch, Legacy West in Plano, Hall Park and The Star in Frisco, Grandscape in The Colony and Old Town Lewisville.

Hamilton said DCTA is hoping to see the project launch within the next two years.

“[The timeline] is dependent on stakeholder feedback and commitment from the different cities for us to move forward,” she said.

Hamilton said DCTA is looking for each city and transportation management authority, or TMA—which Frisco and Plano has—to commit to funding as well as having stops.

A TMA is a membership organization formed to provide a forum for employers, developers, building owners, local government representatives and others to work together to collectively establish policies, programs and services to address local transportation needs and air quality issues within a specified geographical area.

Hamilton said at this time the authority has no plans to fund the bus service through the one-half cent sales tax that it collects from the cities of Denton, Lewisville and Highland Village to fund its commuter rail service.

“We did submit an application for a Federal Transportation Administration grant,” Hamilton said. “This grant would help with a potential park-and-ride facility in McKinney, buses and any kind of matching funds to entities like the North Central Texas Council of Governments, and of course there would be contingency and different marketing things we would have to do there.”

If the proposal comes to fruition, Hamilton said DCTA would use its current bus fleet for the route with the long-term goal of having commuter coach vehicles.

“And these [coach buses]would have passenger amenities such as free wifi, the ability to plug in your phone or computer, things like that,” she said. “It would definitely be a comfortable ride.”

As cities and transportation authorities ponder on ways to help alleviate growing traffic counts, Hamilton said she believes this proposal will help.

“This is huge to sustain growth because we have some of the fastest-growing cities in the nation along this corridor, and with companies continuing to choose areas along this corridor to build their next headquarters or office it will just continue to grow,” she said. “And to really support jobs, economic development and things like that, this service is something that we think will be a great asset to many communities along [SH] 121. This will link major developments from McKinney to Old Town Lewisville.”