Local Motion - March 2019

3/4/2019
In this issue
 

AirCheckTexas program winding down



The AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Program will be winding down soon. The last day to submit an application for assistance with vehicle repair or replacement is April 8.

Administered by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, AirCheckTexas has helped qualifying motorists repair or replace more than 71,000 vehicles since 2002. AirCheckTexas is one of the many programs helping improve air quality of the region, which is in nonattainment for ozone and working to meet federal air quality standards.

Motorists whose vehicles failed the emissions portion of the annual State inspection within the past 30 days or are at least 10 years old are eligible for assistance if they meet the income guidelines. A family of four with an annual household income of $77,250 or less, for example, can qualify for assistance.

The program offers residents who meet the income and vehicle requirements vouchers of up to $3,500 toward newer, cleaner-burning vehicles and up to $600 toward emissions repairs. The cleaner-burning cars replacing the older vehicles have led to an annual savings of 140 tons of nitrogen oxides. For more, visit www.airchecktexas.org.

Since its inception, AirCheckTexas has provided $121 million in financial assistance to qualifying motorists in nine North Texas counties. There is $18.3 million of dedicated funding remaining. Any money not spent will be returned to the State. The program was fully funded by the 85th Legislature in 2017, but funding was then vetoed by the governor.

The Regional Transportation Council is supporting an effort to reinstate a modernized version of the program focusing on air quality and transportation mobility. Counties would have the option to offer a similar repair and replacement program in the future, if passed.


Ozone season underway in North Texas




Ozone season begins March 1 and goes through the end of November. Some may be wondering what ozone season entails, and others may already know, but would like some ideas on how to help create better air quality in the region. Well, look no further.
Ozone season is the time when ground-level ozone, a common air pollutant, reaches its highest concentration. Ozone forms when volatile organic compounds combine with sunlight and intense heat. For example, pollution can occur when emissions from power plants, vehicles, dry cleaners and more are exposed to heat. The air quality index (AQI) is used to report daily air quality levels in the region to help better understand the severity of pollution and related health impacts. The AQI ranges from one to 500. The national standard is 100. The standard was created to protect human and environmental health as ground-level ozone is monitored. Any range above 100 is considered unsafe. For the current AQI in the region, visit

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Breathing outdoor air could be especially dangerous for people with asthma or respiratory problems, young children or senior citizens. During days with high levels of ozone, people could experience coughing, throat irritation, chest tightening, pain, burning or discomfort when taking a deep breath, or shortness of breath. As a North Texan, stay air aware and protect your health by knowing daily air quality levels and working to reduce pollution in your area.
Consider making a few simple changes in your daily life. A great first step would be to sign up for air pollution alerts at www.airnorthtexas.org/signup to stay informed about the AQI. When the index is orange, red or purple, it can be unsafe for most groups to go outside. When the index is green or yellow, the air is safe for most groups. Other ways to combat high ozone include reducing idling, carpooling, taking your lunch to work and conserving water and electricity. For more clean air action ideas visit www.airnorthtexas.org/howto.

Friday, June 21, 2019 is Clean Air Action Day. Consider doing at least one thing on this day to improve air quality. Share your actions on social media by including #CAAD2019 on your post or tagging @NCTCOGtrans. You may even be able to win a prize! Visit www.airnorthtexas.org/cleanairactionday for a list of clean air choices you can make on this day and submit the choice you plan to make.

Regional energy feedback requested


NCTCOG is asking member governments to identify the region's most crucial energy management needs and to prioritize the development of appropriate resources. To assist local governments in this effort, NCTCOG is requesting feedback via an online survey to develop region-wide energy efficiency workshops and resources as part of a Regional Energy Manager Project. To access the survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/NorthTexasEnergySurvey. The goal is energy efficiency, as required by a law approved during the 82nd Texas Legislature. Under Senate Bill 898 political subdivisions, institutes of higher education and state agencies in nonattainment areas or affected counties must set goals to reduce energy consumption by at least 5 percent each year and to report the goal and energy use to the State Energy Conservation Office.

DART GoPass offers new trip-planning features


Dallas Area Rapid Transit's GoPass users are enjoying new ways to plan the trips they want the way they want them with new real-time trip-planning tools and mobility choices.

GoPass gives customers mobile ticketing for transit throughout North Texas including DART, Trinity Railway Express, Trinity Metro and the Denton County Transportation Authority.GoLink, DART's on-demand shuttle service, is now integrated into DART's GoPass app for riders in Rowlett, Inland Port and Rylie/Kleberg.

The neighborhood service is flexible and available when you need it for work or just to run errands. For commuters that need a trip around town on a scooter, the addition of Bird locations to GoPass makes finding the closest ride quick and easy. The newest update to GoPass also gives our customers a new way to pay for their trips with the addition of Apple Pay.
Launched in 2013, GoPass is available for free in the App Store or on Google Play.
—By Dallas Area Rapid Transit

Task force tackling UAS issues


The use of Unmanned Aerial Systems continues to grow quickly as the technology evolves. The number of UAS hobbyists is expected to grow to 2.4 million by 2022, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. This would represent more than twice as many unmanned aircraft as were in the skies in 2017.
Commercial use is anticipated to expand rapidly as well. It is expected to grow from 110,604 to 461,800 over the same five-year period. Potential commercial uses for UAS include disaster relief, medical emergencies and transportation of cargo.

NCTCOG assembled the North Texas UAS Safety and Integration Task Force to serve as an information “clearinghouse” for academia, public- and private-sector entities, and the general public. To effectively address integration issues and carry out solutions, the task force has formed working groups focused on education and public awareness, legislation, training, and integration. Each working group is responsible for identifying specific issues, providing recommendations and determining the scale of the solution, and the funding required. The working groups will:

• Create a public outreach strategy
• Explore methods to educate the public on the safe use of UAS technology in the region’s airspace
• Weigh in on industry legislative concerns
• Establish or recommend a standardized training curriculum
• Survey regional businesses on current employment needs
• Designate UAS platform test areas
• Monitor changes in laws, rules and regulations affecting the UAS industry

NASA, in collaboration with Task Force partners, will soon be testing UAS technology in the region in an effort to provide commercial operators a better understanding of the issues associated with unmanned flights in urban areas. This will be an integral step forward for concurrent manned and unmanned operations with an eye toward full autonomy. For information on the task force, including materials from past meetings, visit www.nctcog.org/trans/plan/aviation/uas.

Public to receive funding, AQ updates March 11


NCTCOG will host a public meeting in March to provide updates on several transportation funding programs and air quality initiatives, including the Regional Air Quality and Management and Operations Program, the Assessment Policy Program, AirCheckTexas and the 2019 ozone season. The meeting will take place at NCTCOG’s Arlington offices, 616 Six Flags Drive, at 6 pm Monday, March 11.

NCTCOG helps maintain and manage funding for transportation projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Regional Air Quality and Management and Operations Program provides federal and regional funds to projects that address the region’s air quality and aid in management and operations of the transportation system. The Assessment Policy Program awards federal air quality and mobility funds to projects across the region that include an economic development component. Details on both programs as well as projects being proposed for funding will be presented for public review and comment.

Additionally, staff will provide an update on the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Program, which helps provide financial assistance to North Texans to repair and replace their vehicles. All those interested in the program are encouraged to apply, and applications will be accepted through April 8.

The meeting will also include information on the 2019 ozone season, which begins March 1 and runs through November 30. The Dallas-Fort Worth region does not meet the federal air quality standard for the pollutant ozone, and NCTCOG staff continues to implement projects and programs to improve air quality and protect public health. Finally, information on proposed modifications to the list of funded projects, electric vehicle incentives and the Regional Smoking Vehicle Program will be highlighted.

To watch the meeting online, click the “live” tab at www.nctcog.org/video. A recording of the presentations will also be posted at www.nctcog.org/input.
Prepared