Local Motion - October 2019

10/7/2019
A monthly update on activities of the Regional Transportation Council and the North Centrl Texas Council of Governments Transportation Department
 

Try Parking It reboot offers more functionality

North Texas’ alternative-commute and rideshare website has been updated. The new TryParkingIt.com still allows users to find rideshare matches and record their alternatives to driving alone in return for earning rewards. But there are now improved functionalities that make the experience more personalized and seamless.




For example, residents who vanpool, carpool or take transit to work used to have to track their commute alternatives after every trip. Now, they can mark their choices as recurring trips, meaning they don’t have to enter them each time. This saves time and can lead to more accurate records.

Try Parking It also offers a mobile app, allowing people to participate wherever they are. They can also sign up for text or email alerts. The previous app must be deleted and the new one downloaded before users are able to experience the increased functionality.
Whether recorded on the website or app, each alternative commute can earn points toward an expanded list of rewards, including raffles, dining, shopping, activities and services. By establishing a new account, users of the app and website begin with 1,000 points. Those points can either be instantly redeemed for an expanded list of rewards or saved for later.

Many of the trips recorded by Try Parking It users have been commutes to and from work. But the program also encourages people to track other instances where they do not drive alone – shopping, dining, etc. They can even record physical activity, such as bicycling, walking and running. For example, users of the Strava and Under Armour fitness apps can sync their transportation trips with the apps and have them count on Try Parking It. This feature only works when people are traveling somewhere.

An agreement with Enterprise to maintain vanpool information means Try Parking It can offer a more accurate list of available vanpools, which will be automatically updated monthly. When users log on to find a vanpool match, the list will be current. Visit www.tryparkingit.com or download the free Try Parking It app from the App Store or on Google Play.
 

NCTCOG offers $1M to reduce heavy-duty idling

The North Central Texas Council of Governments, under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program, is offering approximately $1 million in grant funding for projects that reduce idling from transport refrigeration units (TRUs) used by heavy-duty diesel trucks and trailers to keep freight cold. The grants are available through the North Texas Freight Terminal ElectrificationCall for Projects.

NCTCOG will provide grants to cover up to 30% of eligible project unit costs; recipients must provide 70% of total project costs through non-federal funding.

Specifically, grant funding will be used to assist in construction and installation of EPA-verified electrified parking spaces at truck terminals and distribution centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth 10-county ozone nonattainment area. The technology will be used to power TRUs while heavy-duty trucks and trailers are on standby or currently loading or unloading. For more information, visit www.nctcog.org/AQfunding, or email aqgrants@nctcog.org.

Truck stop electrification study examines idling in DFW

NCTCOG partnered with the University of Texas at Arlington to conduct a study to observe the effectiveness of truck stop electrification (TSE) and propose recommendations on how the technology can be made more effective.

Truck stop electrification technology is available to help long-haul truckers avoid idling during their mandatory rest periods. They provide a significant service in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as a strategy to meet the federal government’s ozone standards. The study observed idling behaviors at truck stops and one truck terminal. Researchers surveyed truck drivers, truck stop and terminal owners and managers, and TSE electrified parking space system representatives to better understand the perceptions of truck stop electrification.

The study identified common reasons for idling engines during rest periods while having access to TSE systems and what incentives would encourage more truck drivers to use them.

The study was completed this year. The final report can be found at www.nctcog.org/nctcg/media/Transportation/DocsMaps/Quality/Air/UTATruckStopElectrificationFinal-Report.pdf.

Clinics to offer help diagnosing car issues

Is the check engine light on in your car? When it lights up, it is natural to get concerned about what might be wrong. In October, there will be a resource to help you diagnose the problem.

NCTCOG is partnering with local automotive repair facilities in North Texas to conduct a series of Car Care Clinics.
An illuminated check engine light means your vehicle will not pass the annual Texas emissions
inspection, which is required to get it registered. The free clinics will provide opportunities to speak with certified technicians about problems and how they may be addressed.

The issues may cost less than you think to repair. Maybe your gas cap is bad and needs to be replaced. The clinics are not just for
motorists trying to diagnose engine issues. They will also offer free multipoint inspections to anyone who attends.

More information, including an updated schedule, is available at www.ntxcarcare.org. Regular maintenance is urged as a way to
help ensure vehicles run more efficiently, which improves air quality and can save consumers money in the long term.

NCTCOG recognized as EPA SmartWay Affiliate

NCTCOG was recognized by the EPA in August as a SmartWay Affiliate for sharing information regarding efficient freight
transportation during Earth Day through article placement, social media, and website updates.

NCTCOG joined the EPA SmartWay Transport Program as an affiliate in October 2006 and has been recognized multiple times
for its efforts to promote freight efficiency. Efforts to communicate about Smartway are not limited to Earth Day. NCTCOG promotes and distributes EPA SmartWay information and resources through www.nctcog.org/smartway, email newsletters, and outreach events throughout the year.

NCTCOG is dedicated to the promoting SmartWay initiatives in the region and encouraging local freight fleets to join the program and improve environmental performance.

IH 45 could become alternative fuel corridor The RTC endorsed an application last month intended to establish Interstate Highway 45 as a Zero Emission Vehicle Corridor.

This includes electric vehicle charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructure to improve mobility of vehicles not powered by
gasoline.

The Corridor Development Plan will be created in cooperation with the Houston-Galveston Area Council and a variety of
stakeholders including fleets, fuel providers, utilities, and vehicle manufacturers.

NCTCOG has been involved in developing recommendations for other alternative fuel corridors since the Fixing America’s
Surface Transportation Act required the designation of a national network of electric vehicle charging, and hydrogen and natural gas refueling corridors, which began in 2016.

The goal is to make it easier for people to travel across Texas and the US in electric and alternative fuel vehicles. Currently, 16
interstates, one State highway and one US highway in Texas and neighboring states have been designated alternative fuel
corridors.

NCTCOG public meeting set for Oct. 14

NCTCOG will conduct a public meeting in October to provide updates on transportation and air quality initiatives.
The meeting is scheduled for 6 pm October 14 at NCTCOG’s Arlington offices, 616 Six Flags Drive.

NCTCOG staff will present proposed transit projects funded by the Federal Transit Administration through the final award of
Fiscal Year 2019 funds for the following four programs:
  • • Urbanized Area Formula
  • • Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities
  • • State of Good Repair
  • • Bus and Bus Facilities
Additionally, residents will hear an update on the Community Schools and Transportation Program. This program seeks to
promote best practices and advance coordination between school districts and other government agencies.

Staff will also share information about clean funding opportunities for vehicle/equipment purchases and replacements, as well as
funding for parking space electrification at freight terminals.

Finally, staff will present a brief overview of a new public comment process. With the passage of House Bill 2840, the public may provide input during Regional Transportation Council meetings.

Information on the Regional Smoking Vehicle Program, October Car Care Clinics, upcoming drone workshops and administrative
changes to Mobility 2045 will also be available.

The meeting will be streamed live at www.nctcog.org/video for those not able to make it in person. A video of the presentation will be available after the meeting at www.nctcog.org/input.