Local Motion - September 2018

Drive.ai launches AV pilot in Frisco

Automated vehicle company Drive.ai launched a six-month pilot in Frisco this summer, representing the first, on-street, standard-sized automated vehicle deployment in Texas.

Image of orange drive.ai van
                                                                                                     Photo: Drive.ai

The vehicles started with safety drivers and, by the end of the pilot, will transition to safety operators who will be tending to the cars from remote control consoles. The service area is a small footprint made up of Hall Park, Frisco Station and the Star. Its intent is to ferry workers and residents to dining, entertainment and offices throughout the day. During the daytime, the area has a population of about 10,000.

Arlington, which paved the way for AVs in North Texas with its Milo people-mover shuttle last summer, is launching two more deployments in the near-term.

First, delivery robots (roughly, the size of grocery carts) will be introduced and can traverse sidewalks. The second deployment is for on-street, standard-size vehicles provided by Drive.ai that will transport travelers throughout the Entertainment District. The Milo shuttles have operated on off-street paths in the area, not streets.

Arlington will also host the Texas Mobility Summit October 28-30, giving officials from across Texas the chance to learn from North Texas’ AV deployments.

The summit is organized each year by the Texas Innovation Alliance, an association  of cities, agencies and universities working together to advance Texas’ transportation future. The summit includes panels and breakout sessions, featuring industry experts, academics and elected officials.

The goal of the summit is to “address common mobility challenges, showcase active and shovel-ready projects, and open the door to public-private partnership opportunities,” according to the summit webpage. For summit details and registration, click here.

Experience the future of electric vehicles Sept. 8

Electric vehicles are on the verge of changing the way North Texans travel. The annual Dallas-Fort Worth National Drive Electric Week event, which celebrates the growing popularity of this technology, will be held at Grapevine Mills on September 8.

Official logo of national drive electric week.

The event, hosted by the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities Coalition, begins at 10 am and is the second-largest EV gathering in the country.Experts, owners and enthusiasts will be in attendance to answer any
questions and give visitors the chance to ride in or drive the vehicles. This experience will provide many with the opportunity to learn and explore these innovative vehicles.

The current market consists of 45 EV models, and a projected 55 percent of global car sales could be electric by 2040, according to the Bloomberg 2018 Electric Vehicle Outlook report. In North Texas alone, there has been a 2,000 percent increase in registered
electric vehicles since 2011.

Given this increase in popularity of electric transportation, charging infrastructure is being added to ensure it can support these EVs and allow owners to travel longer distances without the fear of being stranded. NDEW allows potential buyers to check out EVs without the pressure
of a car dealership. However, for those who want to take the next step and purchase an EV, federal and State incentives are available.

NCTCOG is looking to build on last year’s NDEW event, which resulted in a Texas record 155 EVs in one location. Representatives from Oncor Electric Delivery will be in attendance to discuss future EV plans and the impact they have on the grid along with many other resources to educate residents about these evolving vehicles.

For more information on NDEW, how to register a vehicle and why North Texans should be involved, visit https://www.dfwcleancities.org/ndew.

RSVP helps remove smoking vehicles from North Texas roadways

If you see a vehicle emitting excessive amounts of smoke from the tailpipe, you can do something The Regional Smoking Vehicle Program is one of many efforts aimed at improving air quality in Dallas-Fort Worth. The RSVP program is designed to inform and help motorists when their vehicles produce excessive smoke and pollutants as well as allow North Texans to take an active role in helping the region comply with the federal ozone standard.

RSVP covers all 16 counties in the region, which includes Erath, Hood, Hunt, Navarro, Palo Pinto and Somervell in addition to the 12-county metropolitan planning area. The 12 counties are, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant and Wise.

You can anonymously report a smoking vehicle by calling 817-704-2522 or visiting https://www.nctcog.org/trans/quality/air/for-everyone/hevp/rsvp NCTCOG has completed a fact sheet with additional details about the program.

It is available at www.nctcog.org/trans/about/publications/factsheets.


RTC awards $138,500 to innovative projects

The Regional Transportation Council awarded $138,500 in July to three applicants as part of its blue-green-grey initiative to advance innovative projects related to water, the environment and infrastructure.

The following recommendations were approved:

  •  $50,000 to the City of Watauga for the Hightower Drive Biofiltration Rain Gardens
  •  $50,000 to Huitt Zollars for a micro-detention storage system
  •  $38,500 to Amanda Popken Development for retrofitting a neighborhood commercial green bicycle park

The funding is intended to act as seed money to help develop ideas for full funding or implementation. To be eligible, the innovative projects had to be in the 12-county metropolitan planning area. Applicants could include teams of individuals, private firms, and governmental agencies and could receive a maximum award of $50,000.

This was the second round of funding awarded through the initiative. In February, the RTC approved approximately $129,000 for three projects in the region.


Take advantage of EV incentives today

North Texans interested in purchasing electric vehicles may still be able to qualify for up to $13,500 in incentives. The federal government continues to offer up to $7,500 for the purchase of a new qualified plug-in electric vehicle. Additionally, Texas residents are eligible to receive up to $2,500 for qualified EVs.

For residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Program could provide more assistance. Individuals who meet program requirements can receive vouchers for up to $3,500 toward an EV up to three model years old.

Information on the program, including annual household income requirements, can be found at www.airchecktexas.org. Find more information on the electric vehicle incentives available to North Texas residents at www.dfwcleancities.org/evnt.


Rural officials to gather in San Antonio

Officials from cities with populations of fewer than 50,000 and counties with under 200,000 people are encouraged to register for the Association of Rural Communities in Texas annual conference.

The ARCIT offers members a strong collective voice and resource to the Texas Legislature and various agencies to promote policies and programs that enhance the overall quality of life for rural Texans.

The conference will be held October 1-3 in San Antonio at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort & Spa.

This is an opportunity for attendees to meet with colleagues from across the Texas and discuss the important rural issues directly with State agencies and elected officials. The event will include keynote speakers, agency roundtables, expert industry panels and networking opportunities. Register online at www.arcit.org.


Public invited to provide input on transportation

Residents can earn about a proposal to improve bicycle-pedestrian access through the heart of Dallas-Fort Worth and other transportation-focused efforts during public meetings in September. NCTCOG staff will present information about the progress of a 53-mile Fort Worth-to-Dallas regional bicycle-pedestrian trail network and the Cotton Belt trail.

In addition, staff will discuss transit projects funded by the Federal Transit Administration through the end of Fiscal Year 2018. These projects will be split among the following: Urbanized Area Formula, Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with
Disabilities, State of Good Repair, and Bus and Bus Facilities. Initiatives related to automated vehicles and transportation and air quality planning will also be discussed.

Staff will also deliver an update on the new Public Participation Plan. This plan will incorporate new legislative requirements and the increasing role of video in public input opportunities.

Finally, the September meetings will highlight information related to modifications to list of funded projects, electric vehicle incentives, Regional Smoking Vehicle Program and AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine.

Watch the Arlington meeting in real time by clicking the “live” tab at www.nctcog.org/video. A recording of the presentations will also be posted at www.nctcog.org/input.