Local Motion - September 2017
In this issue:
- Driverless vehicles introduced in Arlington
- RTC awards transportation data-sharing grants to TxDOT, area cities
- Breathe cleaner with Idle Free School Zones
- NDEW celebrates success of electric cars
- Corinth becomes 5th North Texas SolSmart city
- Fleet discounts on alternative fuel vehicles
- NCTCOG requests input on funding initiatives
- Mobility plan survey open until September 20
Next time you are in the Entertainment District for a Rangers or Cowboys game, there may be an alternative to enduring high summer temperatures as you make your way to the game. On August 26, the City of Arlington debuted two air-conditioned driverless vehicles that will take fans to Globe Life Park or AT&T Stadium via trails in the Richard Greene Linear Park and Robert Cluck Linear Park. The bright red Milo shuttles, provided by Easy Mile, are free to ride and handicap accessible. This is part of a pilot project to test the concept of low-speed driverless vehicles in Arlington. During the test, the vehicles will follow a predetermined route, using a laser on the roof to detect obstacles.
Each vehicle will have an operator on board who can override the automated setting in the case of an emergency. The vehicles, which can travel fast as 20 mph, are not permitted on the streets. For now, they will travel on the trails in the Entertainment District, comfortably providing the final connection for people trying to get from their cars to the ballgame or other nearby event. For more information, visit www.arlington-tx.gov/news and search "autonomous vehicle."
The Regional Transportation Council has awarded grants to area cities and the Texas Department of Transportation that will help make highways and streets safer and more efficient.
Along with TxDOT, the cities of Arlington, Flower Mound, Frisco, Garland, Grapevine, Grand Prairie and Plano, will receive $25,000 apiece to help them share traffic signal data with connected-vehicle and other app developers.
This move makes 27 percent of the region’s signals accessible to developers hoping to improve the way vehicles communicate with the infrastructure around them to enhance traffic flow and safety.
The RTC also approved grants totaling $131,500 to cities as part of a separate project with Waze, a travel navigation app that employs a combination of city- and user-provided data to help keep transportation systems moving.
With Arlington, Crowley, Frisco, Garland, Grand Prairie and Plano sharing data on road closures with Waze, it will later become easier to build out 511DFW as a portal for transportation information. Fort Worth has been sharing information on road closures as part of its involvement with the Waze Connected Citizens Program since last year.
Planners are working to upgrade 511DFW to serve as a central repository for cities to share and receive information with a variety of travel navigation services and each other. Data provided by cities and counties could have a significant impact on the freight and other industries relying on roads in off-peak periods, when many significant construction projects take place.
Advance notice of road closures will help these companies plan their routes so they can deliver goods more efficiently.
As school gets underway, NCTCOG asks parents and districts alike to keep their eyes open for long lines of idling vehicles at campuses.
NCTCOG will be looking for school districts and specific campuses to team up with for an Idle Free School Zones project, which will focus on implementing idle reduction strategies in parent pick-up/ drop-off zones. Student educational components will also be developed.
The goal is to ultimately reduce harmful air pollutants around each campus. Respond to AQfunding@nctcog.org by September 30 to recommend school districts or campuses that would benefit from this unique and educational opportunity.
Exciting progress is being made that could lead to less expensive, more plentiful electric vehicles. But how much do you know about them? Learn more about the technology from current EV owners and local representatives during North Texas’ National Drive Electric Week celebration September 9 at Grapevine Mills Mall. Additionally, a series of five daily webinars beginning Mon-day, September 11 will help you understand the basics about EVs.
Electric vehicle owners and enthusiasts will show off their rides, discuss the ownership experience and demonstrate this clean technology beginning at 10 am September 9 at the mall. Sponsored by NCTCOG and the Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities Coalition, the North Texas NDEW celebration is an opportunity for residents to learn more about electrification without feeling pressured to buy an EV. Attendees will even be able to test drive these vehicles.
Mike Taylor, a member of the Colleyville City Council and the Regional Transportation Council, will speak during the event, high-lighting the importance of electric vehicles in North Texas. Organizers are again hoping to establish a State record for the number of EVs in one location. For more information, visit https://driveelectricweek.org/event.php?eventid=984 .
Corinth has signed on as the fifth SolSmart city in the North Texas region. SolSmart is a national program through which technical advisors work with municipalities to reduce solar soft costs and adopt solar-friendly policies. Soft costs can include permitting, financing, installation and other non-hardware costs related to adopting solar power.
Through participation, cities are sending the solar market a signal that they are "open for business" and can receive national recognition for their efforts.
To join the cities of Plano, Kennedale, Cedar Hill, Denton and Corinth as the region’s solar leaders, visit www.GoSolarTexas.org/solsmart.
North Texas public fleets have an opportunity to get substantial discounts on alternative fuel vehicles.
NCTCOG issued a request for proposals (RFP) for Fleets for the Future, a regional cooperative to assist with the procurement of alternative fuel vehicles.
The RFP focuses on the following AFV platforms:
- Propane half-ton pickup trucks
- Plug-in hybrid electric half-ton pickup trucks
- PHEV compact sedans
- Electric subcompact sedans
Proposals must be submitted to NCTCOG by 5 pm September 15. The NCTCOG Executive Board is scheduled to consider the RFP at the end of October. Vehicle orders could be placed soon after Executive Board approval. Learn how your fleet can participate and benefit from this unique regional procurement process by visiting www.nctcog.org/f4f.
NCTCOG staff will present several transportation funding initiatives, an electric vehicle update and work program modifications during public meetings in September.
Residents can provide input on local bond program partnerships, two Federal Transit Administration funding programs and the Unified Planning Work Program at meetings on September 11 (White Settlement), September 13 (Arlington) and September 18 (Lewisville).
The UPWP is a required summary of activities to be undertaken by NCTCOG as the metropolitan planning organization. The bond program partnerships aim to leverage funds for projects important to local governments and the region. In addition to local funding efforts, NCTCOG issued a call for projects to competitively award FTA funding through two programs that support transportation services for seniors, persons with disabilities and low-income individuals. Staff will present recommendations to award 10 projects the available funding. Finally, an update will be provided on the 2017 National Drive Electric Week celebration.
Information on Mobility 2045, modifications to the list of funded projects, the Public Transportation Agency Programs of Projects and the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine program will also be highlighted. 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.
The first survey for Mobility 2045 will remain open until Thursday, September 20. Planners are seeking input on transportation behavior and challenges, as well as long-term priorities. Take the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/m2045. Print copies will be mailed upon request. Mobility 2045 is the next long-term transportation plan for the region. For more about the mobility plan and its development, visit www.nctcog.org/mobility2045.