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Local Motion - photos of the TRE, traffic in the IH 30 managed/HOV lane, Fort Worth, airplane

September 2014

PDF | Return to main Local Motion page | Archived issues


40th Anniversary RTC Logo
Technology helps NCTCOG serve larger region, offer more services

If you were a transportation planner 30 or 40 years ago, chances are, you couldn't do your job without colored pencils, Wite-Out® and a ruler. Mapsco, that collection of street maps packed in a spiral-bound book portable enough to be used by drivers, was probably also on your desk. It had the level of detail planners sought as they put together maps of the region. Since Geographic Information Systems (GIS) capabilities were not available to automatically calculate distances, Mapsco helped planners determine how far one point was from another, proving indispensable to map making. NCTCOG has had GIS capabilities since 1989.

Today, transportation planners can accurately and efficiently develop maps to help people understand projects underway and on the horizon. The analytical capabilities of NCTCOG have also improved. Planners are able to add a potential project to the travel model and better understand its impact on mobility through this simplified simulation of reality. The model existed before sophisticated computer programs and high-powered machines, but technology made the process easier and more efficient.

Indeed, the job of a planner was different in the early years of the metropolitan planning organization through much of the 1980s, before maps were generated by computers. Planners used compasses, straight edges and other rudimentary geometry tools in the analysis process. They sketched out map details with colored pencils and markers. With modern computer programs such as GIS, this is a quick exercise. Today, a spatial map showing population density, for instance, can be built in a few minutes. Years ago, when it had to be done by hand, it took an entire day. In fact, the generation of almost any map or related project took at least a day.

Today, the department is much more diversified, handling environmental and social matters related to transportation, as well as bicycle-pedestrian, sustainable development, transit and other planning matters. Marketing and public involvement are also key functions of the department, as laws have changed over the years to require more transparency from NCTCOG and other public entities.

Technological advances have allowed NCTCOG to provide better service to surrounding governments and perform more activities to help the region succeed. But, despite all the changes, meeting the current and future needs of local governments is still at the top of the Transportation Department’s list. There are just more governments covering a wider area and serving more people. Modern tools make the job easier and ultimately result in a stronger region.


Past RTC chairs talk transportation history

The North Central Texas Council of Governments has witnessed many changes in its 40 years as the region’s metropolitan planning organization (MPO). The NCTCOG Transportation Department recently released a video chronicling the evolution of the MPO through the eyes of for former Regional Transportation Council chairs.
In the video, Ray Noah (1970s), Bob Hampton (1980s), Jim Jackson (1990s) and Glen Whitley (2000s), discuss some of the challenges they faced while on the RTC, the transportation policymaking body for the 12-county Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Watch the video at

Local dealers to celebrate EVs Sept. 15-21

The first National Drive Electric Week is just a few days away, and automobile dealerships across North Texas have planned events highlighting electric vehicles.

The celebration will take place September 15-21 at dealers and showrooms throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Participants will provide information on electric vehicles (EV), including incentives, recharging, maintenance and total cost of ownership. And don’t miss the opportunity to talk with current EV owners about their driving experiences and witness their passion for the technology. Do you want to witness firsthand what it’s like to drive an electric vehicle? Test drives will also be available.

For additional information and event locations, visit or contact Kenny Bergstrom at 817-704-5643 or


Blacklands public meeting rescheduled for Sept. 22

Residents living in and around the Blacklands Corridor will have another chance to voice their opinions of draft transportation recommendations for the area stretching from Garland to Greenville, during a public meeting at 6:30 pm September 22 at the Rockwall Performing Arts Center.

A September 4 public meeting to discuss draft recommendations for the Blacklands Corridor Feasibility Study was closed early by the local fire marshal because meeting attendance at NeSmith Elementary School in Lavon exceeded the maximum room occupancy. Not only was a new meeting scheduled, but the public comment period for the study has been extended.

Among the recommendations of the study is a new limited-access freeway/tollway in the corridor. FWTAexas Turnpike Corp. has expressed interest in carrying forward plans for the tollway for near-term development. Texas Turnpike Corp., a private development firm, will conduct a state-mandated environmental review process, which will be supervised by the Texas Department of Transportation. The review process must be completed to determine the project location and corridor characteristics.

Please submit comments and questions at The presentation from the September 4 meeting, project materials and information from past meetings are also provided on the site. For more information, contact Amanda Wilson at or 817-695-9284.

NCTCOG, transit agencies seek rider input

The next phase of a regional transit survey intended to help planners better understand the demand for rail and bus service throughout Dallas-Fort Worth is underway. Passengers of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA), the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA) and the Trinity Railway Express (TRE), will be asked to participate in two types of surveys over the next several months. Stop-to-stop surveys are meant to determine demand. Bus passengers will be given cards when they board and asked to return them when they get off. Rail passengers will be asked at what station they plan to depart. The interview phase will seek more detailed information. For more details on the survey, visit

Survey seeks help from IH 30 commuters

If you travel Interstate Highway 30 between Dallas and Arlington, transportation planners would like to know how you typically use it and if incentives would entice you to change the decisions you make.

FWTAexas A&M Transportation Institute and NCTCOG are asking motorists for input on this stretch of Tom Landry Highway. The anonymous survey takes just a few minutes to complete and is open through September 15.

It is all part of an effort to better manage congestion and provide reliable trips through Dallas-Fort Worth.

Three respondents will be chosen at random to receive $250 MasterCard gift cards. Take the survey at For more information on the survey, contact Dr. Mark Burris at


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Developing a transportation plan for a region as large as DFW can be challenging, but technology has improved as the region has grown. Over the years, planning has gone from drawing maps by hand with colored pencils to using innovative tools and mapping programs, such as GIS. How do you think technology will impact transportation in the future? Tell us on social media using #DFWMPO40.

Arlington Transit

MAX celebrates a year of service, shows growth

The Metro ArlingtonXpress (MAX) celebrated the one-year anniversary of its launch August 19, and since buses began rolling in Arlington, the service has grown in popularity. Starting in January, the average trips per day exceeded 250, a goal set when the program began, with April having the highest average at 303. The city of Arlington hoped to have between 250 and 500 trips per day by the end of the first year.

A daily record of 438 passenger trips was established June 18. There were group trips taken from The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) that day, which fell during the week the region’s three transit agencies were encouraging
commuters to “dump the pump” and ride public transportation.

This two-year pilot project is a cooperative effort involving Arlington, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, UTA, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, Trinity Railway Express and Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

Public comments

Comments or questions about transportation or air quality topics may be submitted at any time. Submit questions or comments online or send them to:

North Central Texas
Council of Governments
Transportation Department
P.O. Box 5888
Arlington, TX 76005-5888 

Web site:
Fax: 817-640-3028
Phone: 817-695-9240


4/27/2018  CH %Arc

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