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Mobility Matters - Images of a freight truck traveling on a highway, downtown Fort Worth, a TRE locomotive, downtown Dallas skyline and highway traffic; Celebrating 35 Years of Regional Transportation Excellence, 1974 - 2009

New Program Provides Regional Ride-Matching
Creative Funding Approach May Bring Rail to Cotton Belt
      A Message from Michael Morris, Transportation Director

Wilemon Sees Education as a Key to Mobility
     Regional Transportation Council Member Profile, Kathryn Wilemon, Councilmember, City of Arlington
Department Enhancing Outreach with Social Media Presence
AirCheckTexas Reaches 40,000 Repaired and Replaced Vehicles
RTC's Trevino Wins Pitstick Award
Department Releases New Publications

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New Program Provides Regional Ride-Matching
System aims to improve traffic flow by encouraging more to commute together

Commuters who want to leave their cars at home but don’t have access to mass transit have a new resource to help them find rides to work. Tryparkingit.com now offers ridematching, allowing users to find carpools and vanpools near where they live. Since 2006, Tryparkingit.com has served as a regional alternative commute site, providing residents a place to record how they get to work and track how much savings they accrue.

Commuters have saved more than 3 million miles by choosing to ride transit, share a ride, telecommute or by selecting another option intended to reduce the number of vehicle trips.

Share a Ride
Resources
Try Parking It
Questions/Comments - Contact Us
 

The website allows users to keep track of what they are doing to lessen traffic congestion. The expansion of Tryparkingit.com gives the Dallas-Fort Worth area a comprehensive, regional ride-sharing program.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, commonly known as FWTA, have offered ride-matching for several years.

The new option combines the information maintained by DART, FWTA and the Denton County Transportation Authority to create a user-friendly site that will give commuters more choices for getting to work and provide insurance against unpredictable commuting costs.


The goal of the ride-matching program is to relieve traffic congestion, thereby improving the reliability of the transportation system. Another benefit is the improvement of the region’s air quality, which is important since the nine-county Dallas Fort Worth area is working to comply with federal ozone standards.

Visitors to the website who want to find a ride just need to enter their names and routes before being matched with several potential drivers near them. They are asked if they would be willing to drive, if they smoke, where they work and how they would prefer to be notified. Ride- matching information from the three regional public transportation providers is available at the NCTCOG-administered site.

Those who don’t have Internet access may call the transit provider in their particular county for matches. Interested residents receive possible ridesharing matches within 10 miles of their homes. They then can contact their chosen matches to arrange to share a ride to work. To help find people to ride with, the program provides maps, but does not include the addresses of potential matches for safety and security reasons.

Ride-Matching Phone Numbers
     DART — 214-747-7433
     DCTA — 972-221-4600
     FWTA — 817-336-7433

Try Parking It

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Creative Funding Approach May Bring Rail to Cotton Belt
A Message from Michael Morris, Transportation Director

In an era of tight budgets, creativity might be the most valuable tool in the effort to expand the reach of passenger rail to new places across North Texas.

The Cotton Belt corridor could benefit from an option new to the passenger rail industry in the US. And it just might change everything. Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority could deliver rail service along the 62-mile corridor in just a matter of a few years – with the help of the private sector.

Cotton Belt rail corridor

Resources
Cotton Belt Innovative Finance Initiative
Questions/Comments - Contact Us
 

The RTC is pursuing financing from the private sector with the help of a firm recently selected. The hope is to extend passenger rail service to the eastern part of the corridor to meet The T’s planned Southwest-to-Northeast line at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The full line would give residents in the northeastern part of the region direct rail access to the airport and could result in extensive development opportunities from companies looking to benefit from train activity. NCTCOG recently released a study outlining eight options for extending service to DFW Airport, north to the Collin/Dallas County area.


Many residents of the growing communities there do not have direct access to rail, but would like the option of boarding a train to get to Dallas, Fort Worth or in between. Collin County contains some of the fastest-growing cities in the country, but their residents are heavily reliant on their own vehicles.

A public-private partnership would provide financing from the private sector and shift much of the risk away from the public sector. The region’s public transportation providers would lay the track; the private sector would be called on to help pay for the expansion.

Public-private partnerships are familiar in Texas and other parts of the country for their use in developing toll roads. Little experience exists on this use in passenger rail construction. Rail projects are almost always subsidized, too, because the fares passengers pay are not enough to offset operations and maintenance, even in the nation’s most transit-reliant cities.

Still, a well-crafted partnership that benefits both the traveling public and private sector could prove to be a precursor to future rail improvements.

In North Texas, the plan could take any number of shapes, as the region has dozens of options for financing the Cotton Belt.

Among them is a possible manufacturing facility on the actual line. This would provide needed revenue while ensuring that the cars on the track are built at home, where they provide jobs to the community and tax revenue necessary to deliver other transportation services.

Public-private partnerships have been used internationally to complete rail projects. In the US, they are being explored in Dallas-Fort Worth and other places to enhance transportation and freight movement.

The RTC has extensive experience partnering in roadway and other transportation improvements and is looking forward to a passenger rail application. The RTC was prepared for this effort by its involvement in the negotiations to build State Highway 121, SH 161 and other regional highways.

  A public-private partnership would provide financing from the private sector and shift much of the risk away from the public sector.

These facilities are now either complete or being built and will provide residents with a lasting transportation legacy. The work done by the RTC to find a partner for the Cotton Belt will do more than help deliver a rail line that could prove to be a critical link for fast-growing cities to the rest of the region.

It could result in other projects being expedited. This is especially important with the challenges facing the nation in a sluggish economy.

With cooperation and the creativity to explore new funding options, the region can expedite rail construction and continue to provide the public the world-class transportation system it deserves. After all … mobility matters.

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Kathryn Wilemon, Councilmember, City of Arlington

Wilemon Sees Education as a Key to Mobility
Regional Transportation Council Member Profile - Kathryn Wilemon, Councilmember, City of Arlington

Dallas-Fort Worth residents are frustrated by slow traffic, but it’s not always easy to know where to turn for answers.

Kathryn Wilemon wants to change that. A member of the Arlington City Council and the Regional Transportation Council since 2003, Wilemon also serves as chair of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition, an organization dedicated to helping find a solution to the traffic congestion plaguing the region.

“TRTC is in the information business, to inform people in the area of the challenges and involve them,” she said. “We don’t want just elected officials involved because mobility affects everyone.”

Half of Arlington leaves every morning for jobs in other cities. And since Arlington is the nation’s largest city without public transportation, this means the roads are often clogged at rush hour. One of the main arteries packed with cars leaving for jobs in other parts of the region is State Highway 360, which for years has been a prime target for expansion. Work is going on all around the area, with the Interstate Highway 30 project and State Highway 161, but SH 360 remains a hotspot for congestion. Right now, the money to unclog the road is in short supply. But that does not mean it is not being pursued.

FWTAexas Department of Transportation recently held a meeting about the roadway, which local officials and commuters would like extended south into Mansfield. “[State Highway] 360 is important to us,” Wilemon said.

“Completion of [State Highway] 161 was a reliever … finally – for 360. But that won’t do it. We’ve got too many cars in the region to say we’re through.”

To add the needed capacity takes money, which is difficult to come by these days. TxDOT says it will not have money to add new capacity by 2012. But innovative approaches have become common as the region tries to expand its multimodal transportation system to accommodate 6.5 million residents.

Wilemon is working along several fronts to help the region find the money to improve its multimodal transportation system. As chair of TRTC, Wilemon is coordinating with public officials and other residents of the region to raise the profile of transportation. Education is a key component of TRTC’s work.

The organization’s members naturally advocate for improvements primarily in the west, but it’s important for everyone to work together because as the region grows, boundaries are being blurred, she said.

  "We've got too many cars in the region to say we're through."

Resources
City of Arlington
Regional Transportation Council
Tarrant Regional Transportation
      Coalition (TRTC)

Questions/Comments - Contact Us

No city, regardless of its size, will be able to craft a solution alone. The winning approach will involve everyone, Wilemon said.

The maintenance, new roads, rail and other improvements that will enhance residents’ quality of life will take cooperation among governments and people across the region, she said.

She sees that cooperation take shape each month as the RTC crafts regional solutions to what some may consider local problems. Commuters count on this approach to remain productive in the face of explosive population growth.

“They can’t take three hours to get to a job,” she said. Wilemon is impressed by how the RTC is able to work together to solve problems common to the region. One event that has illustrated the region’s willingness to cooperate is Super Bowl XLV, which will be played in Arlington in February.

Preparations, including traffic management plans, have been under way for months. And the city has had the benefit of a full football season and several marquee events at the stadium.

Despite the large capacity of the stadium, people are surprised by the smooth traffic flow in and out of the stadium, she said. And that is because of cooperation – the kind that she sees every month as a member of the RTC.

“It starts out as a puzzle and comes together as a beautiful picture,” she said.

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Mobility Matters is prepared in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration. The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors who are responsible for the opinions, findings and conclusions presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration or the Texas Department of Transportation.

10/18/2016 03/17/2009 JS

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