The resolution is an effort to continue to reap the positive benefits of less traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic, Caryn Sanders, a transportation planner with NCTCOG, told The Texan. With the reduced traffic due to lockdowns and other restrictive measures, the region saw improvements in air quality, she added, although Sanders could not provide specifics about those improvements.
While NCTCOG is a voluntary association of local governments and does not have regulatory authority, it does have persuasive authority with many of the area’s governments and officials. According to its website, the organization “is responsible for programming billions of dollars in funding for transportation projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”
The resolution, which will be presented with public input to NCTCOG’s Regional Transportation Council at its meeting on May 14, “supports the establishment of a regional trip reduction target of 20 percent to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) commute trips during the peak period.”
The resolution does not include a date by which this target should be reached or a mechanism for measuring the reduction among the general public.
The primary means for measuring reductions is a voluntary program of public and private employers who report their commuting behavior through a TryParkingIt app. Currently, the program has about 3,000 participants.
NCTCOG encompasses 14 counties in North Texas with a population of about 7.7 million.
Sanders said they will encourage more participants to join the self-reporting program in order to measure reductions. If employers participate, they may be rewarded with financial incentives, like transit passes for employees.
The resolution provides for NCTCOG staff to provide annual updates to the Regional Transportation Council about the success of the program in reducing drive-alone trips based on numbers voluntarily reported through limited participation via the TryParkingIt app.
To assist in formulating a target goal for drive alone traffic, Sanders said they looked to other regions that have established similar goals. Examples include Austin which aimed to reduce trips by 20 percent by 2020 and Seattle which aimed to reduce trips by 28.8 percent by 2023.
NCTCOG’s Travel Demand Management has several strategies to reduce traffic congestion, and this is just one of them, explained Sonya Landrum, program manager. “We are not trying to eliminate traffic. That is not feasible. If we remove too many vehicles from the roadway, we will have safety issues.”
She added that they encourage carpooling, use of transit, compressed work weeks, and telecommuting even just one or two days a week as options for reducing traffic congestion.
During 2020, the greatest change among the voluntary participants in TryParkingIt was a significant increase in telecommuting.
Public input about the resolution and its goals is being accepted through May 11. More information about the proposal can be found on the NCTCOG website.
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.