The North Central Texas Council of Governments has launched a survey to help gather information from the public and inform the completion of their Mobility 2040 transportation plan. Always willing to throw in my two cents about things like like transportation master plans, I clicked through the link in the email I received eager to click some boxes and hit submit. The survey is simple enough, just 6 little questions. Only when I went to answer them I noticed that the answers I wanted to submit weren’t options. Bah. Oh well. I figured I’d just post my survey on FrontBurner instead so that I can add-in the answers I want to send to the COG. Here we go:
1. My community needs better ___. (fill in the blank)
Places to walk or bike
Options for living near work
My answer: ALL OF THE ABOVE, which is not a choice on their survey.
2. The number one problem making traffic worse on North Texas roads is ___. (fill in the blank)
Lots of accidents
My (run on) answer: A regional transportation policy that has promoted a half-century of quick growth strategy by building roads out to green fields in order to stimulate economic development while encouraging sprawl and exporting value from the urban core without adequately promoting sustainable transportation options within the central city.
3. If traffic congestion becomes much worse, I would consider ___ to get to work. (fill in the blank)
Taking a train
Taking a bus
Leaving before or after rush hour
Moving closer to work
I would not change anything about the way I get to work.
My answer: An answer to this question depends entirely on an individual’s work situation, what kind of job they have, level of income, and other factors such as family, spouse’s work situation, proximity to relatives and schools, etc. Similiary, public transportation is not a viable option for everyone in every case, as Michael Morris knows well, nor is changing your routine for other extraneous reasons, like managing school schedules, etc. In light of this, I’m not sure how finding out the percentage of people who would either move or take a bus or not change anything about their commute would offer the NCTCOG any form of valuable information that could help with the Mobility 2040 plan.
4. With the population growing and money for new roads limited, how should North Texas invest transportation funds in the future?
Maintain existing roads
Make biking and walking easier
Make taking the train easier
Make taking the bus easier
Promote different driving habits
Use technology to improve traffic flow
My answer: ALL OF THE ABOVE, which is not a choice on their survey. Soliciting public feedback on this question in light of the options feels absurd, since these should all be top priorities for a regional transportation agency.
Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements:
5. I would consider options besides driving alone if they were convenient.
This is the one question where they provided a suitable answer.
6. I think roadway congestion is a top challenge facing North Texas.
My answer: Congestion isn’t a challenge, it is a symptom, nor is it a negative in every instance. In a dense urban setting, some congestion is a byproduct of economic vitality. Congestion on highways is a symptom of the workings and failings of a transportation system. The challenge that relates to roadway congestion in DFW is an unsustainable pattern of growth — the over-extension of a road system resulting in vast distances between workplaces and workforces, no real public transit option for most people, and an entire regional economy reliant on a roadway system we can no longer afford to maintain.