Combatting climate change is an uphill battle. It’s a threat that requires large-scale restructuring of the daily lives of billions of people, including how we get around.
So where do we start? Well, the Frontier Group, a U.S. non-profit think tank, recently published a 50-step plan to reform policies and transition the country to carbon-free transportation
It’s no secret that Dallas is heavily dependent on cars. But ultimately, that’s not the fault of its residents — the city was designed for cars, and public transportation hasn’t grown at the same rate as highway construction.
So in hopes of inspiring Dallasites, we pulled some suggestions from this 50-step plan that are especially relevant to Dallas.
2.) Require greenhouse gas evaluations for transportation projects and plans and ensure that they are done appropriately
This might be a losing fight, but it’s something that needs to be considered as Dallas expands. On a national level, the Federal Highway Administration has started responding to climate change by rethinking existing roads. But what’s more crucial is taking preventative measures to stop cities from building roads it won’t be able to sustain.
4.) Shift public subsidies from highway capacity expansion to low-carbon transportation strategies.
I mean, this one is almost talking to Dallas directly. Even when highways like I-635 have four or five lanes at some points, they still get congested during rush hour. Highways can only be expanded so much, and at some point it just isn’t feasible to have a 1:1 car-to-person ratio in a major city. By giving subsidies and grants to public transportation, the system can be built and expanded on and keep up with the city instead of being left behind.
19.) Consider monetary incentives to encourage low-carbon travel behavior.
Monetary incentives are a good step toward encouraging public transit use. Maybe it would make the most sense as a tax break, although that’s not quite as appealing to people since it means saving money later on. Other possible incentives could be bigger discounts on long-term public transportation passes or flat discounts on fares.
23.) Encourage access to transit, active transportation and shared mobility as alternatives to parking.
No one in their right mind enjoys trying to find parking in Dallas. If public transit can appeal to these people and offer alternatives, it could be hugely successful. For example, one of the biggest (if not the biggest) spike in DART usage is during the state fair. Because parking is notoriously impossible, it’s not unusual to see a fully occupied train roll into the Fair Park station during the state fair.
DART should leverage this success into promoting its service as an alternative to searching for $20 parking for half an hour.
39.) Revisit existing policies, plans and models to reflect new technologies.
To be fair, most cities are struggling to catch up. But if you’ve ever experienced the unhelpful eyesore that is the DART app, you know that this is especially relevant. For the millennial demographic, it’s just too easy to get an Uber or Lyft compared to using an outdated app filled with distracting ads.
DART should have a simple, location-tracking app that makes it easy and accessible for people to use the service. At the moment it can be too daunting to new users, and those who’ve been discouraged or intimidated by the service will be less likely to use it again.
50.) Create new, responsive transportation institutions for the 21st century.
The DART is very close to connecting Dallas, but it’s not enough. A new, streamlined bus system could connect DART stations to neighborhoods. We need institutions to innovate on the “so crazy it just might work” level of things like China’s traffic-straddling bus. Maybe that specific solution won’t work for Dallas, but the city desperately needs to find people who can figure out what Dallas needs. And soon.