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Collin County residents voice public transit concerns: New study seeks input on state of transportation in area
Public transit buses -- similar to the services DART offers -- are also being considered as a form of transportation throughout Collin County as its population continues to grow. Photo courtesy of DART.
With Collin County cities growing rapidly, a government association is seeking input on what can be done to help residents who have transportation issues.
The North Central Texas Council Of Governments took community input on public transportation options in Collin County in a series of three meetings last week.
More than 30 area residents attended the first meeting at Frisco Public Library on Oct. 30, where they voiced their opinions on what the county needs to do to provide better access to transportation for residents.
The study is being conducted in coordination with Nelson\Nygaard Associates, a national transportation planning firm. When the study is complete, it will be used to help determine what potential avenues are available for public transportation that could be implemented within three to five years.
"The three-to-five year window is something we hope we can actually implement something within," said Jessie Huddleston, principal transportation planner for NCTCOG. "It won't be a high-speed rail system in that amount of time, but we hope to have something. We don't just want this to be a study [for the sake of doing a study]."
When asked if Collin County needed more public transit systems at the meeting, more than half of the audience's 30 members raised their hands in the affirmative.
One Frisco resident lamented the fact that a city of Frisco's size doesn't have public transportation options available to her.
"I'm visually impaired -- I do not drive," the woman said. "I rely on my friends and family members to get around. When Frisco had our CCART [Collin County Area Regional Transit] route I certainly used it."
Though no audience members said public transportation is the highest-priority issue for local governments, they all agreed it is an important issue.
In addition to seeking resident input, NCTCOG has been working with local stakeholders such as elected officials, human services representatives and other key individuals. In all, it's had discussions with about 25 stakeholders so far, with plans to discuss the matter with more before the study concludes.
Joey Goldman, a principal at Nelson\Nygaard Associates, said the meetings are the first step in a long period of research on the state of public transportation in Collin County.
"We're fairly early in the study -- we're on a fact-finding mission to determine what residents want," he said. "There are some transit needs out there, and we're trying to figure out where [in the county] they are."
Goldman added that many of the cities in Collin County have different needs.
In Frisco, for instance, only about 17 percent of residents work in the city -- the majority commutes outside the city. Plano, conversely, has more of its residents working within the city as its businesses have developed as the city's built out, he said.
Many Collin County residents are already familiar with public transportation systems, Goldman said, making the study all the more important.
"There are a lot of people in Plano who are from outside the country that are accustomed to public transit services," he said. "We're looking at age, poverty levels and other demographics to see where the largest need for public transit options exists. Even in Frisco there are clusters of residents who don't have access to automobiles."
Because Plano is a DART member city, it may not require as many new transit options as a city like Frisco, Goldman said, although he noted opportunities may still be available for the city to reach local areas not serviced by DART.
One Allen resident at the meeting said more public transit systems can't come soon enough with the county's rapidly growing population.
"What happens when all our cities are built out?" the man asked rhetorically. "What do you do when you have three times as many vehicles on the road as you do now? I think that's the main problem here."
Collin County residents who were unable to attend any of the three meetings can express their opinions through an online survey at www.collinsurvey.org. That survey will likely run until about Thanksgiving, Goldman said.
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