(TNS) -- Dallas offers its residents an “abundance” of transportation-related technology tools and is one of the 19 easiest cities in the U.S. to get around in without owning a car, according to a study released Wednesday by two consumer rights groups.
The “Innovative Transportation Index” ranked 70 cities based on the availability of 11 technology-based transportation services.
Dallas was No. 12. Austin bested San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to top the list because it was the only city to have all 11 services available.
“Americans are driving less now than they used to,” said Jeff Inglis, a policy analyst with the Frontier Group and one of the study’s authors. “More people of every generation are saying that they want the option to drive even less.”
Inglis said less driving cuts down on the need for expensive infrastructure and reduces air pollution. He and others involved in the study said going completely car-free can dramatically cut monthly household expenses typically earmarked for car payments, maintenance, insurance and fuel.
Having more options makes that viable, they said.
“A family that previously owned two cars may now choose to own one instead,” said Erik Dolliver, a campaign organizer with the Texas branch of the Public Interest Research Group.
Frontier and PIRG’s index looked at whether residents in each city could use a technology-based service on their desktops or smartphones to travel without a car they owned.
Scores were based on several measures, including the ability to hail taxis, share bikes, find real-time public transit information, and buy transit tickets online and ride sources with companies like Uber and Lyft. Scores went up based on the number of options available in each category.
The study said the only service unavailable in Dallas is ride sharing, which connects passengers with drivers who are headed in the same direction and are willing to offer a lift.
The study looked at whether particular technology-based tools are available, not at the performance of transportation services or transit agencies. It also said that lawmakers and public officials should adopt policies that support car-free options.
Among recommendations were requiring transportation providers to share data with public agencies and adopting development and parking ordinances that benefit people who get around without their own vehicle. The study’s authors said that should include lowering parking requirements for developments that incorporate shared-use transportation and reducing parking fees for car-share users.
At a small news conference at City Hall to announce the results, City Council member Scott Griggs said current building codes require landowners to give too much space to cars. “I believe we’re at the beginning of a big change in transportation.”
In conjunction with the study’s release, Dallas Area Rapid Transit announced a partnership with car-sharing company Zipcar that will place two shared vehicles at Mockingbird Station.
The transit agency’s GoPass app helped the city score as high as it did. The app allows virtual ticket purchases and provides real-time arrival estimates. DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said the agency places a premium on using technology to make public transit easier for passengers.
“Most of our Web traffic is now mobile-based,” he said.
©2015 The Dallas Morning News