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Study: DCTA’s A-train Reduces Congestion and Improves Air Quality in Denton County

Just breathe – a simple phrase we’ve all heard. This can be hard to do if the air quality around you is bad. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has linked poor air quality to lung and heart disease just to name a few. Air quality is a serious issue, and with Clean Air Month being celebrated in May, it’s important to keep it top-of-mind.

One area in North Texas experiencing traffic and air quality concerns is Denton County. As traffic worsens in Denton County and the Dallas region, commute times are on the rise. One in 10 Denton County commuters now travel more than 60 minutes to work – an increase of 47 percent since 2009. Our friends at the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) have made major strides in helping to improve air quality.

Snapshot of Denton County Air Quality and Help Needed for Improvement

One key element of DCTA’s efforts to improve air quality in Denton County is their 21-mile A-train commuter rail line. DCTA recently partnered with The Antero Group to leverage local and national statistical sources and conducted case studies of local transit-oriented development to share the business case for transit in Denton County. The findings from the study are significant, especially since Denton County has registered the dirtiest air among Texas counties, created by large concentrations of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the air.

Increasing vehicle miles traveled in Denton County contributes to vehicles emitting significant amounts of pollutants even as vehicles are becoming cleaner. In 2017, the typical passenger vehicle in Denton County traveled 64 miles per day, an increase in 8 percent since 2006. Because of these long commutes, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) estimates that the typical passenger vehicle emits 1.04 tons in VOC and 5.32 tons in NOx per day.

DCTA's A-train Enables People to Drive Less, Emit Fewer Pollutants

A key finding in the study concluded that DCTA’s A-train reduces vehicle miles and improves the air by helping spur development in locations where people can drive less and emit fewer pollutants into the air. For example, households at the Hebron 121 apartment complex in Lewisville drove a projected 44 miles per day, 31 percent fewer miles than the typical county resident. For every resident able to drive these fewer miles, their car produces a projected:

▪ 1.66 fewer tons of NOx

▪ 0.32 fewer tons of VOC

For more information on DCTA’s contributions to clean air in Denton County, visit to download the full study. Make sure you follow in DCTA’s footsteps to help improve air quality by pledging to take action on our page today!

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