MobilityATX invites the public to talk traffic solutions
EXPLORING THE MOBILITY DISCUSSION AND IDEAS TO SOLVE IT
by Selina Bonilla
INRIX Traffic Scorecard ranked Austin #4 for worst traffic congestion in the nation. The average commuter spends approximately forty-two hours a year in Austin traffic - in that time frame, a driver can listen to about eight hundred songs or watch two seasons of their favorite television show.
“It is well past time to act,” Mayor Steve Alder said during his State of the City speech on April 13.
With the failure of Proposition One – a billion dollar bond that would have brought road improvements and introduced the city’s first light-rail – city officials are searching for effective and efficient short-term solutions through a newly launched public-private partnership, Mobility ATX.
The partnership’s orchestrator, Francisco Enriquez said, the project came about when Prop One failed and there was no Plan B, so he thought to invite the public to the drawing board..
MobilityATX is a citywide community-sourced conversation about the future of Austin mobility and transportation. It provides a public forum for Central Texas residents to post their ideas and receive feedback through votes and comments. The initiative is partnered with other Austin organizations and businesses, such as Leadership Austin, Civic Analytics and RideScout
RideScout, an app developed for real-time transportation options, hosted a panel as a part of MobilityATX to discuss Austin’s growth and its impact on traffic and mobility on Monday, April 27.
The panel consisted of City Council Member Ellen Troxclair, Downtown Austin Alliance CEO DeWitt Peart, RideScout CEO Joseph Kopser, and AURA Board Member Brennan Griffin.
The panelists answered questions sent by Twitter users. The questions ranged from ‘what areas of Austin does the city need to focus on’ to ‘how would they go about funding big infrastructure projects.’ They also discussed long-term goals versus short-term goals.
The consensus was that short-term goals will not solve the issues, but they are a start.
“[The solutions] got to be data driven,” said Kopser during the panel. “But we can’t get the data without experiments.”
Kopser feels that the mindset of the community needs to change in order to start making a change in Austin’s traffic.
“We’ve got to get at the problem of people thinking that the only way they can get around is to drive their car,” he said. “And there are small steps we can take to prove that.”
Austin is home to various sources of transportation from public transit to car-shares, like Car2Go and rideshares, such as Uber.
Mayor Steve Adler reciprocated the notion of getting more cars off the road, such as heavily congested Interstate-35 and Mopac, as an ideal start.
“If we can get just 17,000 cars off road at rush hour,” he said. “We could potentially lighten traffic to levels we enjoy on state holidays.”
The city has also announced a Traffic Congestion Action Plan, which includes low-cost and immediate methods the city will take to improve traffic conditions. Methods include, the “Don’t block the box” campaign to keep intersections clear; scheduling more of the street repair and constructions projects at night and permitting fewer lane closures for downtown events.
“We need to be big city bold. We need to innovate, take things to scale, be fearless in trying new things, and unafraid to test ideas even if they don’t work,” Mayor Adler said. “But we must learn quickly.”