In December 2016, transit experts of Central Texas came together to discuss issues surrounding traffic. This meeting was the 19th annual Williamson County Growth Summit, and Mike Heiligenstein, who is the executive director of Central Texas Regional Mobility authority, was one of the panelists at this summit. Learn more about Mike Heiligenstein: http://ctxmobilitymatters.com/about-mike-heiligenstein/
Solutions were provided by these transit experts for Williamson’s County huge issue concerning traffic. Also, the other growth summit panelists included Joseph Kopser, RidesScout LLC founder, Leandre Johns, the Texas External Affairs Director of Uber Technologies, and Jared Ficklin, the transportation focused product designer of ArgoDesign.
Most of the transit discussions for Austin were mainly about the city; however, this summit meeting was still a grand opportunity to focus on the challenges relating to transportation needs of the regional suburban communities. One of their discussions focused on the technological transformations for transportation within the region as well as globally.
Heiligenstein noted that Austin still needs more transportation capacity even though the new technologies, such as ridesharing apps and driverless vehicles, can radically change the infrastructure of transportation. He also stated that having more and smarter roads, in particular, would be a solution for more transportation capacity, and more transportation capacity is the only way to meet the mobility demands for a rapidly growing population in which is mostly in the suburbs.
Ficklin, on the other hand, responded to a question from Alan McGraw, the Mayor of Round Rock, regarding what policymakers should do to prepare transportation’s future needs. Ficklin stated that to remain flexible, land use and building codes are needed. Heiligenstein and Ficklin had different perspectives on this point made by Ficklin.
Heiligenstein emphasized how he’s not that optimistic about autonomous vehicles due to a slow and tedious rate, and improvements in buses and roads are needed. Yet, Ficklin thinks that the focus on roads is still required because the growth rate of Austin will nullify the improvements around the increased mass transit.
Johns emphasized how ridesharing companies will assist greatly with Austin commuters requiring first and last mile solutions which will get them on and off public transit.
About Mike Heiligenstein and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority
Mike Heiligenstein is the Executive Director for the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Launched in 2002, this independent government agency is created to design a regional and modern transportation network for the region of Central Texas.
When Heiligenstein was chosen in his leadership role for this agency, there were no revenue and no roadways under construction, but there were stiff toll roads’ opposition.