On October 1 the Austin Chamber of Commerce hosted its Future of Regional Mobility event. It featured a broad range of panelists and speakers – from across the region and country – to discuss what needs to be done to ensure our traffic ranking doesn't get worse.
A Major Announcement
Mayor Steve Adler opened the summit by sharing his vision for the future of Austin’s mobility and transportation. The mayor also shared that beginning in May 2019, Lufthansa will begin nonstop service connecting Austin Bergstrom International Airport with Frankfurt, Germany. This is a major leap forward for Austin and should have an economic impact close to $75 million annually, opening new markets for our business community. The flight announcement comes at a time when ABIA is getting ready to open its new terminal expansion in 2019 and is working to complete its 20-year master plan. Executive Director Jim Smith gave us a preview of what to expect at ABIA in the coming years including some exciting looks at concept designs for a brand-new terminal and concourse.
A Regional Approach to Solving Congestion
Our panel on solving infrastructure funding and congestion across Central Texas featured a robust conversation between policymakers. What was agreed on? Local control should be the deciding factor when it comes to entering into agreements on managed lanes. There isn’t enough funding for the state to build our way out of the problem. Transferring some risk and cost to the regional mobility authority is a way to get projects done more quickly and allow revenue to be invested into other projects.
The Future of Transit
Major cities across the world have effective transit systems. Leaders from Minneapolis and Atlanta shared important insights into what has made their cities’ respective transit systems successful, including how Atlanta overcame previous failures at the ballot box. Both Minneapolis and Atlanta shared that transit also attracts economic development and job creation along its corridors, providing more opportunities for residents.
Innovation in the transportation space is crucial to future success, whether it is deployment of 5G or the technology that goes into making autonomous vehicles work. We were able to learn what is being worked on right here in Austin at NXP Semiconductor and how RideAustin employs technology in the ridesharing space. We also heard how technology and innovation will impact transit in the coming years.
CapMetro CEO Randy Clarke made the second big announcement of the day with his presentation. He shared his vision for Project Connect, which is the forward-looking vision for transit in Austin and Central Texas. Attendees were shown an exciting video on what autonomous rapid transit could look like in Austin and an expansive transit map with clearly defined corridors connecting all parts of our city. CapMetro is already engaging with the community on its plans for Project Connect with an eye towards making more announcements in the coming months.
Senior Director, Advocacy & Communications for Regional Mobility & Infrastructure