Translogic Features Austin as A Leader of Innovative Transportation

AOL’s Translogic recently featured a visit to Austin, showcasing our tech-savvy transportation infrastructure. In less than six minutes the webisode dashes through multiple transit projects and a variety of facts about our urban development’s forward thinking and multimodal emphasis. Because this whirlwind feature left us simultaneously flattered and eager to talk more about the issues at hand, we thought we might pick up where Translogic left off on some of the key issues that are making a big change around town.

If you’re living in Austin, you probably know by now that the city is growing at a rapid pace.  It’s been estimated that about 75 people are moving here daily—that’s a 30% population growth per year! That means our little city has some big challenges ahead. What are we doing about them? Well, let’s take a closer look at some of what Translogic mentioned.

As Rob Spillar (the Transportation Director for Austin) explains, we have to start from the basic pedestrian experience and build up to a system of options where people aren’t forced to drive everywhere, but can choose the most efficient options for the trip they need to take. That is the best way to curb the gridlock of traffic that we already have, which will only get worse if don’t significantly change the way we address transportation. Under that notion, Austin has recently approved plans for the Pedestrian Bridge over 360 and Barton Creek which will complete a path and increase usability for cyclists and pedestrians.  There are also plans in motion to increase designated downtown sidewalks from 6 feet to 10-18 feet wide to open space for sidewalk cafes, activities, and a vibrant streetscape–similar to the model of West 2nd Street.

Next, there are a lot more people bicycling to get to work, especially in urban areas.  And that is a good thing, especially if design increases safety and reduces conflicts.  So, likewise the City and Capital Metro are responding to the demand for bikeways, shower facilities, storage stations, etc. to meet our growing needs. Many employers have inevitably become more receptive to the likelihood of employees biking to work and are seeking ways to encourage commuter programs and provide showers to satisfy this progressive, eco-friendly transit option. Additionally, a bike share program is set to debut Spring 2013 (see interview with Craig Staley @ bike share).

Capital Metro and the City are also partnering to increase transit services with Rapid Bus starting in 2014, expand rail services, and improve local and express services to reduce wait and trip times, even make service more attractive with WiFi, real-time bus information, and more.

This does not mean the current approach to transportation is neglecting roads and car travel. There are major improvements underway for MoPac, I-35 and more.  Other great options are Car2Go and ZipCar, which conveniently include gas and insurance in their costs.

Now comes the tech-savvy part, where Karl Popham of Austin Energy shines a light on Austin’s electric vehicle developments with Charge Point America. We currently have over 100 charging stations, which you can locate at MyChargePoint.net. As further incentive to drive electric—Green Choice Program powered by west Texas Wind– GoElectricDrive.com calculates the economic impact of how much you are saving in comparison to driving a gas vehicle.

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