Downtown Austin CEOs have a unique perspective regarding traffic concerns and how they impact local businesses. Tim League is the CEO and Founder of the Alamo Drafthouse, which includes the 11 location theater chain, Drafthouse Films, Badass Digest and Fantastic Fest.
Q: How do you see transportation impacting and/or challenging your business in downtown Austin?
I would love to see a greatly expanded rail network connected to downtown. Eventually that will spur more [non drive alone] commuting as well as additional residential and commercial development along the rail lines. Downtown roads and all the major freeways at rush hour are horribly congested and are getting worse every year. Rail is the only viable way I see to take some of the pressure off the roads and encourage the growth of a population that isn’t tied to driving a car. For those who do drive and circle to find parking, I would also like to see a mandatory unified parking wayfinding system for downtown that is tied to iPhone and Android apps.
Q: How do you get to work and/or get around downtown? And how well does work for you?
I ride my bike to work every day. Compared to other progressive cities, we don’t have nearly as strong a bike infrastructure. We do have a few “bike lanes” but those are really shared lanes with cars with very faded painted wayfinding. There is talk of a bikeshare system being deployed in Austin. It would be incredible if we could, in concert with that deployment have dedicated and safe bike lanes all throughout the inner city. Montreal is a great example of a city doing bike lanes and bixi bike rental correctly.
Q: Do many of your employees use commute options like bicycling, transit, carpooling, etc.? If not, why do you think they aren’t?
Our corporate offices are at 612 East Sixth Street (6th just east of Red River, next to the old Emo’s location) where we have about 60 employees. We encourage our employees who live close to use our corporate Car2Go account and we have a couple of folks who commute in on light rail. We have bike racks inside the building and scooter parking behind the office. Some of our employees have moved downtown too, in order to be able to walk to work.
Q: What would you like to see Movability, Austin, Cap Metro, or someone else do to help with transportation into and around downtown?
Three things: rail, rail and more rail. Spanning the city with efficient light rail is the best answer to our traffic congestion problems.
This is our second interview in our series: Downtown Mobility for the New Breed of Entrepreneurs. Check out our interview with Fred Schmidt, CEO and Publishing Director of Portalarium, here.