Downtown Austin CEOs have a unique perspective regarding traffic concerns and how they impact local businesses. Pamela Power is General Manger of the Central Austin publication of Community Impact, a news organization dedicated to providing useful and informative news at the community level. Community Impact is rapidly expanding and now has a greater residential distribution circulation than any other publication in Texas.
Q: What are the biggest concerns you have about transportation in and around downtown?
We have approved and adopted the Downtown Austin Plan – a plan that supports a dense, vibrant pedestrian and cyclist-friendly environment by focusing on active parks, bustling retail, live music, public art, and sidewalk dining. These things help make Austin an ideal place to live, work, and play, but not an ideal place to park, as the plan limits parking availability and raises rates. I’m concerned individuals and businesses will grow frustrated with downtown’s mobility and parking challenges. Instead of embracing and engaging in new travel practices, I fear these groups will avoid downtown.
Q: How should we think about or rethink mobility in downtown?
Until recently, owning a car gave me a great sense of freedom. I’ve felt I could travel where I’d like, when I like. But the more I bring my car into and out of Austin’s downtown, the less “free” I actually feel. In contrast, I feel tied down by the struggle to park my car and find myself distracted throughout my stay (while in meetings or at social functions) about my parking meter time. Hence, I’m reevaluating the “independence” of personal verses public transportation and finding that the growing number of options and choices in Central Austin (bus, train, bike share, Car2Go, etc.), transportation affords me far greater convenience and flexibility than a personal vehicle. I don’t think I’m the only one beginning to feel this way.
Q: What would you like to see Movability Austin, CapMetro, or someone else do to help with transportation into and around downtown?
I would like to see key policy makers and stakeholders help Central Texans think about long-term mobility needs, and stop letting immediate frustrations or old behaviors dictate our future. We need to plan for and invest in long-term mobility solutions. At the same time, we can’t wait for these long-term solutions. We need more early adopters to start changing their own travel habits and patterns in the near term, using the options we have available now.