U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx Visits Austin to Talk Innovations

Screen shot 2015-05-06 at 11.40.13 AMIn April, Movability Austin got a call from U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s staff. When we stopped suspecting it was a late April Fools gag, we realized they were asking us to host a roundtable discussion with the Secretary and thought leaders in Austin to talk about a hot topic: Innovations Filling the Infrastructure Funding Gaps. So we called RideScout, the coolest office space in town, and asked if they would join us in hosting the Fabulous Mr. Foxx.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Lt. General Joe Weber, and local business leaders joined us to discuss what everyone in town seems to be talking about lately: our city’s booming growth and the gridlock traffic coming with it.

“If our elected officials in D.C. really knew what kind of growth was coming here in Texas, they would be scared,” said Secretary Foxx. Amen brother Foxx, and we know it living in Austin with the growing pains every day. That’s why beginning discussions about how to do transportation differently is so important.

Key highlights from the event included:

Changing Demands: We are seeing a significant trend in the decline in car ownership and rise in downtown living among several generational groups, including Millennials. Said Secretary Foxx, “the Millennial generation is taking a different approach. They are less likely to want a muscle car, and more likely to want a bicycle, live in a metro area and use mass transit.”

Technology’s Role in Transportation: “The rate of changes in technology are astounding and moving faster than I ever thought possible,” said Secretary Foxx. “One thing we can do at federal, state, and local levels is begin to lean in and talk to the tech community and evaluate if there are new tech practices we as government can do to adapt into this new century.”

Autonomous Vehicles: There’s a lot of excitement and curiosity over how driverless vehicles will change the way we travel. Secretary Foxx commented on his recent visit to Google to see their autonomous vehicle: “those cars actually follow the rules of the road, unlike many of us here,” which elicited laughs from the crowd.

“We need to seriously think about doing things differently in the future. Transportation can no longer just be about cars and roads,” said Lt. General Weber TxDOT’s Executive Director. And most in the room did a great job of creating a long list of “top” items to work on as we adapt to the new demands, technologies, and necessities pushing everyone to think about innovations.

“This is an impressive group. I can’t believe it took a visit from a U.S. Secretary to bring us together. Now I am thinking we should find a way to reconvene this group to tackle some of the issues discussed today,” said Judge Eckhardt.

Check out Secretary Foxx’s KUT Interview here.

Photo via Sean Mathus and RideScout

One Response to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx Visits Austin to Talk Innovations

  1. resa pratt says:

    Thanks for the notification of US Transportations visit to Austin. This news brief would have been much more useful if it included the attendees and the points that came out of the meeting. I’m glad Mr. Foxx asked for the meeting. I’m interested in the crux of his purpose with the few Austin officials and the unnamed business leaders. – Sincerely,
    Resa Pratt
    South Austin Resident