Movability Austin is getting ready to make a shift. Glenn Gadbois, our first Executive Director, is leaving. While we’re excited as we think back to all that we and Austin have accomplished when it comes to mobility, we look forward to the important work to come.
As of May 1, the Downtown Austin Alliance will take over running Movability. That means if you need to reach us, you’ll find us in the Downtown Alliances’s office at 211 East 7th Street, suite 818. Thankfully, Program Manager Alix Scarborough will continue her great work with Movability members.
Glenn was hired as Executive Director in August 2011 before Movability Austin even had its name – or a checkbook – at a time when only a few organizations (City of Austin, Downtown Austin Alliance, Travis County and Capital Metro) saw a need for more work around mobility. Since then, Movability has doubled its employees and budget, but more importantly the people involved have done some incredible work.
Over the course of five years, Movability has worked with dozens of high profile employers downtown, helping these companies set up and offer their employees mobility benefits from discounted transit passes to remote work programs. We have also helped more than 7,000 employees find commute options that will work for them and begin to use those options.
We have also applied some of the latest research techniques to the work we do helping people embrace and connect with mobility options. Last summer, we trained 15 interns in motivational interviewing and began Austin’s first Smart Trips program, doing commute chats on the street and in offices around downtown.
The Mobility Challenge that we launched in 2014 for Central Texas businesses now has 30-plus employers participating and using mobility as a tool to help them recruit and retain talented employees, while also getting at least 20% of their employees using mobility options.
Additionally, we have developed some great public sector partnerships to help us do all of this with organizations like the City, Capital Metro and TxDOT. On the private sector side we’ve partnered with some of the most innovative entities in transportation like The Thrival Company, RideScout (now Moovel), and the Rocky Mountain Institute. We have also built strong relationships with most of the companies providing transportation services in town from engineering firms to shuttle providers and ridesharing companies.
“Movability Austin has experienced some tangible successes in the past months,” says Jim Pledger, Movability board chair and partner at Jackson Walker LLP. “We were very pleased with the quality of services Movability was able to provide as part of the Chamber’s 20/20 Mobility Solutions Initiative. Now, with Mayor Adler’s Mobility Challenge, we are excited about being able to help a wider range of employers in Austin as they plan and work to achieve measurable reductions in drive-alone rush hour commutes. We continue to increase the number of downtown employers that we are serving and we are always open to new members.
“We are about to enter into a new relationship with the Downtown Austin Alliance, and we believe that through this relationship we will be able to significantly expand the scale of our operations and services to reach even more downtown employees and help them recognize and take advantage of the alternate transportation options that are available in Austin.”
We’re proud of the work we and our partners have accomplished – but we’re not resting on our laurels, and neither should anyone else. Austin needs a lot more. Austin needs more capacity to do even more of the work Movability has been engaged in, and some of that is on track in this next phase of our development via our partnership with the Downtown Alliance. The Austin area needs to build a more serious commitment in planning and funding for the “demand” side of transportation – the people using the system. Some of that will definitely happen if Austin is selected as the Smart City Challenge winner. All in all, there is a great deal more energy, time, and commitment to helping people find and use travel options now than even five years ago, and that is amazing progress from 2011.