Meet Movability’s Newest Members!

Movability has a new membership program, and we’re excited to be working with employers, service providers, and individuals that all want to find better ways to commute and help Austin’s economy thrive. We’re happy to be welcoming several new and renewing members on board this month! Read on to learn who they are and what they do in Austin.

  • Holtzman Partners is a full-service accounting firm that works with a variety of businesses and organizations, from startups to nonprofits.
  • Merck announced plans to open a technology and innovation center in Austin, and will have about 600 employees here. As part of its plans around an Austin presence, the company made mobility planning a key part of its strategy from the get-go.
  • Silicon Labs, a renewing Movability member, is a semiconductor company and a leading provider of silicon, software, and solutions for a connected world.
  • Statesman Media provides research, advertising and integrated media, and publishes the Austin American Statesman.
  • University of Texas at Austin, also a renewing Movability member, is the University of Texas’s flagship university, and home to more than 3,000 teaching faculty and 50,000 students.

Together they are leading the way in shaping a vibrant, healthy, and successful Austin!

If Movability membership looks like it would make sense for you or your employees, learn more about joining here!

Soon, More Capital Metro To Love

Big changes are coming to Central Texas transit, with a new Cap Metro Round Rock bus service and more frequent MetroRapid schedule starting next week.

MetroRapid

The improvements to the MetroRapid service grew out of the Connections 2025 Transit Plan, which is designed to create a more frequent, more reliable and better-connected bus system. Frequency increases, which will begin on Aug. 20, mean that both Routes 801 and 803 will run every 10 minutes between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays and every 15 minutes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekend. Late-night service will operate until 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, giving riders a safer and cheaper transportation alternative when going out after dark.

Fixed-route service in Round Rock

Capital Metro will launch the city of Round Rock’s fixed-route bus service on Monday, Aug. 21. The agreement to provide the new service is the first Capital Metro has reached with a city outside its service area, but the agency is discussing similar arrangements with other cities throughout Central Texas.

Two routes will operate weekdays between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., one a circulator within Round Rock itself and the other connecting to MetroRail’s Howard Station. Route 52 will have two morning trips and two afternoon trips each weekday and take commuters from the Round Rock Transit Center at 300 W. Bagdad Ave. to the Tech Ridge Park & Ride where they will connect to MetroRapid and other Capital Metro routes. Eventually, once the MoPac managed lanes are fully opened, MetroExpress Route 980 will run from the Round Rock Transit Center to the Park & Ride at New Life Austin Church and then continue service into downtown Austin.

The more frequent MetroRapid routes and new Round Rock service make it easier for more commuters to try transit. Are you an employer interested in learning more about how to help employees connect with options like transit? We can help!

What We Did Over the Summer

The annual Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) conference is always one the Movability Austin team looks forward to. It’s a great way to share ideas and learn more about what other cities, organizations, and employers are doing to combat mobility problems. This year was no exception, and our Program Managers Alix Scarborough and Thomas Butler attended the conference in New Orleans. Here are a few takeaways:

  • Econ 101

Nelson Nygaard’s Principal and Director of Strategy, Jeff Tumlin, reminded attendees to remember Economics 101 when working to change the transportation landscape. Tumlin said that there’s a very big economic factor to transportation – after all, personal mobility is incredibly inefficient. Privately owned cars are only used about 5% of the day, and sit taking up space for the other 95%. Yet commuters tend to habitually choose driving alone at peak rush hours rather than using options – and consequently pay a price of wasted time. Rather than urging commuters to change their habits based on ideology like “I’m better than you for riding my bike or taking the bus,” Tumlin urged mobility leaders to make a case based on efficiency and geometry – people traveling alone by car take up 10 times more space than needed for other modes of transportation, space that’s increasingly valuable in our cities. Do we really want to give it all over to cars?

  • The Role of Parking

Free, plentiful parking will always make it easy for commuters to stick with ingrained, drive-alone habits. But many employers are facing parking pinches. So how to incentivize other commute options? Employers like Google and the City of Austin spoke about incentivizing alternative commutes. Google provides preferred parking spaces for electric vehicle carpoolers and provides shuttles and bike facilities. The City of Austin’s Tien Tien Chan talked about its success in encouraging friendly competition among departments when it comes to alternative commutes and Smart Commute Rewards, which gives City employees vacation time for using mobility options.

  • What Changes Technology Will Bring

There’s no doubt that with autonomous vehicles now hitting the roads, technology will reshape transportation. But there’s not yet consensus on just how it will change. A road filled with individuals in self-driving cars will not improve any of the challenges we currently face, like congestion and pollution. But leaders in TDM can be proactive about shaping an autonomous future with shared, electric cars that in turn leave more space for people in our central cities.

Some experts believe there will be a reduction in parking demand of about 80% if people shift from private car ownership to hailing autonomous vehicles. That could have big implications for our downtown spaces – think more space for walking and increased economic vitality – but only if we are proactive about how to put this technology to use.

Photo by Alix Scarborough