Tech-Savvy Transit Tools

We’ve talked a lot about GoingMyWay and ParkMe, as hot apps for which we have high hopes.  Here are some other apps we’ve been hearing about to get around town. What’s in your “Tech Toolbox”? 

For navigation and transit maps HopStop Austin is a great go-to app for getting from points A to B. It works in most major cities, so it’s perfect for helping you plan every step of your route, especially when you have to transfer buses/trains, or use multiple modes of transportation. MyCityWay NOW (iPhone only) is another navigation application that provides traffic feeds to help you determine the best route. Additionally GPS tracks your location to recommend the most convenient places to shop, dine, etc. along your way.

For parking assistance, ParkAtMyHouse is now available in Austin. This application is designed to help home and business owners rent available parking space by connecting them with drivers in need of convenient, safe, and cost-effective places to park. Since this is still new to Austin, there has not been a lot of activity in the private sector, but PAMH also works in conjunction with Parkopedia which shows you real-time availability of nearby parking lots, hours, and cost per hour when you to type in your location or destination.

For catching a ride, Hail A Cab (iPhone only, coming soon to Android) is still working out a few bugs, but hopefully after a few tweaks this will help simplify the process of calling a cab by connecting users directly with cabs in their area. HeyRide is a brand new Austin-based car share network that is working to connect people to carpool. And OnTheBus Project (Android only) helps people with disabilities use transit.

To record your workout or log details of your daily commute, iMapMy works with your phone’s GPS to create a log of your fitness activities on an interactive map and allows you to access your information online at MapMyFITNESS. Similarly, MapMyWalk tracks your route, distance, and pace in real-time. Strava Cycling also records your trip details; you just turn on the app and throw it in your bag.

Take a minute to comment below to share your faves and/or frustrations when it comes to transit tech tools.

Where’s Your Urban Porch?

Open multi-use spaces in our community like parks and open lots offer an opportunity for something unexpected to happen. A street fair, a pop-up shop, or some live music can easily re-purpose a city street, vacant lot or a neglected park to revitalize the space as an area to slow down and relax. When the area becomes a place to share a picnic–like the magnificent multi-city Le Dîner en Blanc phenomenon–or a space to play games with friends and family, it quickly extends the feeling of a front porch atmosphere. We can all benefit from a simple, safe place to enjoy outside our home.

Philadelphia recently revitalized an old lot at their 30th Street Station by turning it into an urban front porch space:

The new 50-foot-wide, block-long plaza replaces an unnecessary outer parking lane and barren sidewalk on one side of the station with seating, tables, shade, plantings and, depending on the week or day, perhaps music, a farmers’ market, a beer garden, or even miniature golf.  It is ambitious because, in its statement when The Porch opened, UCD said that it “sees this new space as Philadelphia’s front porch, a welcoming entryway to the city, as well as a place to linger and socialize, and to entertain and be entertained. The Porch serves to balance the indoor grandeur of 30th Street Station with the wonder and expanse of Philadelphia.”

Living in a city like Austin offers a lot of opportunities to extend our “front porch” whether its the activities that seem to pop up around every corner or just finding a place to relax and enjoy the unexpected. We’re fortunate to have lots of parks that naturally lend themselves to open air concerts and farmers markets, like Republic Square and Auditorium Shores. But when city streets close for festivals and street fairs do you ever stop to think how awesome it is? Or do you find yourself frustrated by the inconvenience of detours and traffic?

If you attended the inaugural Viva Streets you witnessed the beauty of public spaces becoming urban porches where cafes poured into our streets and became safer places to play. Similarly, DAA’s PlazaLife at Frost Bank brought play and seating that welcomed people.

Are there places or events that you think can extend Austin’s front porch? Add your comment to let us know.

Urban Growth Outpaces Suburban Growth



Reposted from Austin Mobility News because a solution to your commute could be “moving closer to your work place.”

National news reports have poured out in the last week that U.S. cities are growing faster than the suburbs for the first time since the 1920s.

“Driving the resurgence are young adults, who are delaying careers, marriage and having children amid persistently high unemployment,” according to the Associated Press report. “[T]hey are spurning homeownership in the suburbs for shorter-term, no-strings-attached apartment living, public transit and proximity to potential jobs in larger cities.”

At the same time, reports say young people are driving significantly less than past generations.

In a July 2 article, Reuters reported “Generation Y includes an increasing number of people for whom driving is less an American rite of passage than an unnecessary chore.”

That report followed an earlier study publication that showed a dip in miles driven by young people.

Young people, which data shows are driving less and living in urban environments, are a key contributor to Austin’s “creative sector.”

In March, Austin-based economic research firm TXP reported the creative sector accounted for just over $4.35 billion in Austin’s economic activity in 2010, an increase of about one-third from 2005, according to Community Impact.

The sector created more than $71 million in city tax revenues, and almost 49,000 jobs.

“We’re talking about one of the most vibrant, young and exciting pieces of the overall Austin economy,” Jon Hockenyos, president of TXP, told Community Impact News.

The unanimously-adopted Imagine Austin plan calls for a “compact, connected Austin with improved transportation options” and the Austin Transportation Department is working to implement that vision by implementing travel options to improve driving, biking, walking, and implement a regional high-capacity transit system.