Electrifying News in Transportation

There’s new energy in the Seaholm EcoDistrict! Last week, Austin Energy unveiled Electric Drive, a multi-use recharging station powered entirely by renewable energy. The charging kiosk and ports for electric vehicles are at home on a street that got an an honorary designation as “Electric Drive” along West Second Street, coordinated by the Austin Transportation Department (ATD) in 2015.

The goal of this street name is to enhance this downtown area through the association of a street name more in line with its location, characteristics, new charging station infrastructure, information displays and history.

Electric Drive also serves as a mobility hub that features bike sharing, car sharing, access to the hike-and-bike trail, and charging options for two- and four-wheel electric vehicles. For information on rebates and services for drivers and riders of electric vehicles, go to PlugInAustin.com.

Elsewhere in the city, ATD installed a northbound bike lane on Comal Street between Fifth and 11th streets in February, improving an important north-south bike route that runs parallel to I-35 in East Austin. Through a stakeholder input process, ATD heard that this route is a valuable asset for cyclists traveling between East Austin, downtown and other areas. It is also an identified bike route in the City of Austin Bicycle Master Plan.

Comal Street connects Central East Austin with the Butler Hike and Bike Trail as well as Fourth and Fifth streets, which lead to the Montopolis Bridge to the east and downtown to the west, creating further opportunities to travel safely by bicycle.

Do you hope to see more projects like this in your area? Let the City know! Although ATD just wrapped up Walk+Bike Talks, a series of open house meetings throughout Austin, they are still holding a Virtual Open House where you can provide online input on the prioritization of needs in the Bicycle Master Plan. Your input will shape which projects are prioritized and funded from a variety of funding sources, including the 2016 Mobility Bond. Participate online here through April 15.

SXSW Means Creative Commuting

SXSW is a lot of fun, but it can also mean a lot of traffic. And that’s why savvy downtown employers encouraged employees to use alternative commutes during this year’s SXSW. The Downtown Austin Alliance took options to a whole new level during SXSW, with prizes, parties, and commute consulting. DAA President and CEO Dewitt Peart led by example by taking Capital Metro’s Express bus – his first time using that route. And other employees tried everything from carpooling and transit to walking, teleworking, and bike riding.

The organization set up commute chats – much like those Movability offers Austin employees – so that DAA employees could find the best commute fit. The DAA also let employees try options for free, including MetroBus, MetroRail, B-Cycle, Car2go, and Chariot.

Everyone who used options to get to work won a prize, so that employees got daily recognition and swag like travel mugs, candy, and stickers.

For some DAA employees, the break in driving habits has already led to new commutes. Jenell Moffett, director of research & analysis, rode the bus before going on vacation, and spent some of her vacation thinking about how she didn’t want to go back to driving.

“When I already have a busy day ahead, driving myself to work is just one more thing to deal with. I’m stuck in traffic and I’m trying to get to work as fast as I can. But on the bus, there’s no pressure on me to rush – I accept that I will get there when I get there! Taking the bus was easier than I thought, and the best part was actually walking a few blocks from the bus stop to the office. It helped me de-stress and enjoy the fresh air. Plus, being a mom, it’s nice to let someone else drive for once!”

Mandi Thomas, development director, says she enjoyed parking at a co-worker’s house near downtown, and walking into the office.

“My walk to work was almost 2 miles, but it seemed like no time at all. I didn’t check my watch or worry about being late, like I do when I drive. I loved getting exercise, and it allowed me to get mentally prepared for the day.”

If you like the way this stress-relieved workplace sounds, contact Movability about connecting your employees with options!





Capital Metro, ATD Get Some of the SXSW Spotlight

Some of Movability Austin’s founding partners were up to very interesting things during SXSW.

Capital Metro, together with RATP Dev, hosted a public demonstration of an EasyMile EZ10 autonomous shuttle on the University of Texas at Austin campus. The 12-passenger shuttle gave rides to about 300 people over two days, and showed how RATP Dev and Capital Metro are working together to connect people with options.

“Because transit is not a one-size-fits-all solution to mobility challenges, we are actively working to identify cost-effective technologies that will allow us to better match our services to the needs of the community,” said Wade Cooper, chairman of the Capital Metro board of directors.

Austin Transportation Department Director Rob Spillar also had a chance to weigh in on autonomous vehicles, and their role in cities. Rob was part of a special panel discussion at the C3 Smart Mobility Showcase, where stakeholders from the public and private sector discussed how data about mobility trends can be leveraged to understand where autonomous vehicles (AVs) can be best positioned to provide maximum benefit to cities and their citizens.

Image via Capital Metro