There has been an increase in mobility demands due to a rapidly growing population, especially in the suburbs like Williamson County. In the recent Williamson County Growth Summit, transit experts met to discuss about the long term solutions to the traffic problem. The discussion panel included the director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, Mike Heiligenstein, Leandre Johns, the director of Texas External Affairs, The RideScout LLC’s Founder, and Jared Ficklin of Argo Design. Jared is a transportation-focused designer and the brain behind the proposed aerial gondola system for Central Austin. Joseph Kopser of Uber Technologies Inc was also present. Alan McGraw, the Mayor of Round Rock, moderated the session.
Focusing on the changes emerging in the transport industry owing to advancement in technology, the panelists gave their opinions of possible solution to the traffic issue. Mike Heiligenstein started by acknowledging that new technologies like ridesharing apps and autonomous vehicles would radically transform the transport sector. However, he insisted that Austin needed to improve its road capacity and increase its fleet of buses since the adoption rate to the driverless vehicles will be slow and hectic. Mike said that Williamson had done a remarkable job on structuring its infrastructure in the past 15 years. Nonetheless, they still need to invest more in growing the transport capacity because of the influx of people in the region.
Joseph emphasized that ridesharing companies like Uber are a perfect solution to help commuters get into public transport. He suggested that they would collaborate with different companies to establish subsidies that will benefit the rider and the transit agency. Supporting his idea, John said that this strategy would make it easy for people to get to the bus stop. Responding on how policymakers should prepare the future transportation needs, Ficklin proposed the use of flexible building and land use codes. Parking garages in future will require multiple levels, including charging and service stations. Since the requirement does not fit the current parking facilities, Ficklin urged policymakers to be realistic with their recommendations. This information was originally mentioned on Biz Journal as provided in the following link http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2016/12/15/transit-experts-offer-solutions-for-williamson.html
About Mike Heiligenstein
Apart from his current position at the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, Mike also serves as president of the International Bridge, Turnpike Association and Tunnel. He is a board member of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and many other committees and entities that deal with transportation. For 23 years, Mike served the citizens of Williamson County as a public official. Mike is an alumnus of the University of Texas. He holds two Masters Degrees. One is in Business Administration and the other in Government.