Transit discussions regarding Austin usually revolve around the metropolitan itself but the recent Williamson County Growth Summit was focused on challenges of transportation regarding the whole region. The conference was graced by several prominent people like;
- Mike Heiligenstein, Regional Mobility Authority Executive Director of Central Texas.
- Joseph Kopser, RideScout LLC manager and founder.
- Jared Ficklin, ArgoDesign’s Chief Executive Officer.
- Leandre Johns, Texas External Affairs Director.
The event was held at a hotel called Sheraton Georgetown in Texas. The main topic of discussion was how technology was changing transportation in the whole world and Austin specifically. Mike Heiligenstein noted that modern day technologies like ridesharing applications and driverless vehicles could change transportation as they know it in Austin but they need to improve their transport capacities like smarter roads and more buildings. This is the only way they can satisfy the ever-growing population of Austin.
Mike continued that Williamson County has done an incredible job in planning for infrastructure the past fifteen years but a lot of people are currently moving into the area. The roads available should be increased in capacity, be technically advanced and be made smarter.
Alan McGraw, Round Rock Mayor and the moderator of the discussion, asked how the policymakers should anticipate for future change. Mike responded that land use and building codes should never be made permanent.
The building codes should be temporary since the parking garage of vehicles of the future will have several levels and be a little bit taller than the autonomous vehicles. Currently, the codes do not suit such demands.
Heiligenstein was calm on the notion of driverless vehicles although the idea popped up several times. On the idea of autonomous vehicles, he thinks that the adoption rate will be slow and tedious hence the main thing is to increase the capacity of buses and roads. They should try and match the rate of growth increase in Austin.
John, Uber’s Manager in Austin, said that the people of Austin needed a quick and efficient means to get them off and onto the public means from their homes. Uber, which is one of the ridesharing companies fit perfectly into this means. He urged people that the company has gone ahead and created subsidies that make people view it as a cheap and easy means. This marked the nineteenth year of the annual Austin Business Journal’s Williamson County Growth Summit.
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