The Williamson County Growth Summit in Austin, Texas focused on issues such as traffic that would arise as the county sees an increase in population and development. A major panel during the conference included the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority director, Mike Heiligenstein, an Uber Texas representative, and a public transit planner and developer from a private firm called Argo Design. It also included the founder of transportation information company, Ridescout LLC that is based in the area.
These major panel experts discussed some of the major challenges that would effect Williamson County residents as the county sees an increase in people living there. There was cause for optimism as well. Many solutions were proposed including a highly creative and ambitious one proposed by a transportation designer from Argo Design. The plan from the company was to construct an aerial gondola system that would zip commuters across Austin. Such a plan would bypass street traffic altogether. It would also help ease traffic and provide pedestrians a safer and possibly quicker alternative to navigating downtown Austin. Such a plan does have serious limitations though.
Uber’s Texas representative, said that his firm is ready to partner with public transport to provide first and last mile solutions. In other words, he believes Uber can help transport riders of mass transit to and from the bus stops in communities throughout Central Texas including Williamson county towns. One of the obstacles to getting people to use public transportation, he argued is the difficulty of getting to and from the public transportation stops on time, comfortably and reliably. Uber he says can meet and provide this crucial service and thus, help ease traffic congestion.
Mike Heiligenstein of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority offered the most practical solutions to easing traffic. Mr. Heilgenstein had served as a representative of Williamson County for many years before he was appointed to the CTRMA board as director. The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is the actual organization that plans, funds and contracts out construction work to private firms for the building of roads.
The solutions offered by Mike Heiligenstein include expanded heavily used roads leading into and out of Austin, Texas. This he said should greatly ease the commuter rush hour traffic that occurs in the area. He also argued for increased public transportation services such as buses. The roads should also be made smarter, such as with the addition of a bus only lane.