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Movability’s dedicated board is made up of a great group of professionals from myriad industries, and we want to highlight some of the wonderful ideas and insights they have! In this series we’ll introduce our board members and share some of their thoughts on TDM and mobility in Austin. This week, meet Rob Spillar. Rob is Director of Transportation for the City of Austin.

A: I joined shortly after Movability was formed, in 2012. One of the needs I always believed Austin had was the need for a public-private partnership to promote TDM (transportation demand management) and to advocate for behavior change. Our golden goose is our central core, it represents something like 40% of the region’s employment. The central downtown, along with the Capitol Complex and University of Texas represent the economic engine for the region . Austin doesn’t have the ability to provide significant new capacity options in and out of downtown . Sure the region has shown that on MoPac we can provide maybe a couple more lanes in each direction and on I-35 we might be able to provide a couple of new lanes, but we already have demand to fill that new capacity now . If our economic engine in downtown is to continue to thrive, we have to figure out how to get more people in and out of the central activity area – and the big question is, how do we do that in fewer vehicles so that the new capacity we are able to add provides the greatest benefit. The next wave of residents, visitors, and employers won’t be able to get here the way the rest of us did in our single occupancy vehicles, so we have to make room for them by managing our own use of the scarce transportation resources – in other words, TDM ? We have to get people who can commute by something other than driving alone to do so to make room for others .

A: We have to work within the state laws here in Texas. Right now, that means we can encourage TDM using carrots. We know that employees that work for companies that offer commuting alternatives and TDM programs report that they feel positive about their place of work. We know that we can lower the cost of providing parking for employers by reducing their employee use. And, by reducing employee parking demand we know that businesses make it easier for their customers and clients to find parking, especially within our congested downtown core. All these things are positive outcomes for businesses in our region. Other states like California, Oregon and Washington have state mandates for trip reductions at large employer locations. These state mandates serve as a major incentive for companies to participate because of their associated penalties for non-participation. However, in Texas we have to rely on encouragement and other carrots to get folks to change behavior.

A: I think government has a role to play in terms of setting policy on the right track to encourage specific outcomes. Parking is a major issue in debate right now. Many in the industry would say there is too much cheap parking available. At the same time, there are locally specific locations where there is likely insufficient parking. The real issue is how the parking is managed. Increasingly, we need to form public private partnerships that can assure that ample public (customer) parking is available and that employees are using the full commuter toolbox to access employment sites – like walking, biking, transit, carpool, etc. Here in Central Texas, we are still heavily dependent on the private automobile. All of our mobility planning is pointing to “Carmageddon” if we are unsuccessful in changing commuting behaviors. Our community’s traffic congestion and perceived lack of mobility options can only be addressed if we collectively start managing the way we access our major employment and educational centers. This takes a true partnership between the public and private side of the equation.

I also believe that City government needs to set the example. We are promoting commuting alternatives to our employees. But even for our employees, TDM represents a behavior change. It’s hard to achieve. But like our private sector partners, we have to keep trying to reach our goal.

The increased frequency on so many routes is the biggest improvement Cap Remap will bring to the bus system. But another goal of the redesign is to provide better east-west connections throughout Austin. So much of our city’s transportation network is designed is to move people north and south (along I-35, MoPac and Lamar Boulevard, for example). Cap Metro’s services have tended to follow suit, sometimes making it difficult for people to get from east of the highway to the other side of town and vice versa.

Cap Remap’s new bus network, though, does a lot to improve that situation. In the north part of the city, for instance, Route 325 Metric/Rundberg travels along Rundberg Lane between Metric Boulevard and Cameron Road. And in South Austin, Route 333 will operate on William Cannon from Brodie Lane all the way east of I-35 past Onion Creek Park. Both do so as part of the High-Frequency Network, operating every 15 minutes, seven days a week.

The Route 300 Springdale/Oltorf is a long route that goes from Crestview Station (at Lamar and St. Johns) down south to the Westgate Shopping Center. Along the way, it provides excellent east-west connectivity on St. Johns, 51 st Street and Oltorf. The greatest benefit this provides is connecting to major north-south routes. The new 300 routing takes it along 51st Street between Cameron and Springdale. This allows customers to connect with three other High-Frequency routes (the 10, 20 and 335) on that stretch alone.

Similarly, the new Route 337 Koenig/Colony Park connects Colony Park to Koenig and MoPac (serving Reagan High School and ACC Highland on the way). It also provides transfer points for High-Frequency Routes 7, 10, 20, 300, 801 and 803. This provides Far East Austin residents consistent and reliable transit access to downtown, as well as better access to Midtown and North Austin destinations.

If you’re interested in learning more about the new bus network, visit CapMetro.org/Remap. You’ll find interactive maps, bus schedules, lots of detailed information and, most importantly, the Cap Metro Trip Planner. With that, you can learn which bus to take and when it to take it.