Does downtown need a manager of transportation?
The story goes that 98 percent of Americans support more public transportation. For other people. So there’s more space for the car they’re driving alone to work. Ba-dum-bump.
A proposed “transportation management association” for downtown Austin would set to work on getting more Central Texans to choose something other than a single-occupant car for commuting, organizers say. And if such an entity could convince a few thousand people on MoPac Boulevard or Interstate 35 (or South Lamar Boulevard or East Cesar Chavez Street) to find other ways to get to work, that’s more room for the rest of us. Win-win. Or “win-win-win,” as consultant Stuart Anderson said to a downtown audience last week. Not sure who that third winner would be.
It’s likely the City of Austin, Capital Metro, Travis County and the Downtown Austin Alliance will each kick in $37,000 next year to hire an executive director and a parttime assistant for this new association. The director’s job would be to facilitate, mediate and agitate for things like getting employers to pay workers a transportation stipend (to be spent, potentially, on bus or rail tickets) rather than leasing parking. Anderson, in a study he did for the four funding partners, said the association would need at least three years to get established and make a difference.
It’s all about “demand management,” Anderson said. About … what?
OK, take the University of Texas. When I went to school there in the early 1970s, the ridge line between Memorial Stadium and Interstate 35 was a sea of parking lots. You could park where Bass Concert Hall sits now, and on many other places later covered up by buildings. Get there early enough, you could even park on East 23rd Street north of the stadium. The university had about 40,000 students, 80 percent of what it has now.