Does down­town need a man­ager of trans­porta­tion?

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE -

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.

BEN WEar

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