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Leaders Should Support Innovative Solutions to Austin’s Issues

May 9, 2016

The results of Saturday’s Proposition 1 election regarding TNCs was disappointing but the voters have spoken. Unless our community can embrace new, innovative solutions, our city will remain mired in many of the issues we’re facing as a rapidly expanding metro. RECA is hopeful that in the weeks and months ahead, TNCs and the City can work out a solution that will bring this much needed service back. The fact is, Uber and Lyft were working just fine until city council added additional regulations to TNCs, including fingerprinting.

No matter the results of the Proposition 1 election, it’s undeniable that Austin and the surrounding area have a major mobility problem that requires innovative solutions. RECA believes there is no single perfect answer to solving our mobility issues, and that a multi-modal approach need to be taken.

We regularly hear about how we should build more roads, or greatly expand bus service, or put forward a new rail plan with a different route people like better. In truth, we should do all of those things over the next few years.

This requires courageous leadership and an appropriately thoughtful effort and, if successful, we as a community can implement significant solutions to our mobility issues.

The traffic situation we find ourselves in reflects our past land use choices, perennial opposition to increased capacity and our failure to deploy and promote a robust transit system. RECA strongly supports implementing the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, which provides a blueprint for growth choices that can support better mobility.

Implementing a revised land development code, as part of the CodeNEXT process, will enable the Imagine Austin vision to become reality. Put simply, giving more people the opportunity to live near where they work can have a significant impact on traffic. To get this done, there needs to be a sense of urgency with CodeNEXT to get it across the goal line sooner rather than later.

We can’t be shortsighted with our regional mobility plans. The roads into our region’s urban core were built to handle a fraction of the traffic volume that is now trying to use them, and that volume goes up every day as people move here and jobs are created.

Smart people from all over the world come to Austin every day to bring their bright ideas to life. Among them will probably be the people whose innovations make it easier for residents, businesses, and service providers to meet their mobility needs.

While Saturday’s election results were a setback, RECA will continue to encourage the city’s leaders to create conditions favorable to innovators and take a hands-on approach to solving our mobility problems, one step at a time.

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