Austin partners with institute to improve transportation

Rund Khayyat

The City of Austin announced a partnership with the Rocky Mountain Institute to transform Austin’s future in transportation and mobility and make positive changes in congestion, commuting and safety.  

“Austin is growing fast, and we are at a crossroads,” mayor Steve Adler said. “To make progress on our city’s mobility challenges, we need an ‘all of the above’ approach — that means embracing innovative solutions.”

RMI is an idea aggregator that brings in minds and ideas to improve city commuting, Adler said.

“My sense is that rather than trying to explain this by grabbing a few ideas, there are hundreds of ideas out there,” Adler said. “We will no longer ask if transportation is available if we need it, but when we need it.”

Austin was chosen for the partnership, along with Denver, because it is a leader in education, technology and innovation, city manager Marc Ott said. The city also faces a huge challenge in transportation mobility because it is the fastest growing big city in the country, Ott said.

“We understand the world is transforming as we speak. RMI is out there and paying attention,” Ott said. “The partnership provides for some pretty powerful and new conversations. It brings new people to the table that think about things differently.”

The partnership will strengthen existing efforts in the city and develop new options that are quicker and easier for drivers, said mobility committee chair Ann Kitchen.

“Our ideas include streamlining transit information so citizens have it at their fingertips, making more elective vehicles, more self-driving and revamping the land code to be ready for the future,” Kitchen said. “We will transform how we think about technology.”

Through the partnership, Austin will serve as the leader and incubator of cutting edge ideas, and connect with other leading cities, businesses and universities, according to Kitchen.

“The partnership will bring many community partners, industry leaders and entrepreneurs down with new resources,” Kitchen said. “We are all joining together as we move down this path.”

For the people of Austin, this means improvements over the next 10 years in congestion and commuting times, Adler said.

“It is not going to happen overnight, but we will see cleaner, safer business opportunities, improvements in the local economy and in standard of life,” Adler said. “It’s going to take all of us to pull this off, but we can, and we will do it with you.”