How can we maximize transit ridership and decrease reliance on cars?

Bobby Levinski

City Council, District 8

In the past, I had the opportunity to live car-free for two years, and that’s because I lived in a dense area, had a very convenient transit stop at the base of my building and was able to walk to work. I mention this, because I want to emphasize my understanding of how land use, density and transit accessibility has an impact on mobility. The only realistic solutions for improving mobility in our denser parts of town (e.g., Central Austin) are not reliant on single-occupancy vehicles. Land use absolutely plays a role in enabling these options, such as permitting and supporting services (restaurants, retail, etc.) within walking distances for residents, as does investing in dedicated right-of-way for mass transit to make transit riding more realistic and beneficial for people, by improving speed and reliability.

Additionally, the City needs to be more flexible with regard to technological solutions. While I do not see electric scooters as some magical transit solution for the masses, it was disappointing to see so much time and resources put into setting up barriers for entry on an idea that can at least whittle away at the surface of our mobility problems. We don’t have all the answers yet, which means we need to be more open to ideas as they come. I know, for my own transit use, the availability of electric scooters has made it possible for me to get from meeting to meeting on opposite sides of downtown quickly, without needing to mess with parking, lugging around my bike or sweating from a 20-minute walk.

As a final note, we also need better representation and diversity of perspective on our regional transportation planning bodies. There are a lot of partnership potential there between urbanist-focused groups such as AURA and environmentally focused groups such as SOS. And, I’d like to help make these connections.