At the 19th annual Williamson Growth Summit Mike Heiligenstein (Executive Director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority), Joseph Kopser (Ridescout LLC founder), Leandre Johns (Uber, Director of Texas External Affairs), and Jared Ficklin (ArgoDesign) all met to discuss changes technology is having on transportation in the Austin region. Rideshare apps and driverless vehicles have the capacity to revolutionize transportation, but those innovations will not be enough to overcome the shear number of people moving into the Austin suburbs. Johns made the argument for Uber’s ability to help commuters make the first and last miles of their journey easier and thus encourage the use of public transportation. But even if there is a greater emphasis on mass transit and ridesharing programs, population growth is going to overwhelm any gains that might be made. One important way to keep things efficient is to make sure building codes are flexible and can cope with all the different changes. With driverless cars on the road, will people really need all that room in a parking garage to stand up? Will more charging stations be needed for electric cars? These challenges require flexibility to keep up with the pace of change. This event was held at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel
Mike Heiligenstein has Masters Degrees in Government and Business Administration. He served as an elected official for 23 years in Williamson County and during that time he served on the Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council as well as the Clean Air Force of Texas. He took on his current role in the Mobility Authority when the government agency was created in 2002. He oversaw the creation of two tollroads: first, the 183A which has an electronic cashless system, and then the 290 which is currently constructing expressway lanes. A group of peers from across the nation chose him as President of the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association for 2014.