Austin’s Mobility Moment: Initiatives leading Austin into a Multimodal Future

John T. Kennedy, our first SmartAustin Fellow, is a transportation and urban policy consultant working with local communities and innovators to unlock mobility solutions. Prior to serving as Vice President of Mobility for the Downtown Austin Alliance, he was a senior leader and adviser at the United States Department of Transportation and White House Domestic Policy Council. He holds four degrees from the University of Texas at Austin including a MS in Community and Regional Planning from the School of Architecture and MPA from the LBJ School of Public Affairs. This first post, in a multi-part series on the future of mobility in Austin, identifies themes and topics to be addressed in future posts.


Often cited as the worst part of living in Austin, will we or won’t we ever solve the congestion issues associated with a rapidly growing population? Is it just a traffic issue or something bigger?

Transportation has always been intertwined into every aspect of the human experience. The original trailblazers gave way to the public and private provision of vast transportation networks all around us -- over land, at sea, and now in the air as well. From quality of life to economic activity to public health and environmental impacts, the real costs and benefits for society in general are staggering. And when considering the stakes for our climate and way of life, and across technology, policy, engineering, and regional planning, one might wonder whether our civilization has become complex beyond our management ability.

As engines of innovation and community, the world’s municipalities now collaborate across civil society, industry, academia, and political leadership to identify challenges and implement smart mobility solutions. Central Texas and Austin, in particular, are faced with a particularly complex set of challenges, but also have some unique advantages. That is a large part of why I want to focus our first set of conversations in the community around mobility and around the question of “What makes Austin Smart for transportation and mobility?” and, yes, “Where are we not so smart?”

I’ll explore these issues in two series of future posts:

Transforming Transportation: Initiatives advancing Austin’s multimodal future by reducing single-occupant auto travel

  • Institutional Initiatives: What’s Working, What Isn’t
    • TxDOT Interstate 35 Rebuild
    • CAMPO and Capital Metro Project Connect
    • City of Austin Strategic Mobility Plan + CodeNEXT
    • Austin Downtown Parking Strategy
    • Our Congress Avenue
  •  Community Initiatives: What’s Working, What Isn’t
    • Reconnect Austin
    • #ATXRail
    • Multimodal Community Advisory Committee
    • Congress for All
    • Ciclovia

Mobility at Your Service: Austin at the bleeding edge of mobility technology testing and implementation

  • Startups and pilots across many modes, vehicle types, and ownership models
  • Entrepreneurial ecosystem enablers and innovator communities
  • Behavioral and policy considerations:
    • Transportation demand management and developer initiatives
    • The multifaceted public and private roles in the mobility market

In my next post, we’ll focus on institutional initiatives critical to Austin’s mobility future, and see what we can learn. Until next time, cheers!