Transportation In Forefront for City Planning

A number of cities have begun to radically re-think their approaches to transportation.

Alex Pazuchanics, Pittsburgh’s transportation policy coordinator, recently announced “…we have  created a new department — the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. [The department is] really designing with a focus on people rather than vehicles.”

The agency will be led by Karina Ricks, the former associate director of the Washington, D.C., Department of Transportation. Her mandate will be to launch the department and collaborate on transportation initiatives with public works, planning and other officials.

“Our next step is really taking it beyond just moving those vehicles through the corridors and making sure we move people more effectively through those corridors,” Pazuchanics said.

Mayor Robert Garcia of Long Beach, California, stated “Part of the smart city challenge for us is thinking about this incredible amount of highway and streets and this infrastructure network that we have that has transitioned to cars,” Garcia said. “How do we move from that as we focus more on transit?” Rather than increasing highway lanes, Garcia is focusing on expanding rail within Los Angeles County, growing the city’s fleet of electric buses and easing the way for Uber, Lyft and eventually autonomous vehicles. “If our rail expansion goes as planned, it should reduce traffic in the county by about 25 percent,” Garcia said.

In Austin, Texas, Rob Spillar, the city’s transportation director said they need to focus on public transit. The city recently eliminated the ride sharers Uber and Lyft due to disputes regarding a city regulation on driver fingerprinting. “We’re really looking for a way to improve the lives of our community here in Austin,” Spillar said. “Transit remains really important to the whole equation. We still can’t get everyone where they need to go if everyone insists on being in a private vehicle.”