When asked about their daily commute to work, residents of some of Texas' largest cities may offer a groan in response. But solutions to Texas' traffic problems – a lack of reliable mass transit, and increasingly congested roadways – may require a change in the way Texans think about transportation.
State Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), a member of the House Transportations Committee and a member of the Texas Tribune Festival's "Tyranny of the Commute"panel, says that discussions of transportation solutions like mass transit have been avoided for too long. She says that advances in transportation have not kept up with the rates at which people have moved further from the urban cores of Texas' expanding cities.
In addition to embracing concepts like telecommuting, that encourage people to work from home, Israel says Texans should rethink transportation systems that already exist. She cites facilities like park-and-ride centers that could be equipped with dry cleaning stores and day care centers, offering greater convenience to commuters. She says following the lead of cities like Dallas, which began implementing transportation reform in the late 1990s, may help incentivize similar projects in other urban areas around Texas.
"I find that people are not anti-transit, they're anti-inefficiency. They want to be able to make easy, reasonable connections, and there should be an advantage [to that]," Israel says.