The Wire

Austin on a Wire: Public Transportation Re-imagined

Last week Michael McDaniel spoke about a proposal to change mass transportation in Austin at an event hosted by Creative Mornings Austin. The Wire – an urban cable car system suspended by wires – offers a unique means of addressing the transportation infrastructure challenge for a growing city.

Challenge of Transportation Infrastructure
Transportation infrastructure challenges are about land management. Does urban planning create communities that support jobs and commerce for the people who live there? If not, or if there is sprawl, we facilitate people’s ability to travel between their point A and B through transportation infrastructure – and public transportation is a part of this. Austin offers public transportation including a bus and newly launched light rail system. What about a third option?

Community and Commuter Benefits
Community and commuter benefit from public transportation. Moving people with fewer vehicles reduces impact on existing roads requiring less maintenance; less toxic emissions helps create healthier air; and reduced roadway congestion allows commuters to arrive at their destination quickly. For the commuter the difference between driving in traffic and a ride on public transportation means the opportunity to identify action plans for the day; read more; catch up on phone calls or emails; or have time to decompress before arriving home.

The Wire
Current public transportation systems help address an infrastructure over-stretching to support our growing community. Expansion is necessary and the Wire offers additional benefits critical to include in those discussions. The Wire can ameliorate some limitations existing systems have:

The Wire

Frog Design’s renderings of what a cable car system in downtown Austin could look like.

  • Access points need not be limited to existing roads – access points can be anchored in areas with limited existing roads (ex. Zilker Park).
  • Aerial cars can travel a path circumventing traditional roadways and land access. Birds travel by flying straight over rivers or greenbelts – so can the Wire.
  • Riders can access the Wire based upon their schedule, not the system’s schedule.
  • The Wire can displace 4,000 cars currently crowding the roads per hour during rush hour.
  • The average rush-hour commuter travels approximately eight miles per hour; the Wire can travel at 15 miles per hour.
  • Building the Wire will cost one quarter of the price tag attached to building light rail – per mile.

In addressing our transportation infrastructure challenge we have to ask ourselves: Are we willing to try something a little weird?

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