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Council to consider Rocky Mountain Institute agreement

Thursday, November 19, 2015 by Tyler Whitson

At today’s meeting, City Council will consider authorizing a co-development agreement with the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute to carry out a “mobility transformation” program to combat Austin’s traffic problems. Greg Rucks, a principal with the organization, said at a Monday meeting of the Council Mobility Committee that, within the next year, he hopes to have “electric vehicles deployed in for-hire vehicle fleets” –including transportation network companies and taxicabs — initiation of “an autonomous-friendly regulatory environment and infrastructure,” “better mobility options tested and new, integrated commuting solutions deployed with employees,” and availability of “transit data offering more options and providing improved experience for users.” The committee voted 3-1 in favor of recommending the agreement, with Council Member Don Zimmerman opposed. Zimmerman reiterated his opposition in a work session on Tuesday, calling the nonprofit a “policy group that has a certain agenda” and saying that the agreement calls for a “50-50 match” in city resources for carrying out the program between the institute and the city. Council Member Ann Kitchen, who chairs the Mobility Committee, countered. “RMI is not setting policy, nor are they working on any projects that are their ideas. These are projects that are already within the Transportation Department’s list of activities,” she said. “With regard to the dollars, this is … a community match, not a city of Austin match. And that means that it’s a match from all the folks in the community that will be participating. And it’s an in-kind match. So we’re not held to any dollars, we’re not changing the budget.”

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