Transportation for America: Townhall meeting at Google

Googlers Wayne Lin, left, and Jessica Wei hold a Transportation for America sign last week after the Google Town Hall Meeting. Jessica Wei is Partner Development Manager for Google Transit.

A few months ago, you may have noticed the “Transportation for America” badge that appeared in the sidebar of the Trillium Solutions blog. Transportation for America is a coalition advocacy effort aimed at improving US transportation policy to create equitable, sustainable, and cost-effective transportation and make cities, suburbs, and rural places safer and more livable. The advocacy effort is timed to influence the upcoming re-authorization of SAFETY-LU, the federal law that determines how billions of transportation dollars are spent.

The group is holding a series of town hall meetings across the U.S. Apparent recognizing the importance of easy to use travel information for sustainable mobility, the first Transportation for America town hall meeting at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Here’s an excerpt from the complete blog post, “Thinking big: The Google Town Hall Meeting”:

Over the past year, I have spoken to many different crowds about transportation reform across the country. I asked people what they want to see from our federal government about transportation – what we fund and how we fund it.

But never before did I talk with an audience that said anything like this:

“Please figure out how to make transit authorities hand over their transit service information so that we can create a seamlessly integrated system of all transit services accessible through the web.“

And they know how to do it!

As I spoke with our crowd at the Google town hall, people offered their visions of our future transportation network. It’s clear that they were thinking big and visionary.

  • A cell phone networked and safe ridesharing program for an entire region.
  • A nation with increased access to transit service through more widespread service, but also through clear, thorough information shared about the services that already exist.
  • Access to transit timetables and route information from all agencies nationwide so that developers like Google can make that data available to all users on their phone or web.
  • An interstate rail highway that crisscrosses the nation, where the rails are publicly owned like our roads, and any company that has a train engine and car can use the system.

Every town hall meeting is a one-of-a kind. And Google certainly held true to that. Google staffers envisioned a future where every person with a cell phone or access to the web would be able to easily find a shared free ride or the fastest route with trains and buses to get to school, work or home.