By Dean Hybl, Executive Director, Ten at the Top
While increased traffic congestion around our primary transportation corridors and lack of access to transportation for some Upstate employees have become growing concerns in our region in recent years, the reality is that other regions across the nation and globe have been dealing with similar challenges for many years and decades.
I was fortunate to be among a number of Upstate leaders who participated in the recent Movin’On Mobility Summit hosted by Michelin in Montreal.
Billed as the World Summit on Sustainable Mobility, more than 4,000 people from across the globe participated in the conference with the goal of bringing global, smart, sustainable and multimodal mobility to life.
It is perhaps natural to think that other places have all the answers and that we are behind when it comes to addressing our transportation and mobility challenges in the Upstate. However, while there are communities doing amazing, cutting-edge initiatives, one of my interesting takeaways from the conference was that no city or region has come up with all the answers. In fact, regions across the globe are scrambling to figure out how to connect local mobility and transportation needs with dramatic innovations in technology and a global desire to improve sustainability and mitigate impacts to the environment.
While the general theme of the conference focused around innovation and technology, many of the speakers spent as much time talking about the importance of creating a community culture that can enable success. Building a vision for what you want to accomplish and then collaborative partnerships with everyone who can play a role, even though many of those players may technically be competitors, was an underlying theme spoken over and over by presenters from all over the globe.
“Collaboration between the public and private sector is the key to the future,” said Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard in the conference opening.
Adam Blinick, the Director of Public Policy and Communications for Uber Canada said that “you need a vision of where you want to go first. Technology shouldn’t be the end.”
Blinick added that “a joint vision is not a technical challenge, it is a collaborative challenge. You have to bring together all the transportation modes that play a role in mobility and work together to accelerate the trends we are already seeing.”
Joanna Kerr, Executive Director of Green Peace Canada, moderated a panel about creating an inclusive transformation and said that “collaboration is becoming increasingly important in helping meet our mobility needs.”
Given that stakeholders from across the Upstate region have been spending much of the last year working to develop a transportation vision, actionable strategies and a framework for continuing to build and grow collaborative partnerships through the Connecting Our Future initiative, you can certainly say that the Movin’On conference affirmed that approach.
However, it is also very clear that we cannot stop just simply with creating a regional mobility vision. For the Upstate to tangibly address our growing challenges around mobility and transportation, we must take the next step and continuing building the partnerships and “community will” needed to turn vision into action.
Sampo Hietanen, Founder & CEO of MaaS Global in Helsinki talked about creating a dream for people that goes beyond simply owning a vehicle, but gives them aspirations about how having multiple mobility choices can positively impact their life. He also said that to create sustainability you have to focus not just on projects, but on enabling the market that will then allow for the cultivation of projects.
In an Upstate region where 94% of all residents use a personal vehicle to get to work and our investment in public transportation is near the bottom of most rankings, our solutions are going to be different than in some other parts of the country and world. Yet, if we can cast a compelling vision for how multiple mobility solutions can positively impact the quality of life for all Upstate residents, over time we can create a future that enables greater mobility.
What we must do in the Upstate is continue to grow a coalition of partners and stakeholders who are committed to supporting and prioritizing the multiple projects and solutions needed to impact how we move people and goods across the Upstate. As was said multiple times by speakers at the conference, there is no one “silver bullet” to fix transpiration and mobility in a community and having the right partners at the table to enable change will be crucial.
I invite you to join us for the unveiling of the regional vision and actionable strategies and the start of the discussion on “next steps” during a regional event on August 7th from 11:30 am-1:30 pm at the TD Convention Center. This event is open to the public and you can register to attend at www.connectingourfutureupstatesc.org.