California’s Transit Tomorrowland

Appropriate for an event held in the shadow of the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, leaders at the 14th annual Mobility 21 Summit on Friday discussed California’s Transit Tomorrowland and strategies for keeping California competitive in a changing political and financial world.

Among the M21 Summit visual reminders that public transit is constantly building and working with Tomorrowland in mind: an electric bus, a hydrogen fuel cell bus, a Zipcar, various hybrids (bus and car) and the most beautiful car since the Back to the Future DeLorean. It’s a gorgeous (and pricey) BMW i3 electric car. Take a peek at this video. It’s the blue one on the far right. Then think about how nice it would be if someone gave you that car so you could honor our air quality.

Here is the press release from Mobility 21:

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Infrastructure experts joined forces today to seek strategies for a more competitive California by reducing congestion, improving safety and planning for our future. More than 1,000 transportation, business and elected leaders convened at the Disneyland Hotel for the 14th annual Mobility 21 Southern California Transportation Summit, which is the largest one-day transportation event in the state.

“Investing in better public transit, roads, and other travel options is the safest and most efficient way to relieve traffic in our growing region, which has the most congested roadways in the nation,” said Art Leahy, CEO of Metrolink and Chair of Mobility 21. “The economic advantages to increased mobility are clear. What Southern Californians need are stable long-term funding sources to enhance our transportation systems and provide superior infrastructure and services to an eager public that is ready to embrace 21st century mobility options.”

With a looming infrastructure deficit of $200 billion through 2035 in our region alone (as projected by the Southern California Association of Governments), funding and innovative delivery is a critical discussion topic at this year’s Summit. According to SCAG, nearly 74 percent of the funding for Southern California’s transportation projects is raised locally, predominantly through sales tax measures. State and federal support is imperative to maintain and upgrade California’s infrastructure.

“California has often been a leader in innovative and effective ways to fight congestion, climate change and lack of mobility through investments in sustainable transportation,” said Therese McMillan, Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. “To address serious funding shortfalls and manage population growth, it is critical to implement comprehensive, long-term funding solutions at the national, state and local level.”

During the Summit’s closing session, a conversation with Southern California’s port CEOs, Congressman Alan Lowenthal and leading public and private sector leaders emphasized the critical importance of our region as a gateway of international goods to our nation and the need to balance economic, community and environmental goals.

“International trade is a key driver of the region’s economy with more than a third of the state’s exports coming from Southern California,” said Lucy Dunn, President and CEO, Orange County Business Council; Vice-Chair, Mobility 21. “Future growth depends on the continued expansion of international trade, which cross-cuts every other industry. A well-connected port system ensures businesses opportunities for strategic global partnership that fuel the state and nation’s economic prosperity.”

Attendees learned about concepts being proposed to keep California competitive, including: harnessing the power of vehicle technology; alternative project delivery; mileage-based user fees; and new last mile options. Conference goers also heard from experts on how demographic trends are impacting transportation planning. The historic population growth that occurred in 1945–1965 (baby boomers) and again in 1981– 1995 (millennials) is now raising questions about how people will travel in the years to come.

“No one could have predicted the impact transportation technology has had on increasing access to a variety of mobility options,” said Hasan Ikhrata, Executive Director of the Southern California Association of Governments and Mobility 21 Board Member. “California has been ahead of the curve in combating smog and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and we will continue to be the nation’s foremost proving ground for new modes of transportation because we have innovative companies, visionary elected officials and a common desire to improve our quality of life.”

Mobility 21 is presenting awards to several transportation leaders for their efforts to keep the region moving:

  • Public Sector Leader of the Year: Hon. Kevin de León, Senate President Pro Tem, California StateSenate
  • Private Sector Leader of the Year: Noel Massie, President, UPS, South California District
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Thomas V. McKernan, Chairman of the Board, Automobile Club ofSouthern California
  • Tribute Award: Larry Sharp, Former CEO, Arrowhead Credit Union (in memoriam)For more information about the conference, visit the event website:

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