Press Release
Reflections on SXSW Eco’s “Urban Myths & Urban Mobility” Panel

Reflections on SXSW Eco’s “Urban Myths & Urban Mobility” Panel

ST. LOUIS (October 24, 2014) – Ryan Johnson, vice president of Enterprise CarShare, Rideshare and Zimride,participated in this month’s SXSW Eco panel discussion on urban transportation. The Austin-based conference’s connected Johnson with an academic researcher and a peer-to-peer car-sharing pioneer in the panel discussion – “City Transit 411: Urban Myths & Urban Mobility” – moderated by environmental journalist Jim Motavalli.

The SXSW Eco panel’s key topic: opportunity. In a recent column about the panel on the Automotive IT News site, Motavalli highlighted the benefits of Enterprise’s Rideshare offering for commuters. Motavalli pointed to the fact that every vanpool opens up nine parking spaces and stated, “Need a reason to join a commuter vanpool? Access to the HOV lanes means an average of a minute per mile saved. And in business, time is money!”

Johnson also posted a blog, reflecting on his time at SXSW Eco, his audience’s thought-provoking questions and his overall understanding that what cities and drivers need are options:

Busting Myths, Recognizing Opportunity

Last week’s SXSW Eco conference in Austin had one overriding message – change for the greater good. And amidst the sessions on water conservation, agriculture, clean tech, climate change and social impact, that message certainly came through loud and clear in our panel on urban mobility.   

The panelists – from left to right, Susan Shaheen, Padden Murphy, Ryan Johnson and Jim Motavalli – brought diverse perspectives and experiences to the literal table.

I joined a respected academic researcher, a peer-to-peer car sharing crusader and a well-known automotive reporter for a panel discussion on Urban Myths and Urban Mobility. The room was packed. The conversation was direct and provocative. And my takeaway from that conversation was this: We in the transportation industry have a big opportunity to leverage our disparate areas of expertise to make the world better by helping people get to work, school, home and play in the most environmentally and economically efficient ways possible.

Getaround’s Padden Murphy offered one of my favorite quotes of the session:

“One of the myths about urban mobility is that there can be one magic solution. Each option has its benefits and weaknesses. The way we need to look at them is as a portfolio of options for peoplethat complement each other. And we need to be providing those options in the suburbs as well as major, complicated cities like Beijing and Bangalore – otherwise we aren’t applying the environmental research that’s been done and the technology that’s been developed in a way that will truly put a dent in the universe.”   

I couldn’t agree more. At Enterprise, we strive to be a total transportation solution for our customers by providing our own range of options such as carsharing, ridesharing, car rental, car sales, fleet management and truck rental in locations around the world. But there are also public transportation solutions – buses, trains, subways – that are just as vital to our communities. Together, public transport, startups and established transport companies alike need to do a better job of supporting the needs of all. And the “portfolio” approach to transportation is how we’ll do that.

‎University of California-Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center Co-Director Susan Shaheen shared her latest research that indicates there are now 1.6 million North American car-sharing members, 24,000 car-sharing vehicles and 44 operators. The growth rate for the industry in just the past 12 months was 41 percentage points. Clearly, carsharing is one solution in the portfolio that is resonating with drivers. 

But there are others. The rise of brands such as uberX, Lyft and Sidecar – services Shaheen defines as ridesourcing – has captured considerable public interest. Shaheen noted, however, that in many cases innovation is getting ahead of regulation. She said, “Ridesourcing is one of the most disruptive forces in transportation in years. And cities are struggling with how best to respond. There is no best-practices model.”

We talked extensively about regulation. It’s vital to ensuring both public safety and fair business practices. But, it struggles to keep up with the pace of change. The possibilities for emerging transportation solutions will be limitless when regulators can focus on safety and fairness while allowing businesses to innovate and thrive.

Our audience – a mix of urban planners, students, transportation executives and other community change makers – challenged us with smart, thoughtful questions. For example, how can mid-size cities such as Austin best utilize available mobility options to reduce traffic congestion? And how can carsharing and similar technologies make transportation options more accessible in low income neighborhoods? These types of inquiries further reinforce the potential good we can do by simply helping people get from A to B. That’s the opportunity. And our team is up for the challenge.

- Ryan Johnson is Vice President, Enterprise CarShare, Rideshare and Zimride

For more information about the panel, visit Johnson’s previous blog post – “What’s Really New in Urban Mobility” – on SXSWeco.com.

About Enterprise Holdings

Enterprise Holdings and its affiliate Enterprise Fleet Management together offer a total transportation solution.  Combined, these businesses – which include extensive car rental and car-sharing services, commercial truck rental, corporate fleet management and retail car sales – accounted for more than $16 billion in revenue during fiscal 2013. The combined revenues also place Enterprise near the top of the travel industry, exceeding all other rental car companies, and most airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators and online travel agencies. Enterprise Holdings, through its regional subsidiaries, operates the largest fleet of vehicles in the world through a global network of more than 8,100 airport and neighborhood locations under the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.  Its affiliate, Enterprise Fleet Management, provides full-service fleet management to companies and organizations with small- to medium-sized fleets. Other transportation services marketed under the Enterprise brand name include Enterprise CarShare, Enterprise Rideshare, Enterprise Car Sales and Enterprise Commercial Trucks.  Enterprise Holdings is the largest car rental company in the world as measured by revenue, fleet and employees.  

Enterprise Holdings and its affiliate Enterprise Fleet Management together offer a total transportation solution.  Combined, these businesses – which include extensive car rental and car-sharing services, commercial truck rental, corporate fleet management and retail car sales – accounted for more than $16 billion in revenue during fiscal 2013. The combined revenues also place Enterprise near the top of the travel industry, exceeding all other rental car companies, and most airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators and online travel agencies. Enterprise Holdings, through its regional subsidiaries, operates the largest fleet of vehicles in the world through a global network of more than 8,100 airport and neighborhood locations under the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.  Its affiliate, Enterprise Fleet Management, provides full-service fleet management to companies and organizations with small- to medium-sized fleets. Other transportation services marketed under the Enterprise brand name include Enterprise CarShare, Enterprise Rideshare, Enterprise Car Sales and Enterprise Commercial Trucks.  Enterprise Holdings is the largest car rental company in the world as measured by revenue, fleet and employees.  

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