We are living in the midst of a transportation revolution. There have been fundamental changes in how people move around cities and towns across the world. In the San Diego region, you can feel it every day.
Everywhere you look, people are driving electric cars, which reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, which didn’t exist a decade ago, are now wildly popular. Urban landscapes are changing before our eyes as private companies offer fleets of electric scooters, bikes, and other vehicles to people who want quick and easy solutions for short trips. New neighborhoods that weave walking, biking, public transit, and electrified mobility into the fabric of everyday life are popping up.
Technology is at the heart of many of these changes, enabling innovation like never before. Nevertheless, there is no substitute for creative and visionary thinking, and the dedicated professionals at the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) are thinking big. In times of uncertainty, this outlook is all the more important.
As the new Executive Director at SANDAG, I have set an ambitious course for us because I truly believe the San Diego region can lead the nation and the world in reinventing transportation. I was honored to be named the 2019 Voice of the Year by Voice of San Diego, and it is because of the dedication and ambition of my staff that my voice can be heard. By marshaling the tremendous talent that we have at the agency, we are moving forward deliberately and boldly.
That’s what our 5 Big Moves are all about. Complete Corridors will redefine how highways and roads are used and managed to increase safety, capacity, and efficiency. Transit Leap will build a network of high-capacity, high-speed, and high-frequency transit services. Mobility Hubs will transform the heart of communities, where a variety of travel options will come together in a single place. Flexible Fleets will provide on-demand and shared electric vehicles that connect to transit. The Next Operating System will be the new brain of the entire regional transportation system.
These 5 Big Moves are guiding our work as we develop the 2021 Regional Plan, which will shape the way people and goods move throughout our region for years to come. Our overarching goal is simple: to help improve the quality of life for everyone in our region and grow a robust economy.
One of my first priorities is to build a world-class transit hub that connects people to the San Diego International Airport. This collaborative effort has joined leaders from the Navy, the Airport Authority, the Port of San Diego, the City of San Diego, and both of the region’s transit agencies. We have identified a 71-acre Navy property one mile north of the airport as a leading candidate. This large-scale, multimodal mobility hub would connect every corner of our county to the airport and provide opportunities for affordable housing and commercial development.
Big ideas are often met with skepticism, but there are examples of success all around us. In Los Angeles, where I spent decades in engineering and transportation planning before coming to SANDAG, there was great doubt in the 1990s that a rail system could be built. Now, there are hundreds of miles of passenger rail connecting people throughout Los Angeles and beyond.
When I reflect on past accomplishments and future ambitions, I often turn to an inspiring quote from President John F. Kennedy: “The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics, whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”
Big ideas are often met with skepticism, but there are examples of success all around us.- Hasan Ikhrata, Executive Director - SANDAG