Had a chance to visit three cities in Texas in eight days, so my observations in all probability be superficial but nevertheless it's useful to highlight some of the things I observed.
Design of cities - in all the three cities - Austin, Houston and Dallas - the broad design of city is a concentrated downtown where all official and commercial establishment are located and residential places are spread out miles apart. The suburbs are connected via wide road networks that transport people mainly via car, usually just one occupant. Austin is trying to develop residential accommodation in downtown though. This is accompanied by near complete lack of public transport.
For example I was staying at my friend's place in a Houston suburb, and I had to travel 5.9 miles to catch the only available bus from that place to downtown. Though people talked about traffic jam but I generally found that travel time is less than a minute a mile. My friend in Dallas picked me from Dallas downtown to his house in 35 minutes and the distance travelled was 29 miles if I am not wrong.
In contrast it takes not less than 45 minutes to travel 24 kilometers from my flat in Delhi to Gurgaon. Often it takes more than an hour. A huge productivity loss. Imagine developing an efficient public transport system (end-to-end) so that people could travel a kilometer in less than a minute. I could save at least 60 minutes if i am commuting from Delhi and Gurgaon on a daily basis. And if million trips are made in the National capital region (NCR) then it's half million hours of time saved each day or increase in productivity. This would result in higher output, and more importantly make transport more accessible to all people.
Only by making investments in developing infrastructure that will increase productivity of people, a long lasting impact on growth of the economy can be achieved. Of course, the best option is to have houses right next to commercial establishment.