Advocacy in Action: Standing Up For Transportation

Audrey DeBarros, executive director of Commuting Solutions, advocates for commuter options in the northwest metro region.

Whether we are advocating for transportation funding at the Capitol, convening coalitions to explore new avenues of revenue or working with local stakeholders to bring innovative commuter options to the region, advocating for our community is part of the fabric of Commuting Solutions.

Advocating for Our Partners

At the beginning of this month, Governor Hickenlooper called a special session to address a bill-drafting error with Senate Bill 267 which caused the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to lose roughly $560,000 in revenue each month since the legislation took effect in July 2017. In a demonstration of support for one of our longstanding partners, the Commuting Solutions Board of Directors and US 36 Mayors & Commissioners signed a resolution to encourage state legislators to fix the errors made. While we are disappointed by the outcome of the special session, we’ve been working with coalitions in the region to seek out new funding opportunities to improve the access and economic vitality of the Northwest metro region

Building Transit-Oriented Communities

The US 36 Mayors & Commissioners, Commuting Solutions, Boulder County, Broomfield, City of Boulder, Longmont and Louisville have been hard at work developing an application to compete for federal funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. The proposal our coalition submitted focuses on implementing railroad safety improvements throughout the Northwest corridor to create quiet zones at critical railroad crossings. Communities throughout the region grew up around the railroad tracks, but as the train horn noise levels now reach 96 to 110 decibels due to the Federal Transportation Administration’s (FRA) train horn rule, many residents and businesses find the noise creates unlivable conditions. The current noise levels pose a threat to existing and future transit-oriented development districts.

Rendering of downtown longmont
Rendering of transit-oriented community in Longmont.

The requested TIGER funding will close the gap in funding needed to complete the remaining safety improvements at 28 railroad crossings. The funding and implementation of railroad crossing improvements will help ensure the livability and economic vitality for the northwest corridor for today and the future, and leverage pedestrian and transit investments for years to come. In addition to submitting a proposal for safety improvements at railroad crossings in the region, Commuting Solutions also signed a letter of support for a project submitted by Westminster that would construct a grade separation along the US 36 Bikeway to allow cyclists to safely connect to RTD Park-n-Ride stations near Sheridan Station and 88th Avenue.

Helping Progress Move Forward

Commuting Solutions Executive Director, Audrey DeBarros gives public comment at RTD meeting.

As we explore transportation funding opportunities with our partners to accommodate the implementation of a modal rich environment, we also remain committed to advocating for progress on current initiatives identified through the Northwest Area Mobility Study. Recently, Audrey DeBarros, executive director of Commuting Solutions provided public comments at an RTD meeting pushing for continued support for the SH 119 Bus Rapid Transit project. Recently, the RTD Finance Committee recommended retaining $30 million in the strategic business plan for SH 119, which will go before the Board of Directors for approval on October 24.

From advocating for our community at the state level to submitting a competitive proposal for federal funding, Commuting Solutions is committed to leading the way for innovative solutions to increase the quality of life and economic vitality of the region. If you are interested in engaging in the transportation conversation, join us during our 9th Annual Legislative Breakfast.

Our Summer Vacation: Creating Lasting Community Connections

Palisade peaches, warm weather, and countless biking adventures aren’t the only reason why we love summer at Commuting Solutions! From farmers markets to office picnics to RTD Rider Appreciation – our summer is filled with opportunities to connect with communities throughout the northwest metro region.

With fall right around the corner, we wanted to say farewell to summer by sharing some of our favorite memories from the past few months and give a sneak peek at what is on the horizon for Commuting Solutions!

RTD Rider Appreciation Events

From early mornings to evenings after work, we celebrated all our transit riders that have chosen a stress-free commute through our RTD Rider Appreciation events!

RTD Rider Appreciation events not only help us show our transit riders how much we care, but also provide an opportunity for our bus riders to meet their local RTD representatives and share feedback on their transit trips. So far, we have hosted four RTD Rider Appreciation events, passed out over 2,500 snacks, connected with over 5,000 commuters and have had countless positive conversations.

We aren’t done with RTD Rider Appreciation events! Don’t miss one of our three remaining events at an RTD station near you! Learn more by clicking here.

 

MyRide Distribution Events

In an effort to encourage residents in Louisville and Lafayette to try the bus as a simple step for cleaner air, we joined Boulder County in distributing RTD MyRide cards preloaded with $50 in transit fare. Over the course of five MyRide distribution events, we helped to distribute over 1,500 MyRide cards! The popularity of the program exceeded everyone’s expectations, with hundreds of residents and employee’s attendance at each MyRide distribution event. Due to such high demand of the program, the City of Louisville elected to distribute an additional 200 pre-loaded MyRide cards.

We wanted to say thank you to Boulder County, City of Lafayette and the City of Louisville for providing the $50 MyRide cards and increasing access for residents in Louisville and Lafayette to multimodal transportation options.

While summer may be coming to an end, we still have a handful of events on our calendar! In the coming months, you can spot us at Broomfield Days, Chili Fest and our upcoming Membership meeting. In addition to creating lasting connections in our community, we’ve also been hard at work this summer to keep the momentum going this fall.

Sponsorship

Commuting Solutions is excited to share that we currently have sponsorship opportunities available for 2018! Why should your organization consider a Commuting Solutions Sponsorship?

  • You’ll be recognized as a leader in the transportation conversation and a champion for providing commuter options to the northwest metro region
  • Our sponsors receive premium brand exposure at all of our 2018 Signature events – allowing them to reach a larger audience
  • Gain exclusive access to industry experts, elected officials and local thought leaders

To learn more about our Sponsorship opportunities click here.

Quarterly Membership Meeting

Join us on September 12 from 7:15 – 9:00 AM at the 1st BANK Center for our upcoming Membership Meeting. Transportation experts and business leaders will share an inside look at what the future holds for transportation in the northwest metro region.

Our quarterly Membership Meetings, in partnership with the Northwest Chamber Alliance, provide a unique opportunity for stakeholders from across the northwest metro region to connect and learn more about initiatives that will continue to increase the economic vitality and commute options of our region.

Membership Meetings are complimentary for members of Commuting Solutions and the Northwest Chamber Alliance. Save your seat today by clicking here.

Thank you to our community members, partners, and commuters that made this summer one for the books! Keep an eye out for us this fall at community events and stay tuned for information on about exciting new programs that are underway.

Commuting Solutions is Hiring a Fall Intern!

Marketing and Community Outreach Intern

About Commuting Solutions:

Commuting Solutions is dedicated to delivering innovative transportation options that connect commuters to their workplaces, businesses to their employees, and residents to their communities. Through advocacy for infrastructure and transportation improvements, partnerships and education, we create progressive, flexible transportation solutions.

Position Description:

Commuting Solutions is seeking an undergraduate student, graduate student, or entry-level professional preparing for a career in marketing, community outreach or transportation management to join our team as a fall intern. The ideal candidate will be asked to work 10-12 hours per week, with the exact schedule to be mutually decided upon.

The primary goal of the Commuting Solutions internship is to provide the individual with experience in day-to-day marketing and outreach activities and to assist with specific projects aimed to increase awareness of Commuting Solutions.

This is an outstanding entry level opportunity for candidates looking to enter the marketing, TDM or transportation sector. Compensation is $10 per hour, in addition to class credit.

 Areas of Responsibility

Social Media

  • Draft engaging and compelling social media content for Commuting Solutions’ Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages
  • Schedule approved social media content
  • Assist Marketing Coordinator with ad hoc social media posts
  • Assist with developing social media graphics

Content Creation

  • Assist with drafting content for monthly and quarterly newsletters
  • Assist with developing blog content
  • Draft press releases, media alerts, and editorial content
  • Assist with developing additional marketing materials, as needed
  • Maintain databases in Constant Contact

Event Marketing

  • Assist marketing coordinator in implementing event marketing campaigns
  • Work with marketing coordinator to develop new ideas to increase attendance and awareness of Commuting Solutions’ signature events

Outreach

  • Represent Commuting Solutions at public events in the community
  • Organize exhibitor materials and supplies.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Excellent organizational, verbal and writing skills
  • Knowledge of AP Style preferred
  • Advanced writing skills
  • Reliable, dependable, flexible and responsive
  • Strong computer skills required
  • Proficiency using MS Office Suite
  • Must possess excellent customer service skills
  • Ability and desire to work independently and as a part of a team
  • Ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks
  • Ability to work outside normal business hours, as needed
  • Strong interpersonal skills, good judgment and ability to communicate professionally with diverse audiences
  • Knowledge of Adobe Create Suites a plus

Please submit cover letter, resume, and a writing sample by Friday, August 11 to Taylor Broderick, marketing coordinator at taylor@commutingsolutions.org.

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary to CDOT’s US 36 Express Lanes Project

This time last year, we were celebrating the completion of CDOT’s US 36 Express Lanes Project, one of the largest construction projects in Colorado! This summer, we are pleased to share that the efforts and patience of the traveling public during construction has paid off. A model for the nation, the US 36 Express Lanes Project took an innovative approach to traffic congestion along US 36 and incorporates multimodal transportation that increases commuter options, in addition to an innovative financing mechanism through CDOT’s first Public-Private Partnership (P3). CDOT’s US 36 Express Lanes Project gives travelers in the northwest metro region a choice to zip past traffic in the US Express Lanes, Bus Rapid Transit services or along the US 36 Bikeway for today and into the future.

We are proud to share that RTD’s Flatiron Flyer has played a critical role in increasing bus ridership. With stations serviced every 15 minutes and the regional bus route transporting 14,500 riders every day, it is no surprise that ridership is up by nearly 50 percent. While the Flatiron Flyer is transporting a record number of commuters every day, the US 36 Express Lanes are playing a critical role in keeping people moving, whether on the bus or in a car. Since the opening of the US 36 Express Lanes, CDOT has seen lane speeds increase on certain days by as much as 29 percent faster than ever before! Not only are a record number of commuters reaching their final destinations, but they are getting there quicker. In addition to RTD Flatiron Flyer and US 36 Express Lanes ridership growth, the cycling community along the US 36 Bikeway is rapidly expanding! Since the Bikeway has opened, 175,707 cyclists and pedestrians have traveled along the bikeway to make an important transit connection and connect to new communities in our region.

While commuters and residents in the northwest metro region travel easily to their destinations, our work to increase mobility and connect the communities in our region is not over yet! We are continuing to work closely with our partners to find the sweet spot between transportation options, public-private partnerships, and technology.

An example of the intersect between transit and technology is the emergence of real-time transit apps. In three simple steps, commuters in our region can download Transit on their Apple or Android device to receive real-time transit updates, compare commute options and locate bike shelters and bike share stations nearby. To learn more about Transit please visit the Boulder County website.

At Commuting Solutions, we are proud of the innovation and collaboration that continues to propel our region into the future. We want to say thank you to our partners who played a critical role in CDOT’s US 36 Express Lanes Project and continue to advance multimodal transportation in our community. Without Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT); Denver Regional Councils of Governments (DRCOG); High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE); Plenary Roads Denver and the Regional Transportation District (RTD), we would not be able to continue to bring commuter options to the northwest metro region. In the coming months, we hope to see the implementation of a regional bike share program, consistent wayfinding signage installed throughout the region and increased ridership of our transit services.

RTD Rider Appreciation

 

Commuting Solutions and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) are teaming up to express their gratitude to transit riders in the northwest metro region by hosting a series of rider appreciation events at stations along the corridor. These events are an opportunity for commuters to meet with RTD directors and staff and Commuting Solutions representatives, learn more about RTD services and routes, and share feedback.

Mark your calendar for our upcoming RTD Rider Appreciation events!

Date Station Time
July 13 US 36 & Flatiron Station (398 East Flatiron Cir., Broomfield) 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
July 19 US 36 & Table Mesa Station (5170 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder) 7:00 – 8:30 a.m.
July 25 US 36 & Church Ranch Station (10452 Town Center Drive, Westminster) 7:00 – 8:30 a.m.
Aug. 3 US 36 & Broomfield Station (8010 Transit Way) 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Sept. 5 US 36 & Sheridan Station (5025 West 88th Pl., Westminster) 7:00 – 8:30 a.m.
Sept. 14 US 36 & McCaslin Station (7931 Marshall Rd., Superior) 7:00 – 8:30 a.m.
Sept. 26 US 36 & Westminster Station (6995 Grove Street, Westminster) 7:00 – 8:30 a.m.

The Future of Transportation Funding in the Northwest Region

Congested Roads

The conversation surrounding sustainable transportation funding has transcended beyond the walls of the Capitol. In the last days of the 2017 legislative session, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 17-267 (SB17-267), commonly known as the Hospital Provider Fee bill. On May 30, Governor Hickenlooper signed SB17-267 into law.

Senate Bill 17-267 is a sweeping measure that focuses on three aspects of state government: health care, taxes, and transportation. SB 17-267 authorizes the execution of lease agreements on state facilities beginning in the fall of 2018-2019. Currently, it is anticipated that SB17-267 will generate about $1.8 billion for transportation funding. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will allocate these funds to projects across the state that are on the Tier One project list, with ten percent dedicated for transit projects. While many projects are being considered, Commuting Solutions does not anticipate that this funding will meet the needs of the northwest metro region today nor is it a reliable funding source for the future.

As stated by Tony Milo, executive director of Colorado Contractors Association “SB17-267 is a great down payment on a bigger problem.” Currently, sustainable transportation advocates are working together to ensure that a policy put in front of voters makes sense for the state of Colorado and addresses our multimodal transportation needs. While residents in the northwest metro region most likely will not see a ballot measure this November, there is a possibility for an initiated measure to be on the 2018 ballot.

Commuting Solutions would like to thank our legislators who tirelessly advocated for sustainable transportation funding for our region. Moving forward, we will be working closely with public and private sector stakeholders to continue to create solutions that increase commuter options and connectivity in the northwest metro region.

Commuting Solutions Inspires Positive Commuter Behavior Change

When the largest construction project in Colorado commenced, Commuting Solutions, a local nonprofit and Transportation Management Organization (TMO) for the US 36 corridor, implemented a program that would ease commuter frustration along US 36 during and after the US 36 Express Lanes construction project by reducing solo driving along the US 36 corridor. In Sept. 2012, the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program kicked off with the goal of increasing multimodal transportation usage through providing education, resources, and incentives for workers in the US 36 corridor.

“The US 36 Congestion Mitigation program is the largest behavior change program Commuting Solutions has ever implemented,” said Audrey DeBarros, executive director of Commuting Solutions. “We expected the program to be successful, but what we didn’t anticipate was the overwhelmingly positive response and sustained commute behavior changes.”

Over the course of two years, the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program allowed workers in the US 36 corridor to apply for free or reduced public transportation options. This included services such as vanpooling, carpooling, Eco Passes, and 10-ride ticket books. When the program began, Commuting Solutions anticipated about 2,015 program participants. By the conclusion of the study 2,637 commuters learned about and received incentives for various commuter options.

“The US 36 Express Lanes allow travelers to choose how they want to get around: bus rapid transit, carpool, solo driving for free or by paying a toll or biking. The Congestion Mitigation program was able to educate and help people try these choices,” said David Spector, Colorado High Performance Transportation Enterprise Director. “Providing commuting options and incentives during large construction projects helps travelers deal with construction impacts, and prepares them to take advantage of the new mobility choices after construction.”

The response to the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program created a ripple effect throughout the northwest metro region. In two years, daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduced by over 12,500 miles per a day and over three million miles over the course of the year. This is the equivalent of 120 times around earth or 13 trips to the moon.

Not only were vehicle miles traveled significantly reduced due to the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program, but commuters also reported a significant behavior change. The US 36 Congestion Mitigation Program resulted in a 15 percent decrease in drive-alone rate and a 64 percent increase in transit usage.

“When the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program began, we hoped that it would introduce commuters to transportation options other than driving alone,” said Steve Erickson, DRCOG director of communications and marketing. “The sustained behavior changes among commuters is really impressive, and people are clearly seeing the benefits of smarter commute choices.”

The US 36 Congestion Mitigation program concluded in March 2017. The program not only increased awareness about public transportation and commuter options but played a critical role in alleviating traffic congestion during and after the US 36 Express Lanes project. For additional information about the Congestion Mitigation program and alternative transportation options, please visit www.commutingsolutions.org.