Building Vibrant Transportation Networks

Ken Hotard is a forty-five-year resident of Boulder, Colorado. He has served as the Government Affairs Director and Senior Vice President for Public Affairs of the Boulder Area Realtor® Association since 1984. Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board of Directors from 1991 – 1994. RTD Board Chairman 1993 and 1994. Co-founder and board member of Better Boulder and Boulder Tomorrow. Past Chairman and current Treasurer of Commuting Solutions. Member of the Boulder Chamber’s Community Affairs Council for 18 years, now a fifth term Co-Chair.

 

Transportation is crucial to the prosperity of businesses, real estate and our region. For communities to be a hub of vibrant economic activity they must be connected by complex networks of communication and transportation, infrastructure and services. When these networks operate effectively communities can evolve and prosper. When they do not, economic health and community well-being can be difficult and uncertain.

Nearly all community activities involve some form of travel—by car, foot, bicycle, bus, or train. Time spent in travel is often time away from meaningful work or time with friends and family. So, efficient transportation is fundamental to the quality of life. A higher quality of life will attract and retain workforce talent and home buyers.

Whether you are a business leader or real estate professional, we all have a dog in this fight. Well-designed transportation infrastructure and services improve air quality, bring affordable housing closer to job opportunities, and expand access to key employment centers. Transportation infrastructure and services are a constructive force in building quality communities. It all comes down to choices.

As a Commuting Solutions board member and local business leader, I am encouraging everyone to learn more about Transportation Matters, a region-wide initiative designed to spark critical conversations surrounding the transportation funding gap and provide feedback on the mobility needs of businesses in the northwest metro region.

Because transportation is crucial to businesses and real estate, when key decisions are being made in our communities it is vital that business leaders and real estate professionals are participants. I believe that when it comes to our communities’ quality of life, these issues are too important to sit on the sidelines.  Transportation Matters is your invitation to get in the conversation, take action and shape the future of the communities where you work, live, play and build your dreams.

 

Advocacy Update: 2018 Legislative Session

The 2018 Legislative Session began with the potential of new federal money, discussions regarding allocations of transportation funds included in SB17-267 and continued dialogue surrounding a draft project list and a potential statewide ballot measure. Last month, we shared our efforts with the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition to advocate for multi-modal investments in the northwest metro region. The regional and statewide transportation conversation is evolving and maturing every day! At Commuting Solutions, we closely watch every transportation related piece of legislation and wanted to provide an update on a handful of initiatives that we’ve been tracking:

Senate Bill 001 (SB18-001) Transportation Infrastructure Funding

SB18-001 would ask the voters to authorize the issuance of $3.5 billion in transportation revenue anticipation notes (TRANs), and repeal Senate Bill17-267 which has begun to raise up to $1.88 billion for state transportation projects. It would repay the bonds by allocating 10% of state sales and use tax net revenue for that purpose.

Currently, the bill has passed the Senate Transportation Committee and has since been referred too the Senate Finance Committee for review.

House Bill 1119 (HB18-1119) Highway Building and Maintenance Funding

HB18- 1119 requires the transportation commission to submit a ballot question to the voters November 2018 which, if approved, will require the CDOT Executive Director to issue transportation revenue anticipation notes (TRANs) in a maximum principal amount of $3.5 billion; repeals SB-267.

Currently the bill has been introduced and is assigned to the Transportation & Energy Committee. The bill is awaiting it’s first committee hearing.

Potential Statewide Ballot Measure

In addition to following legislation, we are also closely participating in the conversation for a potential statewide ballot measure. Currently, CDOT has prepared a draft statewide project list for which we are actively engaged to request equitable inclusion of projects benefiting the northwest metro region.  We anticipate three ballot titles will be submitted on February 20th to allow flexibility while additional polling is conducted.

Federal Infrastructure Plan

As part of President Trump’s State of the Union address, infrastructure was included as a high priority for the White House in his second year. An initial review of the official proposal released earlier this week notices a shift to the funding principles that encourage state, local and private investment by providing incentives for limited federal grants. The proposal would also streamline the environmental review and federal oversight. While Commuting Solutions is still learning more about the plan, we are committed to exploring how the plan will impact the northwest metro region.

Next Steps

As always, Commuting Solutions is actively engaged in advocating for the multi-modal needs of the northwest metro region. If you are interested in engaging in the transportation momentum or additional policy updates, please register for our March 13 Membership Meeting at the 1st BANK Center!

Our Letter to CDOT

We are writing on behalf of Commuting Solutions, a 501(c)3 nonprofit
organization whose mission is to enhance the mobility of commuters in the
northwest metro region today and for the future. Members of Commuting
Solutions include the local governments of Boulder, Boulder County, Longmont,
Superior, Louisville, Lafayette, Broomfield, Westminster and 85 private sector
businesses, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations.

To read our full letter, click here.

CDOT Project List Letter

Transportation Conversations Kick-Off 2018 Legislative Session

“Getting to and from work shouldn’t be the hardest part of Coloradans’ daily routine. We have to repair and improve our overburdened roads and expand our transportation options to keep up with our growing population and economy,”

-Rep. Crisanta Duran, Speaker of the House

 

Rep. KC Becker addresses attendees of the 9th Legislative Breakfast.

At Commuting Solutions, the beginning of the new year also marks new opportunities to advocate for transportation funding in the northwest metro region. Prior to the start of the 2018 Legislative Session, we hosted our 9th Legislative Breakfast where attendees heard first hand from House Majority Leader, Rep. KC Becker as well as House and Senate Committee leadership regarding potential legislation to address the significant statewide funding gap.

The 2018 Legislative Session began with the potential of new federal money, discussions regarding allocations of transportation funds included in SB17-267 and continued dialogue surrounding a draft project list and potential statewide ballot measure.

Convening Leaders

Just one week after the 2018 Legislative Session kicked off, Commuting Solutions and the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition spent the morning at the Capitol meeting with state legislators and advocating for the transportation needs of the northwest metro region. The meetings produced a thoughtful dialogue surrounding the implications of Senate Bill18-001, a bill introduced that would ask the voters to authorize the issuance of $3.5 billion in transportation revenue anticipation notes (TRANs), and repeal Senate Bill17-267 which has begun to raise up to $1.88 billion for state transportation projects. It would repay the bonds by allocating 10% of state sales and use tax net revenue for that purpose. While we are still learning more about SB18-001, Commuting Solutions is skeptical because in repealing SB18-267 it would prevent the generation of new multimodal revenue that our region stands to benefit from and instead rely on existing state revenue to repay long-term borrowing which the voters may not approve and which may be necessary for other state priorities. Moreover, it would convey a false message that there is not a need for new revenue to solve our transportation needs.

Advocating for the Northwest Metro Region

On the same day that the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition (MCC) met with state legislators in the morning, representatives from Commuting Solutions and the MCC spent the afternoon at CDOT’s Transportation Commission Workshop that discussed the approach for statewide programs and reviewed amended project lists as part of preparation for a potential statewide ballot measure or other new funding sources in 2018. During the meeting, both Commuting Solutions staff and US 36 MCC Representatives provided public comment advocating for projects included in the Northwest Area Mobility Study (NAMS) to remain on the draft project list.

Engage in the Conversation

We are closely following and actively participating in conversations surrounding a potential ballot measure, new funding sources and legislation that could impact the northwest metro region. Whether you work, live or play in the northwest metro region, we encourage everyone to stay engaged in the 2018 transportation momentum. Throughout the legislative session, we are committed to sharing important advocacy alerts, bringing new stakeholders to the table and highlighting easy ways you can advocate for progress in our region.

In the words of Speaker of the House, Rep. Crisanta Duran “Let me be clear: transportation funding is a priority.”

 

Commuting Solutions is Hiring!

Commuting Solutions is seeking an entry-level professional preparing for a career in marketing, community outreach, planning or transportation demand management to join our team!

Position Description:

Commuting Solutions is seeking an entry-level professional preparing for a career in marketing, community outreach, planning, or transportation demand management to join our team as the Marketing & Outreach Assistant. This is a full-time position that reports to the Executive Director. This is an outstanding opportunity for candidates looking for hands-on experience with marketing communications, program management, public policy and Transportation Demand Management.

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
Implement and track success of social media strategy

Content Creation
Draft content for monthly and quarterly newsletters
Develop blog content
Develop press releases, media alerts and editorial content
Assist with developing additional marketing materials, as needed
Maintain databases

Event Marketing
Assist marketing specialist to implement event marketing campaign
Work with Marketing Communications Specialist to develop new ideas to increase attendance and awareness of Commuting Solutions’ signature events

Outreach
Represent Commuting Solutions at public and employer events in the community
Organize exhibitor materials and supplies
Support the outreach and programs specialist with program materials (e.g. collecting data, creating surveys)
Create commute options content for employers
Assist with customer service for RTD Bike-n-Ride shelters

Administration
Maintains the organization’s employer database, My Way to Go administration
Complete grant reporting and employer outreach tracking reports
Assist the Executive Director, as needed


Job Qualifications

Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Communications, Journalism or a related field
Excellent organizational, verbal and writing skills
Knowledge of AP Style preferred
Reliable, dependable, flexible and responsive
Knowledge of marketing communications strategies
MS Office Suite proficient
Possess excellent customer service skills
Ability and desire to work independently and as part of a team
Ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks
Strong interpersonal skills, good judgment and ability to communicate professionally with diverse audiences
Knowledge of Adobe Create Suites a plus
Position responsibilities could change based upon organizational needs
Available to staff occasional early morning/evening meetings, weekend events, etc.
Must have a valid driver’s license and access to a vehicle for business use (mileage is reimbursed).

Please submit cover letter, salary history, salary requirements, resume and a writing sample to audrey@commutingsolutions.org by February 16, 2018.

Happy Holidays From Commuting Solutions

From the lights in downtown to decorations in our own office, it is hard to resist the holiday spirit in the northwest metro region. At Commuting Solutions, not only do we embrace the festivities of the season, it is also a time for reflection and gratitude. In honor of the holiday season, we wanted to share our gratitude.

Thank you, Commuters!

At Commuting Solutions, we believe that every ride counts. Whether you chose to ride the bus every day or participate in Bike to Work Day every summer, we wanted to say thank you! Your decision to choose a sustainable commute option plays a critical role in reducing traffic congestion and increasing air quality throughout the northwest metro region.

Thank you, Partners!

The innovation and progress to increase commuter options in the region would not be possible without the support, passion and dedication of our partners. Thank you to the organizations that have played a critical role in helping to set the pace for the region. We look forward to our continued partnership for years to come.

Thank you, US 36 Mayors & Commissioners and Board of Directors!

Our gratitude would not be complete without thanking the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition as well as the Commuting Solutions Board of Directors for lighting the way this year. Your leadership is a key ingredient to our advocacy efforts to advance multi-modal transportation investments in the region.

While we are grateful for the progress of 2017, we would be remiss to not share our excitement for 2018. Over the past few months, we’ve been working closely with our partners to bring additional commuter options to the northwest metro region, increase the connectivity of our community and expand our coalition to include more advocates for sustainable transportation.

We’ll be kicking off the new year with a bang and unveiling a new initiative at our 9th Legislative Breakfast on January 9th at the Lionsgate Event Center, Lafayette. Network with elected officials, the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition, transportation partners and business leaders during a morning of advocacy prior to the start of the 2018 state legislative session.

We wish everyone happy holidays and leave you with our suggested New Years’ resolution: In 2018, engage in the transportation momentum for the northwest metro region.

 

Picture Credit: Downtown Louisville, Colorado

Connecting Communities: Northwest Rail Progress Update

Whether we are at a community event or town halls, one of the most frequent questions we are asked is surrounding FasTracks and the completion of the Northwest Rail service. From when construction will begin, service offerings and station locations, the Northwest Rail remains on the minds of residents and employees throughout the northwest metro region.

For over the past year, Commuting Solutions has been working closely with the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to evaluate service possibilities for the remaining 38 miles between Westminster and Longmont.  RTD still does not have the fiscal resources to prioritize completion of Northwest Rail for quite some time as defined in its full buildout; however, our local elected officials asked RTD to explore the ridership and costs to construct and operate peak hour service only, as a means of beginning the service with a much simpler implementation plan.

Evaluating Our Options

FasTracks Progress Map

After careful review and consideration of three implementation options, coordination with RTD and local elected officials, we support continued evaluation of an option that would provide three trips from Longmont to Denver in the morning and three trips from Denver to Longmont in the evening. The service would include seven station locations throughout the region including: Boulder, Louisville, Broomfield, Westminster, and Longmont. Current models estimate that this trip would take roughly 67 minutes of travel time one way from Longmont to Denver, and have an average weekday ridership of 1,400 additional passengers.

Commuting Solutions and the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition are interested to explore this option to potentially enable initial commuter rail access sooner rather than later, pending funding availability.

 

Keeping Progress Moving

Earlier this month, the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition and Commuting Solutions shared a letter of support for RTD to continue the evaluation of this peak service alternative. We also urged RTD to continue conversations with our local government partners and if necessary, request that BNSF provide an estimate of the potential cost to implement Northwest Rail peak hour service on its rail line.

At Commuting Solutions, we know from experience that transportation projects of this scale are transformative and deserve special scrutiny in this time of limited resources.  We want to reassure community members that we are working closely with our partners to keep progress moving forward for RTD FasTracks completion.

Advocacy in Action: Standing Up For Transportation

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.

The Fight for Transportation Funding for the Northwest Region

 

At Commuting Solutions, we are proud to be a part of a community that cares for our environment, makes conscious efforts to improve the air quality for all and frequently takes advantage of multimodal commute options. Not only is the northwest metro region a leader in transportation initiatives in the state, but also the nation. This summer, we shared the success of CDOT’s US 36 Express Lanes Project and continue to celebrate the record number of cyclists who use the US 36 Bikeway, commuters who have found a stress-free commute on the Flatiron Flyer and drivers who have enjoyed faster commute times due to the US 36 Express Lanes and a record number of riders are traveling by rail on the B Line. While these multi-modal projects have been a smashing success, significant regional transportation funding needs remain.

RTD Representative shares insights into RTD’s strategic business plan.

One of the hardest questions we are frequently asked is surrounding the unfulfilled promise of RTD FasTracks’ Northwest Rail and the Northwest Area Mobility Study’s arterial Bus Rapid Transit funding. Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting Heather McKillop, RTD Chief Financial Officer at our September Membership Meeting. To put things bluntly, there simply is not enough funding for the needs of our community, nor will there be for many years. During McKillop’s presentation, she shared that currently the FasTracks Internal Savings Accounts will be depleted by 2023 and there is no funding available to replenish the account for our region. In addition to a lack of available monetary resources, the projects face additional roadblocks:

Construction and operation of currently unfunded corridors
Completion of on-going projects
Sales and use tax volatility
Financing capacity and funding constraints

While the prognosis for funding is dim, Commuting Solutions will continue to fight for transportation investments in the northwest metro region, advocate for projects agreed upon and supported by RTD in the Northwest Area Mobility Study and investigate new sources of funding to help meet the needs of our growing communities.

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.