Commuter to Watch: Tyler Beam

Tyler joined an existing vanpool because it was easy and it helps him save money on his commute from Denver to Broomfield. If he needs to stay late or leave early from work, he has flexible options both ways. So what’s it like for him to cruise with his van mates in the US 36 Express Lane? “You know that feeling you get when you put socks on that just came out of the dryer? It’s like that.” Tyler invites you to van up and get that same warm and fuzzy feeling.

Prioritizing 2017 as the Year for Transportation

Governor Hickenlooper delivers keynote address at 8th Legislative Breakfast

As Governor Hickenlooper stated at the 8th Legislative Breakfast, transportation is an economic driver. It determines the movement of our state’s goods and the movement of people to tourist destinations and employment centers.

Funding for this vital aspect of our state’s economy is at an all-time low and is a key focus for elected officials entering the 2017 legislative session. And it is not just elected officials who are focused on transportation funding, the private sector is raising their collective voice in support of developing new mechanisms for transportation funding. Accessibility (meaning an effective multi-modal system and roads that are well maintained) ensures that new businesses invest in Colorado and that our workforce remains strong.

Colorado is a growing state, but maintains a healthy competition against our neighbor to the west—Utah. Compared to Colorado, Utah has half of the population, more than 700 miles of lanes and similar outdoor offerings. Without an effective transportation system that is well maintained, Colorado could face losing revenue as young entrepreneurs look to Utah (currently Colorado has a $9 billion transportation funding deficit). Both elected officials and private-sector leaders understand that to keep Colorado competitive transportation needs to come first—the question is, where does the money come from?

Building a sustainable, reliable multi-modal system is a priority for our state’s elected officials and so is developing a stable funding mechanism. At the 8th Legislative Breakfast, Senator John Cooke presented two possibilities for increasing transportation funding: an increased gas tax or a sales tax. To ensure that sales tax is applied to transportation, safeguards would need to be in place and the public would need to be involved in the conversation. As Representative Diane Mitsch Bush noted, the public needs to understand issues as well as the legislators working on them. For transportation funding to go into effect, the public needs to understand the significance of transportation and the investment that their tax dollars make.

Learn more about the policies Commuting Solutions and the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition support, and stay in touch with Commuting Solutions as we prioritize 2017 as the year for transportation!

Commuting Solutions is a shining example of multi-modal success, showing clearly how we can reduce congestion , improve economic opportunity for all, protect and improve our environment, and help make our communities more resilient.  – Representative Diane Mitsch Bush

Commuter to Watch: Brandon Smith


Brandon chose where he lives today, the Harvest Station Apartments in Broomfield, specifically for its proximity to the bus. “I’m a bus man all the way, and have been since I moved here from Chicago in 2012.” Brandon listens to Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, reads and surfs his phone during his rides.  He once met a Swedish Au Pair on a bus trip to Boulder whose favorite show as a kid also took place in Chicago – Biker Mice from Mars. Adds Brandon, “You can’t make this stuff up!”

2016: A Year of Accomplishments and Progress

Cyclists celebrating the opening of the US 36 Bikeway from Louisville/Superior to Boulder.
Cyclists celebrating the opening of the US 36 Bikeway from Louisville/Superior to Boulder.

When Commuting Solutions was formed in 1998, our first effort was to assemble the public and private sectors around transforming the US 36 corridor into an epicenter for business, life and recreation. Our role as a convener involved building consensus with multiple stakeholders and businesses and developing an effective transportation plan to meet our region’s needs. That initial project (later to be known as the US 36 Express Lanes Project) came to near completion in 2016 and marks a significant milestone for our organization.

Progress, such as the first segment of rail to Westminster, was abundant this year and demonstrates what we, as a region, can achieve when we band together. Looking back, here are our top five accomplishments of 2016:

  1. The Near Completion of the US 36 Express Lanes Project. The 18-mile US 36 Bikeway was completed, Flatiron Flyer Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service launched and the US 36 Express Lanes opened.
  1. The B Line to Westminster. The first segment of commuter rail in the Northwest corridor opened on July 25 and sees over 1,400 riders each day (800 more riders per day than originally projected!).
  1. Bus Rapid Transit on Highways 119 and 7. Highway 119 and Highway 7 were identified in the Northwest Mobility Study (NAMS) as being prime corridors for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service. This year, studies to assess the feasibility of establishing BRT service on both highways moved forward.
  1. Inspiring Commute Behavior Change. We launched (and continued) a number of programs aimed at inspiring commuters to change the way they travel. Our efforts resulted in providing incentives to over 190 solo drivers who opted to car/vanpool or take transit, motivating 65 individuals to try biking, hosting six community bike rides and providing over 700 employees with RTD Master EcoPasses for the second year in a row.
  1. First-and-Final Mile Improvements. This year we initiated work on the Northwest Corridor Wayfinding Design and Implementation Plan, opened discussions on a regional bike share program, and secured funding for five of the twelve planned Bike-n-Ride shelters.

This is just a glimpse into the progress we made this year and highlights the most impactful projects of 2016. Stay tuned for our 2016 annual review, which will include a comprehensive overview of our regional impact and progress.

Stay in the know by signing up for Commuting Solutions monthly newsletter.

Commuter to watch: Martha Brown


Once or twice a week, Martha commutes to Boulder from Arvada by carpooling with a neighbor and co-worker. With access to the Express Lane, her carpool can bypass traffic, saving about 30 minutes each way. Adds Martha, “A few weeks ago there were a lot of accidents on the road and traffic was horrendous. It was really great to be able to bypass it all and still get to work on time!” Martha invites you to become a fellow carpooling co-worker hero.

Bridging Colorado’s Transportation Funding Gap

Did you know that Colorado’s state gas tax has not been raised in 25 years and that a crucial $100 million could be cut from the state’s 2017 transportation budget? While it may seem as though our state is flourishing, and it is in many areas, there are serious decreases in our state’s main transportation funding source (the gas tax) and our ability to comprehensively fund transportation.  With insolvency of the federally operated Highway Trust Fund projected for 2021, Colorado is not the only state looking to new funding sources as a way to maintain and expand transportation growth. (According to Colorado 2040 Statewide Transportation Plan,  the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund will result in a $1B annual funding gap for the state over the next 25 years.)

Colorado’s population and vehicle miles traveled will nearly double by 2040, which means the strain on our transportation system and the need for expansion will also increase. Much of the state’s transportation funding comes from a gas tax, but more fuel-efficient vehicles, a reduction in driving and a 25-year-old gas tax are contributing to significant funding shortfalls. Looking ahead, it is imperative that state officials implement a long-term funding solution to secure our transportation future.


In Utah, we see that a minute sales tax and recently adjusted gas tax make a significant contribution to a state’s annual transportation budget. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Utah has a comparable DOT budget ($1.3B to Colorado’s $1.4B), but has 2 million fewer residents and around 8,000 fewer miles of road to maintain. While Utah has achieved their own success, Colorado must look at creative funding mechanisms and the possibility of an increased gas tax to bridge our funding gap.


In lieu of a permanent and sustainable funding source, Colorado has embraced public-private partnerships (P3s) to ensure that infrastructure is built, while recognizing that additional funding will be needed for future maintenance, transit, bicycling and congestion management. CDOT’s move to High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) 3 on Express Lanes is another way our transportation department is looking to generate revenue while maintaining clear roads for transit, carpools and individuals who choose to pay a toll. CDOT is also launching the Road Usage Charge Pilot Program, a pilot program that will assess charges based on vehicle miles traveled and could one day replace the gas tax. Along with an increased gas tax, new sources of revenue are needed to meet anticipated demands and address the state’s face-paced growth.

As part of Commuting Solutions’ ongoing commitment to enhance the economic vitality of the Northwest region, we will represent the private sector in our 2017 legislative agenda and provide opportunities for the public and private sectors to engage with one another. Our 8th Legislative Breakfast will be held on Thursday, January 5 and will provide employers, governments and residents with an opportunity to engage with one another and set the tone for making regional progress in 2017.

Carpool Buddies Wanted.


Are you driving solo during your daily commute and watching in envy as carpoolers cruise by in the US 36 Express Lanes?

Sure, you’ve considered carpooling–it  saves time, money and you can enjoy being a passenger every once in a while. But where do you start? Commuting Solutions is your trusted transportation resource, and we’ve helped hundreds of local employees find their carpool matches.

With the HOV (that’s High Occupancy Vehicle) rules changing on January 1, 2017, current twosome carpoolers will soon be searching for another buddy. The new HOV 3 rules mean that in order to travel for free in the US 36 Express Lanes, there must be at least three passengers in the vehicle.

Whether you’re looking to make your carpool a threesome or you want to just get started, here are a few ways other carpoolers have found their match:

1. Recruit from your network
This may be obvious, but you’d be surprised at who you’ll meet by just putting the word out there. Let your co-workers and friends know you’re looking for a carpool buddy – email or post within your company, post on Facebook, LinkedIn or Nextdoor.

2. Register your trip on can help you find registered users who are either part of an existing pool or are looking for a buddy. When you register on, you become part of a regional database with over 10,000 users. To post your interest in carpooling, enter your starting location, ending location and the details for when you would want to meet. The site will then show you existing carpools and potential carpool buddies you can contact. And, when you “favorite” your trip, others searching for a buddy can find you.

And, better yet, from now until the end of January 2017, Commuting Solutions is offering cash incentives for new carpools. Yes, you can earn up to $75 just for carpooling! Incentives are also available for vanpooling and transit. To receive your incentive, fill out this short application and track eight carpool trips using

Short of hitchhiking, there are many ways to find a buddy or three and make for a more enjoyable commute. The more solo drivers we can get into carpools, the less congestion we’ll have on our highway, and that’s good for us and our environment.

Still need help? Feel free to drop us a line at

Happy Travels!

Commuter to watch: Pietro Simonetti


Pietro lives in Westminster and commutes to Superior, riding the US 36 Bikeway three to four times a week. When the cars on US 36 are backed up and he’s going faster than all of them, you can bet he’s got an ear-to-ear, bugs-on-teeth grin as he pedals ferociously. Adds Pietro, “There’s nothing better than riding to work on a crisp day with the sun over the horizon and the white mountains in the distance. Everyone should join in!”

The Movement of People, Not Vehicles

When you look at moving 200 people by five different modes (here), you see that 133 vehicles with 1.5 riders simply cannot travel with the same efficiency as other modes. Moving as a Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) is increasingly becoming less and less efficient, yet persists as the norm in transportation. Even in cities where transportation budgets allow for massive widening projects, we’re seeing that adding more lanes actually creates more traffic congestion (see Houston’s Katy Project here and more on induced demand here).

hov-3Contemporary transportation policies, such as the move from High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) 2 to HOV 3, are curbing the number of vehicles on the road by focusing on the movement of people and maximizing use of existing infrastructure. By implementing these policies, transportation demand is improved in the short-term and so is how a region will accommodate travel demand over the coming decades.

CDOT’s decision to move from HOV 2 to HOV 3 (effective January 1, 2017) is a smart change, but that does not mean it is met with wide public approval. It is a divisive move and one that leaves many who travel the corridor wondering what the fallout will be.

Those who currently travel in the US 36 Express Lanes in a carpool with three or more riders or on transit will most likely not be impacted by these changes, but others will. Carpools with two riders will need to find a third buddy to continue riding in the Express Lanes for free, while those who drive solo and in the general purpose lanes will be the most impacted by these changes (there will likely be influx of vehicles moving away from the Express Lanes, thus causing more congestion in the general purpose lanes).

As your local resource, Commuting Solutions is here to help you make a smooth transition into HOV 3. Through the end of January, we are offering US 36 commuters a $75 incentive to car/vanpool or a free RTD 10-ride ticket book to try the Flatiron Flyer. If you’re still not sure if these options are a good fit, try signing up for to see if there is a carpool match waiting for you or find your transit route with this trip planner.

Sharing a ride, taking transit, teleworking and biking to work (or even to a transit stop) are all great ways to make an impact on how our region moves people, not vehicles. We encourage you to just try one new commute for one day to see how it goes.

Colorado’s ability to maintain, let alone expand multi-modal infrastructure to meet the burgeoning population is a major issue for our state, regional and local government officials, as well as for the private sector.  Stay tuned for next month’s blog post on Colorado’s current budget constraints and how creative funding mechanisms, such as toll revenue, are needed to help to fill the gap.

Improving the Speed of Transit one Bike-n-Ride Shelter at a Time

You may be wondering, “But wait, I am a non-cycling transit rider, how do Bike-n-Ride shelters affect me?” These secure, covered structures keep the wheels of transportation moving by eliminating (or significantly decreasing) the need to load bikes on buses and thus increase overall operations.

Cycling is one of the best ways to make a first-and-final mile connection – it’s environmentally friendly, cost-effective and provides remarkable health benefits, but what happens as more people opt for this connection?  Racks on buses will become overcrowded (meaning cyclists have to wait for the next bus) and the loading/unloading process will delay service for all passengers.

Bike-n-Ride shelters are key to maintaining a consistent schedule and offer a unique opportunity for cyclists. Just imagine being able to park one bike at the US 36 and Sheridan Station, bus to Boulder and pick up a second bike at the US 36 and Table Mesa station. With Bike-n-Ride shelters at each US 36 station, options such as these will soon become a reality.

With all of these pluses, it is no wonder that Bike-n-Ride shelters are the number one recommendation from the US 36 First and Final Mile Study (2013) – a study that assesses what enhancements could be made to improve US 36 transit connectivity. The study has guided our efforts for the past three years and currently has us working alongside RTD to secure funding for seven Bike-n-Ride shelters in Broomfield, Westminster and Boulder.

Bike-n-Ride shelters are key to streamlining and expediting service for the over 14,000 transit riders who travel the corridor each day. Without a consistent level of service that is frequent and reliable, it is likely those numbers will decrease. So, the next time you are on the bus, take a mental note of the time spent loading/unloading bikes and calculate how much faster the service would be with this one simple elimination, I think you will be surprised.