Register for Winter Bike to Work Day; Join the January Challenge

Register Today for Winter Bike to Work Day!

Join Commuting Solutions, Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), Way to Go, and cyclists across the Denver northwest metro region for Winter Bike to Work Day!

Commuting Solutions will have two locations! The first is outside of the Sport Stable in Downtown Superior, and the second at US 36 & Broomfield RTD Station!

The annual event encourages seasoned cyclists to brave the elements and ride to work on their bikes. Pledge to ride with DRCOG online today!

Participate in Way to Go’s Monthly Challenges!

Have you logged your trips for January through the My Way to Go platform? Don’t forget to do so! One lucky winner who logs 8 or more trips will receive a National Parks 2022 Calendar!

Visit https://mywaytogo.org/ to register and log your trips!

 

Message from the Executive Director: Resiliency in 2022

Audrey DeBarros HeadshotWhile 2022 did not start off the way we thought or planned, it’s shown us one thing at Commuting Solutions. We are located in a resilient and thoughtful community, and that is something we are greatly appreciative of.

The Marshall Fire devastated our area and our community in Boulder and Broomfield Counties have rallied to support one another during this scary and stressful time. We are thankful of our partners and stakeholders at Boulder County, the City of Louisville, the Town of Superior, RTD, Via Mobility Services and so many more for what you’re doing to help keep transportation moving forward during these times.

We are also thankful for the support from our federal, state, regional and local dignitaries for stepping quickly when we needed help the most. Thank you to Gov. Jared Polis, Congressman Joe Neguse, Senators Hickenlooper and Bennet for your support and quickly getting FEMA resources to our communities and residents.

And thank you to President Joe Biden for showing your support and care and providing our communities with resources in a timely manner.

We are a resilient community, and we will be even stronger after this. We will need to continue to rely on each other and support each other.

Boulder County has created a webpage with transportation commuting resources available to those who have been affected. Commuting Solutions wants to help provide resources as well, and if you need support, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email and we will help.

Cheers,

Audrey DeBarros, Executive Director

Transportation Resources Available for Those Affected by Marshall Fire

This post has been updated as of Jan. 7, 2022.

The recent fire that devastated our area has brought a multitude of challenges. Commuting Solutions is providing resources from local and regional partners regarding transportation together to help those affected by the fire.

The list will be updated as resources are made more available.

Disaster Assistance Center

The Disaster Assistance Center is located at 1755 S. Public Road in Lafayette.

Boulder County Services

Boulder County is working with local and regional agencies to provide transportation assistance to and from the impacted communities as well as to the DAC. Boulder County has created a webpage with available information and resources.

RTD Services

As of Jan. 6, Route 228 is back to its normal route. For the schedule, visit RTD online.

Complimentary ride passes are available at the DAC for those who need them. Commuting Solutions can also provide ride passes— email cathi@commutingsolutions.org or call at 303-604-4383.

As of Jan. 5, US 36 & McCaslin Station is open and being services and FF1 and AB are being operated once again.

As of Jan. 6, customers booking FlexRide trips can book rides to any destination throughout east Boulder County including to/from Superior, Louisville, Lafayette and the Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) at 1755 S. Public Road in Lafayette.

To schedule a FlexRide trip, go to rtd-denver.com/services/flexride/trip-planner. FlexRide can also be scheduled by downloading the FlexRide app or by phone at 303-299-6000.

RTD customers who left their vehicle at the US 36 McCaslin Park-n-Ride can now pick up their vehicles. Customers must enter at the corner of McCaslin Blvd. and Marshall Road and may be asked to show identification to enter.

School Commuting

Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) is working with Boulder Valley School District to provide a resource which connects parents to available carpools to school. To register for the resource, email your name and where your student goes to school to saferoutes@bvsd.org. You will receive information about registering for your specific school, which will allow you to connect with other parents.

Ride Free Lafayette Service

As of Jan. 6, customers can book rides to any destination throughout east Boulder County including to/from Superior, Louisville, Lafayette and the Disaster Assistance Center using Ride Free Lafayette (RFL).

You can book a trip by visiting www.ridefreelafayette.com, by calling 833-456-3359 or via the On Demand Transit Rider app.

Via Mobility Service

Via Mobility Services’ Paratransit division can provide rides to people and assist with trips to the DAC Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by calling 303-447-9636. For assistance after those hours, please call 303-725-4160.

Car Share Services

Uber vouchers for general travel are available at the DAC. Lyft is offering two rides, up to $15 each, through their LyftUp Disaster Response program through Jan. 18.

Colorado CarShare is offering a variety of free services to those affected. Call 303-720-1185 or email info@carshare.org.

Bicycle Services

Community Cycles is offering free used bikes for transportation for those affected. To apply for a bike, email firebikes@communitycycles.org and include your height, address and a brief description of how you’ll be using the bike.

Louisville Cyclery is collecting and distributing used bikes. Visit their shop to donate or if you need a bike at 889 E. South Boulder Road in Louisville.

FullCycle & Colorado MultiSport is offering free one-day bike rentals and discounts on multi-day rentals. Visit their website to learn more.

Telework Services

Confluence Small Business Collective in Lafayette is offering free workspaces to those who have been impacted. Visit Confluence online for more information.

A Message from the Executive Director: Employee Traffic Reduction Program

Audrey DeBarros HeadshotNext month, the Air Quality Control Division will be holding a two-day rulemaking hearing to discuss the Employee Traffic Reduction Program (ETRP), which will affect businesses across the northwest metro region.

ETRP is a new rule that is being proposed by two organizations, the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division (ACPD) and was included in Gov. Jared Polis’ Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap.

The rule will set goal for large employers to achieve reductions in the number of employees who drive alone, or “single-occupant vehicle” (SOV) employee commutes.

A program that offers telecommuting, public transit, ridesharing or other means not only benefits air quality, but it can also improve employee wellness, retention and company culture.

As a Transportation Management Organization (TMOs), Commuting Solutions is committed to successful, business friendly, ETRP that can reduce vehicle miles traveled and achieve Greenhouse Gas reductions.

As TMOs, we want to see the business community be successful, we want to help employers improve the quality of life for their employees through innovative commuting programs such as ETRP.

The rulemaking hearing will take place from Aug. 18 to 20.

Since early 2020, Commuting Solutions began working with other TMOs to explore the ETRP and how it could work and effect businesses, as well as creating a business-friendly role in the northwest metro region. We plan to create an employee portal to make it easy for employers to implement the new rule.

Commute with Style: Carpool and Vanpool for Employees

As your workplace returns to the office, now is the perfect time to make your commute more sustainable! Two easy options to get started is by carpooling and vanpooling!

Why You Should Carpool

Carpooling is an easy way to share a ride, which will help reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality in the region!

Carpooling helps the environment but can also benefit those in the car! Sharing rides save money, time and helps reduce stress.

How to Get Started with Carpool

For those who commute throughout the Denver metro region can use resources such as MyWaytoGo.org! My Way to Go, in partnership with the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), can help find registered users who are either part of an existing carpool or looking for a carpool buddy.

When you register with MyWaytoGo, you are entered into a database with more than 10,000 users.

To find your best carpooling option, enter your starting location, ending location and the details for when you want to meet. The site will show you existing pools and you can communicate with those members to get your carpool going!

If you’re currently seeking to fill your car, MyWaytoGo can also help! Register your carpool and others can sign up to join!

Why You Should Vanpool

Vanpools are a great way to commute if you’re driving 15 miles or more to work one-way. Passengers share the ride, which seats from five to 15 people and pay a monthly fee that covers the cost of fuel, insurance and vehicle maintenance.

Vanpools help reduce the amount of vehicles on the road, which also improves air quality!

How to Get Started with Vanpool

For commuters who travel around the Denver metro region, MyWaytoGo.org resource is the place to start!

My Way to Go, in partnership with the DRCOG can help find registered users who are either part of an existing carpool or looking for some vanpool buddies!

My Way to Go vanpools operate through Commute with Enterprise, the largest vanpool provider in North America.

For those who live in the North Front Range region such as Berthoud, Fort Collins, Greeley, Johnstown and Loveland, check out VanGo, a vanpool program for the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization.

How Carpool and Vanpool Can Save You Money

Did you know that there is a pre-tax commute benefit? The IRS Code, section 132(F) allows employees to use pre-tax salary towards their transit and vanpool commuting costs.

Commuter benefits, or transit benefits, are an employer-based provided package that helps offset the cost for employees to get to work. Just like a Health Savings Account, retirement plan, commuter benefits are a tax-savvy, morale-boosting, mobile-centric way for employees and employers to choose smart commute options and save money!

Commuter benefits include parking benefits, transit benefits, vanpool benefits and bicycle commuting benefits!

The IRS allows employers to withhold a set amount of employee’s pre-tax income for vanpool commuting costs too! This lowers the employee’s taxable income, which will add money to your pocket!

Employees may also provide a monthly fare subsidy as part of the qualified IRS Transportation Fringe Benefit, under the section 132(F) of the IRS tax code.

What to Know Before You Carpool or Vanpool

Some important things to discuss prior to beginning your commute include:

  • How long will you wait on late arrivals?
  • What happens if someone has to stay late at work?
  • How will you track trips and payment?
  • What days will you carpool? Will this be an everyday carpool/vanpool, or just a couple days a week?
  • Who is responsible for driving, and which days? How will driving duties be split up?
  • Who will be responsible for taking the van (for vanpool) in for maintenance?

Establishing rules up front will help ensure you and your carpool and vanpool buddies will have a smooth ride together!

Commuting Solutions can help you and your team figure out the best commuting options! Contact us by emailing jillian@commutingsolutions.org with any additional questions you may have about carpooling or vanpooling!

Traveling from Denver to Boulder, Ways to Get Around

Whether you’re commuting from Denver to Boulder, or going for a fun afternoon activity, there are multiple ways to get there. From riding the bus, riding your bike, or taking a carshare ride, you can travel along US 36 more sustainably!

Riding Your Bike Along the US 36 Bikeway

If you want to op-out of taking your car, another great option is a longer bike ride! Cycling to work is one of the most powerful ways to positively impact our region’s traffic congestion and air quality.

It’s never been easier with resources such as the US 36 Bikeway and the Bike Northwest Interactive Map!

Before you hit the road, follow these tips:

  • Map your route – map your route then trace those steps as a pedestrian or in a car.
  • Gear up – Set yourself up for success and enjoy your ride with the proper gear! Head to your local bicycle shop where employees can help you pick the perfect gear.
  • Safety – Learn the proper hand signals and how your helmet should fit before hitting the road.
  • Find a safe place for your bike – Ensure there is a bike rack you can use once you reach the office or be able to store it inside the building.

Combining Bicycling and Public Transit Along US 36

Want to use both your bicycle and public transportation? Bike-n-Ride Shelters at RTD stations can help you achieve your goal!

Bike-n-Ride Shelters provide long-term, secure and weather-protected bicycle storage for commuters making connections to and from local or regional transit routes. The Bike-n-Ride program makes it easy to combine bus trips and bike rides by using the shelter to complete the first or final mile of your commute.

To use a shelter, visit Commuting Solutions’ Bike-n-Ride webpage to apply today!

Along the US 36 corridor, there are multiple Bike-n-Ride Shelters:

  • Broomfield (Westbound US 36 & Broomfield) OPENS 2021
  • Westminster (Eastbound US 36 & Sheridan) OPENS 2021
  • Superior (US 36 & Eastbound McCaslin)
  • Louisville (US 36 & Westbound McCaslin)
  • Hover Street & Highway 119/Diagonal in Longmont
  • 30th Street & Diagonal Hwy, North Boulder
  • 8th & Coffman, downtown Longmont
  • US 36 & Table Mesa Station (near gate C)
  • Downtown Boulder Station – Walnut and 14th Street

Take the Flatiron Flyer

If you prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenery, or get some work done, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) has you covered!

RTD’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service, the Flatiron Flyer is the first BRT to connect Denver with the northwest metro region’s businesses, federal institutions and the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Riders have access to downtown Boulder, downtown Denver, the Anschutz Medical Campus, Denver International Airport and many more connections!

The Flatiron Flyer offers commuters a reliable ride every 15 minutes during peak hours and every 15 minutes off-peak, Monday through Friday. On the weekends, the Flatiron Flyer offers commuters a reliable ride every 15 minutes during peak hours on Saturday and every 30 minutes on Sunday.

The 2021 Flatiron Flyer fares are:

  • $3 for a local three-hour pass
  • $5.25 for a regional three-hour pass
  • All trip fares can be calculated online with RTD

Flatiron Flyer Routes include:

  • Route FF1 – travels between Union Station and Downtown Boulder station.
  • Route FF3 – Travels from Broomfield to Union Station with stops at US 36 & Church Ranch Station and US 36 & Sheridan Station.
  • Route FF5 – Downtown Boulder Station to Anschutz

Currently, Routes FF2, FF4, FF6 and FF7 are suspended.

Using RTD’s Trip Planner also allows riders to plan their trips and provides real-time updates on the services.

Sharing Your Route

Whether you’re driving your car, being picked up by your co-worker, sitting in a van or using an app to order your ride, there are multiple options to get from home to work.

Carpool allows you to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality in the northwest metro region! Carpooling not only benefits the environment but benefits you! Sharing a ride saves you time, money and reduces stress.

Resources such as MyWaytoGo.org can help you find registered users who are part of an existing pool or looking for a carpool buddy. More than 10,000 people are currently registered!

Vanpools are the perfect commute option for commuters who travel more than 15 miles to work one-way. Passengers share the ride in a van, which can seat up to 15 people, and pay a monthly fee that covers the cost of fuel, insurance and vehicle maintenance.

Vanpools help reduce the number of vehicles on the road, and allows the riders to ride the US 36 Express Lanes for free!

Resources such as MyWayToGo.org can help you find registered users who are part of a pool or looking for a buddy! My Way to Go Vanpools operate through Commute with Enterprise.

If you’re ordering your ride through a mobile app with Uber or Lyft both allow riders to reduce costs and carbon emissions by sharing a ride with someone going the same direction.

Uber POOL provides riders a carpooling service which helps reduce the cost of travel as well as carbon emissions by sharing a ride.

If you want to use a car, but don’t own one, an option is to use a car-share service!

Colorado Carshare is a local 501(c)(3) car-sharing organization which provides alternatives to individual car ownership.

Incentives to Commuting

Did you know there are incentives to commuting with others? Check out Commuting Solutions’ blog post about commuter benefits, transit benefits!

Resources:

RTD’s fare calculator
RTD’s Flatiron Flyer
FF1 Schedule
FF3 Schedule
FF5 Schedule
US 36 Bikeway
Bike-n-Ride Shelters
Boulder County Bike Map
Denver Bike Map
MyWaytoGo.org
Commute with Enterprise
Innovations in Transportation

Employee Trip Reduction Program Rulemaking Process

The Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) will discuss the Employee Trip Reduction Program (ETRP) on Thursday and determine whether there will be a rulemaking hearing this summer.

The ETRP is a new rule that is being proposed by two organizations, the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) and Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC), and was included in Gov. Jared Polis’ Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap.

This rule would set goals for large employers to achieve reductions in the number of employees who drive alone, or “single-occupant vehicle” (SOV) employee commutes. A program that offers telecommuting, public transit, ridesharing or other means not only benefits air quality, it can also improve employee wellness, retention and company culture. The Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) will take the rule under consideration in May 2021, requesting a rulemaking hearing be set for August 2021.

Ways to Celebrate Earth Day 2021

Earth Day 2021 ChallengeWe’re halfway through the month of April, which means it’s almost Earth Day! At Commuting Solutions, we pride ourselves on providing progressive, flexible and sustainable transportation solutions that also reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

To celebrate Earth Day, Commuting Solutions is hosting a virtual challenge!

During the week of April 19-23, leave your car at home and take a bike ride, a walk, telework, carpool or use public transportation!

Anytime you leave the car at home, send us your selfies with the hashtag, #CSEarthDay2021. During the week, Commuting Solutions staff will share their photos to encourage everyone during the challenge!

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Want more ways to celebrate?

Some local jurisdictions are celebrating Earth Day as well!

On April 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the City of Louisville is showing Kiss the Ground, an inspiring and groundbreaking film that reveals a viable solution to our climate crisis: the soil.

Registration is required and can be done online.

On April 22, the City of Westminster is participating in the Great Global Cleanup. The clean-up can take place between April 22 and April 30. The city will provide supplies and disposal of full trash bags.

The City and County of Broomfield is hosting a week long Community Earth Day Scavenger Hunt! The event will kick off on Saturday, April 17, with the City of Broomfield’s Earth Day celebration at the public library.

Registration is required by April 17 and can be done online.

To register, contact Kristen May at kmay@cityofwestminster.us or call 303.658.2191.

With Commuting Solutions, you can become a part of the Workplace Commute Ambassadors! The program helps employees in the northwest metro region encourage their co-workers to choose sustainable transportation options, such as carpooling, riding transit, bicycling, vanpooling, teleworking and walking.

Learn more about the program by emailing Jillian at jillian@commutingsolutions.org.

Employee Trip Reduction Program Meeting Scheduled

There is an upcoming transportation rulemaking process, initiated by the Colorado air Pollution Control Division (APCD) which could impact transportation dynamics for employees.

This rule is specific to employers’ efforts to reduce emissions from employee transportation to and from work that contributes to harmful air pollution.

The APCD intends to propose an Employee Traffic Reduction Program (ETRP) rule for consideration by the Air Quality Control Commission (ACQQ) in May, and request that a rulemaking hearing by set by August.

This rule would set goals for large employers to achieve sustained reductions in the number of people who drive alone, or “single-occupant vehicle” (SOV) employee commutes. A program that offers teleworking, public transit, ridesharing or other means not only benefits the air quality, but it can also improve employee wellness, retention and company culture.

Over the last several months, the Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC), local transportation management organizations (TMOs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and local government entities have been reviewing various models to assist employers in developing Employer Trip/Employee Traffic Reduction Programs (ETRP). Commuting Solutions has been working with partners for the last several months during this rulemaking process to ensure businesses are receiving support while also prioritizing sustainable options.

This plan is also a part of Gov. Jared Polis’ Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap, which was approved earlier this year.

Input from the employer is highly desired and encouraged! To participate, a listening session for the general public, in both English and Spanish, is scheduled for March 18 from 6-8 p.m.

Register online for the events, or provide comments.

The RAQC will also continue the stakeholder process and invites interested employers to attend meetings scheduled for:

April 2 from 9:30 a.m. – noon

April 7 from 9:30 a.m. – noon

Submit comments online.

Commuter Benefits, Transit Benefits FAQ

People in Car Driving to WorkWhat is a pre-tax commute benefit?

The IRS Code, section 132(f), allows employees to use pre-tax salary towards their transit and vanpool commuting costs.

Commuter benefits, or transit benefits, are an employer-provided package that helps offset the cost for employees to get to work. Like a Health Savings Account, retirement plan and other benefits, commuter benefits are a tax-savvy, morale-boosting, mobility-centric way for employees and employers alike to choose smarter commute options and save money.

Commuter benefits include parking benefits, transit benefits, vanpool benefits and bicycle commuting benefits.

How do commuter benefits work?

When an employee enrolls in a pre-tax commuter benefits program, they will provide the amount of their monthly commuting cost for transit and/or commuting-related parking up the monthly limits.

The tax-free commuting dollars are provided to the employee in a product, such as a voucher, smart card, debit card, etc., to cover all commuting options. Currently, employees can use up to $270 a month for transit, and the same amount for commuter-related parking.

Can commuter benefits also benefit the employer?

Yes, commuter benefits also benefit the employer! By offering employees a pre-tax commuter benefits program, the cost of commuting deducted for employees reduces the amount of payroll being taxed.

What qualifies as transportation fringe benefits?

  • Commuter transportation in a commuter highway vehicle
  • Transit passes
  • Qualified parking
  • Qualified bicycle commuting expenses.

Are commuter benefits a tax write-off?

No, commuter benefits are not a tax write-off.

Is the pre-tax transit and vanpool benefit the same as a transit or vanpool subsidy?

No. The pre-tax transit and vanpool benefit uses the employee’s own salary before taxes to pay toward the commute funding. A transit or vanpool subsidy is when the employer provides employees with a transit or vanpool benefit above and beyond the employee’s salary.

Are there benefits for cycling?

Earlier this year, a revamped Bicycle Commuter Act was introduced in the US House of Representatives. It would ensure bike commuters get pre-tax commuter benefits similar to those who drive and park or take public transportation to work.

In 2017, Congress eliminated a tax credit for bike commuters which allowed employers to reimburse workers as much as $20 per month, pre-tax, for bike commuting expenses.

If the bill passes, it will make the benefit a pre-tax benefit, allow employees to receive a bicycle benefit of up to 30% of the parking benefit, allow the bicycle benefit to be used in concert with the transit and parking benefits and add bike-shares as eligible for the benefit, clarifying that e-bikes are eligible.

What is vanpooling?

Vanpool is a perfect way to get to and from work for those who travel more than 15 miles to work one-way. Passengers share a ride in a van that seats five to 15 people and pay a monthly fee that covers the cost of fuel, insurance and vehicle maintenance.

Vanpooling helps reduce the number of vehicles on the road!

Is there a pre-tax benefit for vanpooling?

Yes! The IRS allows employers to withhold a set amount of employee’s pre-tax income for vanpool commuting costs. This lower’s the employee’s taxable income, which puts more money into their pocket.

Employees may also provide a monthly fare subsidy as part of the qualified IRS Transportation Fringe Benefit, under section 132(F) of the IRS tax code.

What are the tax benefits for Boulder County residents?

  • The University of Colorado-Boulder offers a $25 monthly incentive for employees who vanpool.
  • The City of Boulder offers a $20 monthly incentive for Boulder residents or employees who vanpool.
  • Boulder County offers a $70 monthly incentive for Boulder County employees who chose to vanpool as well as offering priority parking.
  • For vanpoolers within the North Front Range, and use VanGo, can receive up to $260 for commuting costs. The cost will be taken out of the paycheck prior to taxes.

What are the tax benefits for Broomfield County residents?

The City and County of Broomfield offers voluntary pre-tax savings plans to full-time and eligible part-time employees for health, dependent care and transportation expenses.

  • Broomfield County offers up to $225 per month, with no annual max, for vanpool or bus passes for its maximum annual contribution. Employee contribution is up to $225 per month.
  • For vanpoolers within the North Front Range, and use VanGo, can receive up to $260 for commuting costs. The cost will be taken out of the paycheck prior to taxes.

 

Commuting Solutions can help your business get started with a vanpool! For more information, contact us at info@commutingsolutions.org.

Resources:

Internal Revenue Service Taxable Fringe Benefit Guide

132(F) of the IRS tax code

24-Hour Flex