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

Regional Transportation District (RTD) Updates: June 2021

Regional Transportation District (RTD) to Discuss September Service Changes

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) announced it will be discussing potential September service changes during virtual public hearings on June 28, July 1 and 7.

For more information, and to attend the meeting, visit RTD online.

Regional Transportation District (RTD) Lifts Capacity Limits on Vehicles

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) announced it lifted its capacity limits on vehicles as June service changes took effect on June 13.

The service adjustments support modest increases in ridership, improve on-time performance and increase service reliability. For more information, visit RTD online.

Regional Transportation District (RTD) to Speak about Safety, Security 

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) will hold two virtual meetings to allow the public to learn about safety, security and operations.

The following RTD staff members will be in attendance:

  • Mike Meader, Chief Safety and Security Officer
  • Bob Grado, Transit Police Chief
  • Michael Ford, Chief Operations Officer
  • Fred Worthen, Assistant General Manager of Bus Operations
  • Dave Jensen, Assistant General Manager of Rail Operations
  • Danielle Jones, Social Worker and Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner

For more information, visit RTD online.

RTD Seeks Input from Public to Achieve Vision

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) is working to create a long-term plan/vision for the agency. Reimagine RTD kicked off in late 2019 but was put on hold due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic until February.

Reimagine RTD provides an objective, data-driven process to engage customers, regional partners, employees and community members in a discussion about how to address challenges and to determine RTD’s role in meeting the long-term mobility needs of the region.

Two main elements of the planning effort include developing a near-term “System Optimization Plan” and creating a longer-term visionary “Mobility Plan for the Future.”

Currently, RTD is seeking input from the public to help develop a roadmap to achieve the vision set by RTD’s principles.

For more information, visit RTD online.

Regional Transportation District Update: May 2021

RTD Begins Fare Study

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) is embarking on a comprehensive, systemwide study of its fares and a fare equity analysis.

The process is expected to take, a minimum, 18 months and will be the first of its kind for RTD. It will include comprehensive public involvement to gain input and feedback from customers, local leaders and agency employees.

RTD follows a fare structure that was implemented in 2016, with fare levels in three categories: Local, Regional and Airport. The RTD Board approved revisions to the agency’s fare structure and pass programs in September 2018 that was implemented in 2019.

For more information, visit RTD’s website.

RTD Service Changes Begin Next Month

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) will implement service changes to bus routes and rail lines on June 13.

To support modest increases in ridership, improve on-time performance and increase service reliability while accounting for required social distancing on vehicles per COVID-19.

To view the list of service changes, visit RTD online.

RTD Seeks Input from Public to Achieve Vision

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) is working to create a long-term plan/vision for the agency. Reimagine RTD kicked off in late 2019 but was put on hold due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic until February.

Reimagine RTD provides an objective, data-driven process to engage customers, regional partners, employees and community members in a discussion about how to address challenges and to determine RTD’s role in meeting the long-term mobility needs of the region.

Two main elements of the planning effort include developing a near-term “System Optimization Plan” and creating a longer-term visionary “Mobility Plan for the Future.”

Currently, RTD is seeking input from the public to help develop a roadmap to achieve the vision set by RTD’s principles.

For more information, visit RTD online.

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.

Front Range Passenger Rail District Bill Passes the Senate

SB 21-238 was recently introduced and passed the Senate, and if approved, would create a Front Range Passenger Rail District. Recently, Commuting Solutions voiced support for this bill.

This bill would create a district for planning, designing, developing, financing, constructing, operating and maintaining a passenger rail system, specify the territory, governing structure, powers and duties of the district.

According to the bill, the district is specifically required to work collaboratively with the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to ensure interconnectivity with any passenger rail system operated by or for the RTD and with Amtrak.

The area the district comprises of extends from Wyoming to New Mexico and includes:

  • The entirety of the City and County of Broomfield and City and County of Denver
  • All areas within Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Huerfano, Jefferson, Larimer, Las Animas, Pueblo and Weld Counties within the territory of a metropolitan planning organization (MPO)
  • All areas within Huerfano, Las Animas, and Pueblo counties that are not located within the territory of a MPO and are located within a county precinct that is located wholly or partly within 5 miles of the public right-of-way of interstate highway 25; and
    All areas within Larimer and Weld counties that are not located within the territory of a MPO and are located within a county precinct that is north of the city of Fort Collins and is located wholly or partly within 5 miles of the public right-of-way of interstate highway 25.

The sponsors of the bill include Senator Leroy Garcia, Senator Rachel Zenziner, Rep. Daneye Esgar and Rep. Matt Gray.

Regional Transportation District Bill Passes House and Senate; Makes Way to Governor’s Desk

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) Operation bill, House Bill 21-1186, has passed both the House and Senate. The Senate passed the bill on its third reading with no amendments earlier this month.

The RTD Bill will provide greater flexibility to RTD to lower fares and take advantage of new revenue sources.

The bill will do the following:

  • Remove the requirement for RTD to cover 30% of operating costs through fare revenue. This will allow RTD to reduce fairs in order to boost ridership.
  • Allow RTD to develop district properties for retail, commercial or residential purposes.
  • Allow RTD to contract with nonprofits and local governments to help lower operating costs.

The revised bill can be read online.

RTD Staff Presents Options to Advance Northwest Rail Planning

On April 6, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board of Directors discussed the Northwest Rail during a study session.

According to a Colorado Public Radio story, the board gave initial support for new environmental engineering work which could take 18 to 24 months and cost between $5 million to $8 million.

The board could give a formal approval this summer.

The new planning work will look at building a stripped-down service plan, which could include three trains to Denver in the morning, and three trains to Boulder and Longmont in the evening. RTD will pay for the work with the savings account the board created for future FasTrack projects, which will need formal approval from the directors.

The planning work will include construction and operating costs, and potentially a timeline for opening.

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.

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

RTD Service and Safety Changes in the Northwest Metro Region

Earlier this week, we welcomed RTD Directors Lynn Guissinger and Judy Lubow, and RTD Lead Service Planner Nataly Handlos, to our second COVID-19 webinar to discuss recent safety changes and the upcoming 40% service reduction (effective Sunday, April 19) on RTD public transit.

Five weeks ago, the world was very different for RTD. They were struggling to hire drivers, looking at modest service changes, and having what now seem like minor budget issues. Today, we’re all living through a worldwide experiment in commuting as the pandemic hits transit and local governments.

Ridership by the Numbers

Prior to COVID-19, RTD carried approximately 350,000 people per day (prior to March 12) and now carries approximately 100,000 people per day – primarily essential service workers dependent on public transit to get to and from work.

Most of the ridership today is local routes:

  • Flatiron Flyer: carried 12,000 people on March 11 and 2,000 people on April 8.
  • Light rail: carried 103,000 people on March 11 and 27,000 people on April 8.
  • Commuter rail: carrying 40% of traditional ridership.
  • Local service: carrying about 179,000 on March 11 and 87,000 people on April 8.

The bulk of RTD’s revenue comes for sales and use tax from fares and is taking a huge hit from the decrease in ridership. They are working hard to adjust their operations to support both revenue generation and its ridership.

COVID-19 Service Plan

The reduced service plan goes into effect on Sunday, April 19 – approximately 40% less service than traditionally offered. Most services will be running on a Saturday schedule with some adding additional morning and evening trips.

The reduction in service is in response to a significant decrease in ridership, and reduced service levels will remain in effect until further notice. RTD will continue to evaluate ridership and service as demand warrants.

Northwest Area Impacts

Most of the routes in our local region will operate Monday-Friday on the current Saturday service level and service span schedules. Some routes will have additional trips or operate earlier/later than typical Saturday service levels and spans.

We’ve highlighted routes in the northwest metro region here on our COVID-19 resource page and you can find information all routes here.

FlexRide and Access-a-Ride

The RTD team quickly put a plan into action to make sure their Access-a-Ride customers – mostly elderly and those with disabilities – would be able to get groceries delivered. They’ve served approximately 7% of those customers with deliveries – thank you!

All subscription-reserved trips are suspended as of Sunday, April 19 and reservations will be treated on a first-come, first-served basis. To book a trip, customers may call 303-292-6560. Get all the details here.

Keeping Employees and Customers Safe

In order to protect the health of RTD staff and the public, RTD is pursuing certain health precautions during COVID-19. These precautions are a moving target and change quickly, so please visit the RTD website for the most current information.

  • Providing personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves, sanitizing wipes, and hand sanitizers as they become available.
  • Rear-door boarding and suspension of fares implemented.
  • Area behind the operators and wheelchair area roped off.
  • Minimizing number of riders on buses and trains – approx. 15 passengers per bus; 20 on larger buses; 30 on trains.
  • If necessary, buses will bypass stops and call for backup if they do not believe social distancing (6-foot spacing) can be maintained.
  • Adding more buses on most popular routes; staging buses in those areas as available; using additional train cars on popular lines.
  • Transit police enforcing Customer Code of Conduct, which prohibits sleeping on vehicles and requires deboarding at end of line or route.

Partners in Safety

This issue is very important to RTD. It’s not solely RTD’s responsibility to keep the public safe, but it’s every rider’s responsibility to keep themselves safe.

  • Passengers should only take essential trips, wear masks while riding transit.
  • Practice proper hand-washing hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette.
  • Don’t board a vehicle if it appears to be full; another bus isn’t far behind.
  • Social distancing is everyone’s responsibility.
  • Public encouraged to use good judgement.

Ongoing RTD Communications and Outreach

RTD is placing prominent, proactive, and timely info on RTD website and temporary signage on all RTD vehicles and facilities in English and Spanish. Daily email updates are being shared with Board members and all RTD staff including daily recorded employee message, and periodic email updates are distributed to customers, elected officials and key stakeholders.

Federal Stimulus Package – CARES Act

Some good news! $232 million is the Denver metro area’s share of a $25 billion relief package for US public transit systems authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress last month.

Ongoing Challenges

  • Continued shortage of masks and some cleaning supplies
  • Riders not respecting social distancing
  • Some people riding the system without deboarding

Watch or listen to the replay here to hear the Q&A session, including EcoPass reimbursements, 16th Street shuttle use, an update on the Northwest Rail Line, and the search for a General Manager.

Thank you to RTD for joining us to discuss these important changes to our region!