US 36 Congestion Mitigation Program Targets Carpools and Vanpools

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June 25, 2015

Louisville, Colorado—Commuting Solutions is sharpening its social marketing campaign to focus on new carpools and vanpools. In partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE), Commuting Solutions is continuing efforts with its US 36 Congestion Mitigation Program with the primary purpose of easing traffic congestion on the corridor by reducing the number of solo drivers. As a result of the initial program from September 2014 to May 2015, 700 participants reduced their drive alone trips by 33 percent. Commuting Solutions expects to exceed the program goal of 833 participants as the US 36 Express Lanes Project nears completion in early 2016.

“We want to thank Commuting Solutions and the local partners whose efforts helped provide options to the traveling public during the construction impacts of the first phase of the US 36 Express Lanes project.” CDOT Project Director Mark Gosselin said. “The marketing program and education to the public helped to reduce the number of solo drivers on the corridor, which makes it safer for my construction crews to do their jobs,” says CDOT Project Director Mark Gosselin.

While CDOT outlines the choices available to all travelers on the corridor, Commuting Solutions will inspire commuters to share rides in the US 36 Express Lanes. The social marketing campaign offers incentives for a faster commute to those who form new carpools, vanpools and take the bus.

Those who apply for the carpool option will receive a $15 rebate on the Switchable High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Pass that is needed to travel for free in the US 36 Express Lanes. Currently two people are required to be in a vehicle to count as HOV, and no later than January 2017 the requirement will increase to three people in the vehicle. Commuting Solutions is teaming up with the Denver Regional Council of Governments to offer free HOV Passes to new Way to Go vanpools on the corridor. The program is also pioneering Master EcoPass contracts for 24 employers and their 900+ employees located within ¼ mile of the McCaslin, Broomfield and Sheridan Stations. These organizations already received free EcoPass contracts for one year and they can get a 70 percent discount on their EcoPass contracts in 2016. Commuting Solutions is seeking new employers to enroll in the program for 2016.

“This is an exciting time for Commuting Solutions and those who have partnered with us for years to bring innovation and progress to US 36. As the infrastructure transforms to accommodate travel by modes other than driving solo, we’re changing the commuting culture to be more supportive of active transportation,” says Commuting Solutions Executive Director Audrey DeBarros.

The marketing program will also educate commuters about the multi-modal options coming to the Northwest region during and after the completion of the US 36 Express Lanes Project in early 2016. Commuting Solutions is working with the Regional Transportation District (RTD) in an advocacy and educational role to introduce US 36 Bus Rapid Transit, which includes producing a video about the service. RTD’s new service, the Flatiron Flyer, will hit the road in 2016 and serve residents and employees at the six transit stations along the corridor. An 11-mile segment of the US 36 Bikeway will open Wednesday from Westminster to Louisville, giving commuters another innovative way to travel along the corridor. The remaining 7 miles of this “highway for bicyclists” will extend to Table Mesa Station in early 2016.

The marketing campaign will primarily target young professionals ages 25-45 due to their propensity for sharing a ride, their leadership of social trends and their strong ballot support for RTD FasTracks expansion. The secondary target audience includes anyone driving a Single Occupant Vehicle (SOV) during peak travel times.

Commuting Solutions will leverage connections with the 76 members in its coalition including local governments, environmental organizations and employers along the corridor to accomplish program goals. The geographic area being targeted includes 18 miles along US 36 and contains six RTD Stations. To learn more about the US 36 Congestion Mitigation Program, please visit the campaign page or the application page on commutingsolutions.org. Together we cruise!

About Commuting Solutions:
Commuting Solutions is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the mobility of commuters along the US 36 corridor. Our public-private coalition consists of 76 private sector members, nine public sector members between Westminster, Boulder and Longmont, and nine individual members. We understand the challenges and difficulties associated with the daily commute and offer real-life solutions to Northwest-area commuters.

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Smart Development in Superior Town Center

Commuting Solutions Invests in TDM Plan with Developer and Town

Louisville, CO—Superior Town Center is about to get some attractive amenities, with a dynamic and pedestrian-friendly town center in the works. Commuting Solutions recently hired UrbanTrans North America to provide Transportation Demand Management (TDM) planning services for the Superior Town Center Development Plan.

“To make our development plan even more attractive to residents, retailers and visitors, it’s critical we take full advantage of the multi-modal infrastructure underway along US 36 to make sure there are innovative commuting services, programs and local connections in place. We want Superior Town Center to be distinguished among other properties in the area for its thoughtful integration with the Regional Transportation System. The TDM plan will allow us to explore national best practices for how to programmatically make that happen,” says developer Randy Goodson.

The Transportation Demand Management Plan will help reduce traffic congestion on US 36 and in the nearby communities. The plan seeks to equip the town and the developer with a toolbox of strategies that will lead to residents, employees and tourists using active transportation options. The scope of work includes creating a plan that will reduce the number of trips generated by people who visit the new town center. Commuting Solutions is currently piloting Master EcoPasses among Superior employers and employees, which is one example of a TDM strategy that could make sense for residents and employees who locate within the town center. In addition to developing infrastructure to use transit, the TDM plan provides for parking management, employer programs such as the development of telework and compressed work weeks, carpool and vanpool programs, employee transportation coordinator networks, educational programs and associated information distribution tools.

“Commuting Solutions is excited to invest in the Superior Town Center planning efforts. We’re proud to be involved in such an innovative development, which will have a positive impact on US 36 commuters, Superior employers and residents. TDM is most effective when it is considered as part of the built environment planning, especially as it relates to parking.  Considering the suburban context in which the town center is being developed, Ranch Capital and the town are progressive in their consideration of TDM,” says Commuting Solutions Executive Director Audrey DeBarros.

The developer, Ranch Capital, will work with Commuting Solutions, UrbanTrans and community leaders to encourage a higher utilization of transit, carpools, bicycling and walking downtown. The development will be constructed over numerous years, but land is already being cleared for new homes and an ice rink, which will be part of the sports complex and ready for use in September 2015. Superior residents and employees will benefit from ease of getting to work from the McCaslin station, walkable amenities from work and home and bicycle friendly amenities.

“As the development of the Town Center picks up speed, community leaders, the developer and Commuting Solutions will work together to ensure successful completion of the project. I look forward to supporting the implementation of the TDM plan. There are many benefits to living and working in Superior, and that list is just getting longer,” says Superior Mayor Clint Folsom.

Ranch Capital will be developing the Town Center project with up to 1,400 new homes, up to 800,000 square feet of office and retail space, two hotels, and dedicating land for a school and many acres of parks and open spaces. The area boundaries are U.S. 36, McCaslin Boulevard and the northernmost homes of Rock Creek, with the mixed-use space under development representing an investment of $700 million. There will be a sports and medical complex at the Superior Town Center where Boulder Valley Ice and Indoor Sports will house 2.5 ice hockey rinks, an indoor soccer field, including Impact Sports facilities with indoor basketball, volleyball, sports fitness and training, batting cages, plus a coffee shop and other amenities in a 170,000-square-foot facility. The sports complex and an adjoining 60,000-square-foot medical building will be the first buildings in the project opening early next year.

About Commuting Solutions:
Commuting Solutions is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the mobility of commuters along the US 36 corridor. Our public-private coalition consists of 77 private sector members, nine public sector members between Westminster, Boulder and Longmont, and nine individual members.

US 36 RTD Master EcoPass Pilot Program First of Its Kind in Colorado

Free EcoPasses Provided to Local Employees

Louisville, CO—Commuting Solutions is launching the first RTD Master EcoPass Pilot Program along a major suburban corridor in Colorado. The nonprofit organization is providing EcoPasses to 1,000 employees who work for 25 employers. Organizations located within one-quarter mile of McCaslin, Broomfield and Westminster Center Park-n-Rides applied for the EcoPasses through Commuting Solutions. This initiative is part of a larger Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program in conjunction with the US 36 Express Lanes Project. At its peak, the TDM effort will reduce traffic congestion by close to 27,000 vehicle miles of travel per day.

“The program is exceeding expectations. We were able to quickly partner with RTD to create this corridor-wide program. Knowing the EcoPass is by far the most effective TDM strategy to reduce solo driving, I’m excited to see how the program will lead employees to use RTD service more frequently now, as well as when US 36 Bus Rapid Transit service begins in early 2016,” says Commuting Solutions Executive Director Audrey DeBarros.

The EcoPasses are free in 2015, and employers will receive 70 percent off the Master EcoPass contracts in 2016. The EcoPass is valid for unlimited rides on all RTD Local, Express, and Regional service, light rail and Call-n-Ride service. Employees with an EcoPass pay only $2.50 each way for SkyRide service to Denver International Airport. In the case of an emergency such as an unplanned schedule change, the Guaranteed Ride Home program gives EcoPass holders a free taxi ride home.

“RTD is pleased to partner with Commuting Solutions on this innovative pilot program to provide this opportunity to employers along the US 36 corridor. There are so many benefits to using public transportation and this program will help encourage people to try out transit,” says RTD CEO and General Manager Phil Washington.

Funding through the US 36 Express Lanes Project and Commuting Solutions will pay RTD $123,000 to provide the 2015 EcoPasses. The cost for an employee to buy 12 Regional monthly passes outside of this program is $176 each month or $2,112 over a 12-month period. If each employee who is eligible for the US 36 Master EcoPass Pilot Program bought monthly passes for a year, they would pay a combined amount of over $2 million. The pilot program enables employers to pass on the cost savings of a free transit pass, which also helps with employee retention. Another benefit of the program includes more parking spaces near employers as space is freed up from commuters leaving their cars behind.

“On behalf of the US 36 Express Lanes Project team, we are excited to be part of another innovative program with Commuting Solutions to reduce traffic congestion during the remainder of the project. This program helps us reach our goal, which is to highlight all the choices available in this corridor,” says CDOT Project Director Mark Gosselin.

According to the 2011 Boulder Valley Employee Survey for Transportation, people in Boulder who have an EcoPass are 4 to 6 times more likely to ride transit.

As a result of this pilot program, more commuters will be using the US 36 Express Lanes and Bus Rapid Transit after the construction project is complete in early 2016. RTD plans to introduce its Flatiron Flyer service at that time.

Commuting Solutions received survey responses from 375 people who qualify for an EcoPass through this program. Among those surveyed, 75 percent responded that they have never used transit for their work commute.

“The Master EcoPass Program is a tremendous benefit as it opens up a low-cost transportation option to many of our employees for at least the next year or two. We also have the advantage of being located near a major RTD bus hub, which makes the option more attractive and convenient,” says Double Tree Hotel General Manager Colin Grice, whose employer is located near the Westminster Center Park-n-Ride.

Employers represented in the US 36 Master EcoPass Pilot Program include DoubleTree Hotel, Whole Foods, U.S. Bank, Home Depot, Famous Brands International, Panera Bread, Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, Panda Express, PetSmart, Return Path and many smaller organizations. For a complete list of all the companies that have registered for the US 36 Master EcoPass Pilot Program, visit the US 36 Master EcoPass Pilot Program FAQ.

The closest Master EcoPass contract to the US 36 corridor is located in downtown Boulder. This contract includes 1,200 eligible employees who are part of CAGID (Central Area Improvement District and BID (Business Improvement District). The next closest contract is located near the Denver Tech Center with 370 eligible employees.

The TDM program includes incentives for solo drivers on US 36 to carpool, vanpool or ride transit through the duration of the US 36 Express Lanes Project. To learn more about the US 36 Master EcoPass Pilot Program, please visit the web page on commutingsolutions.org.

About Commuting Solutions:
Commuting Solutions is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the mobility of commuters along the US 36 corridor. Our public-private coalition consists of 76 private sector members, nine public sector members between Westminster, Boulder and Longmont, and nine individual members.

Curb Your Frustration Campaign Cuts the Cost to Share a Ride

Vanpools a Viable Commuting Option Along US 36 Corridor

Louisville, Colorado—Commuting Solutions is teaming up with regional partners to increase the number of vanpools traveling to, or through, the US 36 corridor in preparation for the opening of the US 36 Express Lanes Project by offering new vanpoolers a one-time $75 cash incentive. Next year, the US 36 Express Lanes Project from Federal Boulevard in Westminster to 88th Street in Louisville will open to bus riders, High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) and solo drivers who choose to pay a toll.

“I really enjoy reading and responding to e-mail and doing things with my hour commute every day. Obviously if you’re driving yourself you can’t do that,” says Brian Kedash, a Boulder resident who commutes to work at Advanced Systems Group in Northglenn. Kedash pays $87 per month to participate in a 6-person vanpool. The vehicle is a Toyota Sienna provided by Way to Go. He recently sold his Volkswagen Jetta, replacing $500 per month in car payments, gas and insurance with the vanpool.

Commuting Solutions subsidized the first month of Kedash’s participation in the vanpool through its program, Curb Your Frustration. Funded by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) and the Regional Transportation District (RTD), the campaign also provides a one-time $75 incentive to new carpoolers to reduce solo driving along the corridor. New transit riders can receive a free $45 RTD Regional 10-Ride Ticket Book. Currently 43 vanpools with 211 passengers travel along US 36.

Drivers who commute by themselves along US 36 are eligible to apply for the vanpool cash incentive on Commuting Solutions. A list of open and closed vanpools traveling along US 36 is updated monthly on the Commuting Solutions vanpool page.

The savings add up, especially for Boulder residents or employees who can combine multiple cash incentives from different organizations seeking to reduce solo driving. The University of Colorado Boulder is offering a $15 incentive per month through payroll deductions for CU Boulder employees to join a vanpool. The City of Boulder’s GO Boulder program is offering a $20 incentive per month to residents or employees who vanpool.

A vanpool consists of 5-15 passengers commuting 15 miles or more one-way. Commuting Solutions matches people with local vanpool providers such as Way to Go, VanGo and Enterprise Rideshare. The vanpool company provides the vehicle, maintenance and fuel costs in return for a monthly fee from each passenger. Organizations such as the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) subsidize many vanpools so that the monthly fee remains low. Through the website MyWaytoGo.org, it’s possible to search more than 100 vanpools posted in the Denver region with more vanpools forming along US 36 every month. When asked how he got started looking for a vanpool, Kedash said, “I was just thinking that there have to be hundreds of people making this commute every day and why not team up with them.”

To learn more about Curb Your Frustration and the vanpool program, visit the campaign page on 36CommutingSolutions.org.