When the largest construction project in Colorado commenced, Commuting Solutions, a local nonprofit and Transportation Management Organization (TMO) for the US 36 corridor, implemented a program that would ease commuter frustration along US 36 during and after the US 36 Express Lanes construction project by reducing solo driving along the US 36 corridor. In Sept. 2012, the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program kicked off with the goal of increasing multimodal transportation usage through providing education, resources, and incentives for workers in the US 36 corridor.
“The US 36 Congestion Mitigation program is the largest behavior change program Commuting Solutions has ever implemented,” said Audrey DeBarros, executive director of Commuting Solutions. “We expected the program to be successful, but what we didn’t anticipate was the overwhelmingly positive response and sustained commute behavior changes.”
Over the course of two years, the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program allowed workers in the US 36 corridor to apply for free or reduced public transportation options. This included services such as vanpooling, carpooling, Eco Passes, and 10-ride ticket books. When the program began, Commuting Solutions anticipated about 2,015 program participants. By the conclusion of the study 2,637 commuters learned about and received incentives for various commuter options.
“The US 36 Express Lanes allow travelers to choose how they want to get around: bus rapid transit, carpool, solo driving for free or by paying a toll or biking. The Congestion Mitigation program was able to educate and help people try these choices,” said David Spector, Colorado High Performance Transportation Enterprise Director. “Providing commuting options and incentives during large construction projects helps travelers deal with construction impacts, and prepares them to take advantage of the new mobility choices after construction.”
The response to the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program created a ripple effect throughout the northwest metro region. In two years, daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduced by over 12,500 miles per a day and over three million miles over the course of the year. This is the equivalent of 120 times around earth or 13 trips to the moon.
Not only were vehicle miles traveled significantly reduced due to the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program, but commuters also reported a significant behavior change. The US 36 Congestion Mitigation Program resulted in a 15 percent decrease in drive-alone rate and a 64 percent increase in transit usage.
“When the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program began, we hoped that it would introduce commuters to transportation options other than driving alone,” said Steve Erickson, DRCOG director of communications and marketing. “The sustained behavior changes among commuters is really impressive, and people are clearly seeing the benefits of smarter commute choices.”
The US 36 Congestion Mitigation program concluded in March 2017. The program not only increased awareness about public transportation and commuter options but played a critical role in alleviating traffic congestion during and after the US 36 Express Lanes project. For additional information about the Congestion Mitigation program and alternative transportation options, please visit www.commutingsolutions.org.