Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

City of Aspen - CO

FAST FACTS ABOUT: City of Aspen - CO
Types of TDM: Mode Choice
Keywords: tourism, shuttle service, paid parking, marketing, ridesharing, recreation, HOV
Area Demographics: Premier winter sports and recreation destination in west-central Colorado. Peak season visitor population nearly matches resident population.
Program: Various programs including, carpool parking incentives, mandatory shuttle service, paid parking programs, and aggressive marketing.
Results: Money generated from the paid parking program directly benefits demand-side strategies. Traffic volumes have not exceeded 1993 volumes. Parking occupancy reduction of 10%.
Cost of Program: Unavailable; numerous departments cover resource needs. As an indication, the City’s marketing budget (including printing costs) for 2003 was approximately $50,000.
Staff: The City of Aspen has one full-time individual dedicated to demand-side strategies.
Contact: Lynn Bader, City of Aspen,


Aspen at the Top
Aspen, Colorado is recognized as a premier recreational and resort destination in the western United States. Located approximately 220 miles west of Denver, Aspen is home to less than 15,000 permanent residents. Visitors push the seasonal population to 25,000 during the winter peak ski season. Aspen is home to the Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) which operates two luxury hotels and 15 restaurants. At the peak winter season, ASC employs 3400 people, and is the largest employer in the Valley.

Aspen is accessible via Colorado Highway 82 (CO 82), which is currently under construction. The C0 82 project is a 40-mile corridor improvement from Glenwood Springs, Colorado at I-70 to Aspen. A key project component includes the installation of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. When completed, the HOV facility will stretch 16 miles from Basalt to Aspen. The HOV lane has also served as a construction traffic impact mitigation tool, reducing the number of vehicle trips passing through the construction zones along CO 82. By using temporary signing and striping during construction, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) was able to start providing a time-saving advantage to HOVs.

Aspen has implemented transportation goals to preserve the physical environment and control future traffic impacts on the community. The 1993 Aspen Area Community Plan adopted a transportation goal to limit the traffic entering Aspen to 1993 volumes. Traffic volume counts are taken continuously at Castle Creek Bridge and are summarized monthly to ensure that the goal is being met. The goal has been met every year since. The City of Aspen has adopted several transportation goals besides limiting traffic volumes such as reducing parking occupancy rates downtown and offering viable alternatives to driving alone.

Program Description - Complementing Strategies
Aspen exemplifies the cohesion of a range of demand-side strategies, in most cases implemented by a number of different organizations (local transit agency, non-profit, local jurisdiction, etc.), successfully contributing to vehicle trip reduction. The section below highlights a few of the Aspen’s programs although success is difficult to attribute to only one or two strategies.

Area-wide Rideshare - The City of Aspen coordinates the local rideshare arrangements. The distribution of daily Carpool Parking Permits provides an indication of the success of their ridesharing program. To encourage carpooling, vehicles with more than 3 people entering the downtown area can stop at a kiosk and receive a Carpool Parking Permit that allows that vehicle to park in a designated area free of charge all day. Approximately 16,000 daily permits are issued annually. Coupled with the high-occupancy vehicle lanes and transit signal priority, the distribution of these permits is one of the most successful incentives to rideshare.

Transit Service - The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) provides daily fixed route and demand response transit services. RFTA operates partially on a local sales tax. The local jurisdictions including Aspen and Glendale contribute proportionately to the transit service they receive. During the summer, RFTA operated the Maroon Bells shuttle service to the Maroon Bells National Recreation Area. Personal vehicle traffic is restricted between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM daily allowing access only to shuttles and those with special needs. The combined June and July 2003 ridership was over 40,000 passengers.

Park and Ride Lots - Highway 82, the main north-south roadway has eight P&R lots available to commuters. The lots range in size between 10 and 150 spaces. The neighboring Town of Snowmass hosts an aggressive intercept parking program in which perimeter parking lots are available to leave vehicles and use transit. The alternative to intercept parking in Snowmass is to buy a parking permit to park in the core area.

Employer-based Support Programs - The Transportation Options Program (TOP) is comprised of 32 businesses and over 6000 employees. Participating employers provide an employee transportation coordinator (ETC), nick-named TOP Dogs, to attend meetings and disseminate information to employees. TOP has also negotiated the creation of the Zone Pass with Roaring Fork Transit Association (RFTA), which enables individualized transit options to encourage employers to purchase transit passes for their employees. Other TOP incentives include schedule display boards, email traffic alerts, and monthly newsletters. TOP is operated on funds from the paid parking program. All TOP services are free.

Parking Incentive Programs -The paid parking program, Pay and Display, has been implemented with the highest rates charged downtown. One Pay and Display ticket covers the entire block with a maximum of two hour parking. Aspen also has traditional parking meters. Money generated from Aspen parking programs is applied directly towards other transportation management programs.

Marketing - Find Another Way Day is an annual marketing campaign to encourage commuters to try another mode of travel. For the last 7 years, the City of Aspen has sponsored this event to encourage people to leave their car at home and use another means to get around town or commute to work. Find Another Way Day events include entertainment, food, prizes and free bicycle safety checks. In 2001, a Customer Appreciation event was also added to Find Another Way Day to enable citizen’s not living and working near the downtown core area to participate. In 2003, the event became Find Another Way Week with daily events happening throughout the Valley. In 2002, the City implemented “Carpool Patrol” in cooperation with local radio stations by interviewing and giving prizes to carpoolers who stopped at the kiosk.

A Decade of Success
The City of Aspen has designated one full-time individual to demand-side programs. The program is evaluated yearly and considers a documented goal and outcome plan. Aspen has found it fruitful to track quantifiable measures of effectiveness such as the number of transit passed sold, Carpool Parking Permits distributed and traffic volumes as well as performing annual reviews with their employer participants to ensure that their needs are being met. Each year, specific goals are outlined and later the outcome is documented.

The programs highlighted above have collectively but not exclusively contributed to achieving transportation goals. As of 2003, revenue generated from the paid parking program generated $600,000 for program support and $300,000 for future transit investment. This program is also attributed with reducing parking occupancy downtown by 10%. The City has also displayed flexibility with their programs to ensure that goals are met. For example, in 2003, parking rates were increased to cover higher transit costs as well as to preserve the parking occupancy rates downtown. In 2003, the City of Aspen became the first and only city in the nation to be awarded best workplace for commuter status by the US EPA. The City’s program also received the 2003 Outstanding Service Award from the Association for Commuter Transportation.


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