In August this year a local radio station, 850 KOA, conducted the “Bumper2Bumper” survey that asked Colorado tax payers about what they thought about their daily commutes. The survey covered all aspects of driving:
Time spent in traffic
Amount of miles commuted daily
Phone use while driving
Substance use while driving
And of course… Public transit
I figure no matter where you live, there will always be complaints about getting around town. Californians certainly dread driving through LA traffic! I can’t tell you how many times my friends who drive talk about how people don’t know how to drive in the snow. Both arguments make me sigh in relief, I don’t have to put up with that crap.
There were three aspects of the survey where people overwhelming agreed with one another. The first being about driving up to the mountains. According to 850 KOA, “84% say they’ve avoiding using I-70 in the mountains on weekends because of traffic issues.” 84% is huge! Another whopping amount said that the roads needed a little tender love and care. The winter sure beats up the roads which doesn’t make it any easier to get somewhere fun, like the mountains.
When I moved here from California I was hoping to do a lot of snowboarding. Every winter up until I moved here my family and I would go up to Big Bear, sometimes Mammoth, to have a fun day of skiing. We always went to the mountains as a family, so not being able to drive wasn’t ever an issue. The beautiful mountains here in Colorado was a main motivation for me to pick CU Boulder for college. I figured I would meet plenty of people who enjoyed skiing and I would get to go snowboarding every weekend.
The dorm I lived in freshman year was full of introverts just like me. After a month into school, the women on my floor finally cracked open their doors and I got to know some of them. Nobody skied or was interested in learning how to. I decided to venture out and find a group of people who would be interested in going to the mountains for a fun day of skiing. I did find a few people, but there were some strong arguments for not going up to the mountains every weekend.
First of all, it is freshman year! Nobody has a car on campus! In order to get up to where the good snow is, you need one. Secondly, when I did finally meet people who liked to go up to the mountains, they liked to skip school on Friday to beat the traffic up there. I was Miss Goodie Two Shoes and never wanted to miss class, so I missed my ride up there.
I was pretty bummed out about all of that. The traffic to get up to Big Bear was a pain too, so I could see the reasoning behind complaining about i70. It seemed like if you make the trip up there, you mind as well make it a weekend and find somewhere to stay. Broke college kids can’t really afford a cabin for the weekend. I came to the realization that getting to the mountains for a day was harder than I had anticipated before moving to Colorado.
Speaking of missing out on a ride up to the mountains, the survey also said, “traffic is affecting our Colorado quality of life: 44% say they missed an important event because of traffic.” Skiing isn’t as important as a business meeting or catching a flight out of DIA, still it is something that I enjoy. Unfortunately, my support circle who helps me out with rides wants nothing to do with i70 on the weekends during ski season. Even in the summer, the traffic can be bad with weekend campers.
If skiers and boarders don’t want to deal with i70, RTD has a bus that goes to Eldora, a local resort 20 miles from Boulder. But there is literally just that one bus that leaves only from downtown Boulder. Eldora is a great mountain, I went to there on a ski trip with the Alumni Association. However, it is very much the same as Big Bear. There are no local RTD bus routes to get to the big resorts; Breckenridge, Aspen, Arapahoe Basin, etc…
There is a private shuttle company, Colorado Mountain Express, that can get you up to these major resorts. The shuttle picks up at DIA, the convention center downtown, or half way up the mountain on i70 at the Wooly Mammoth Park-n-Ride. Rides to these resorts can cost anywhere between $39-$49. But get this! According to the survey, “82% said they never use public transit. Just over 3% said they used transit once a week or more. More than 2% used transit every day.”
So there you have it, Colorado is full of complainers! Just kidding. If we are working together to create less traffic, less pollution and better roads, public transportation needs a little face lift. Rather than personally fight the i70 traffic from a car, catching an accommodating bus up to the mountains would definitely motivate more people to use i70, Getting up early and spending all day skiing exhausting! From always being the passenger and never the driver, I must say it feels pretty good to take a little cat nap on the trip back home.
I guess the point I am trying to make comes back to the old saying, “You can’t always have your cake and eat it too.” Having a car is much easier than dealing with figuring out bus routes. But it could be the same reason you may miss an event or choose to miss an event because of traffic and poor road conditions. The bus is available, the survey just confirmed that nobody uses it.