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Denver unveils new on-demand public transit

The new shuttle service mimics Lyft and Uber.
Photo: Mailys Steiblen · The Sentry

An attempt to tackle parking congestion and traffic

The City of Denver launched a new on-demand public transit campaign on Oct. 26 in order to ease traffic and parking congestion in the Cherry Creek, Capitol Hill, and Civic Center neighborhoods.

Riders can access the 14-rider shuttle through the Chariot app that works similar to other ride-sharing apps such as Uber or Lyft. Riders simply pick a point for home, work, or wherever they need to go, and are then able to request a spot on the shuttle. Riders can then get picked up and dropped off near their selected points in the app according to the shuttle’s routes.

The service is in partnership with Chariot, a sector of Ford Motor Company, and will be available for free for all riders Fridays through Sundays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for a six-month trial run; one shuttle will be available for ADA accessibility.        

According to the City of Denver’s press release regarding the unveiling, Chariot CEO Dan Grossman stated, “Chariot is designed to help cities ease congestion and parking challenges in dense and busy neighborhoods like those in and around Cherry Creek.”

According to a report conducted by Inrix, as of 2017, Denver was ranked the 21st worst city in the country for traffic, out of 297 cities in the United States. Denver locals currently spend at least 36 hours a year stuck in traffic. 

However, some students remain apprehensive about the addition of the new transit option in Denver.

Third-year illustration major Sayaka Hatayama remains skeptical of a service that may not always remain free. “It’s cool they’re doing a free trial, but it seems that what they’re really doing is just finding more ways to make money. As a college student who doesn’t really need much from the area, it’s just not worth it when it’s a paid service,” Hatayama said. 

The launch of the new shuttle service is part of Denver’s Smart City program, from which the pilot trial is being funded $250,000 to initiate the shuttle program and Mobility Action Plan.

With the initiative, Denver plans to promote choice by giving citizens more options for transit and reduce single occupancy vehicles in Denver traffic by 50 percent; safety with the goal to have zero roadway fatalities by 2030; climate and health by promoting the use of electric vehicles and ride-sharing and reducing Denver’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050; and accessibility by utilizing more technology to make citizens’ trips effortless.

The City of Denver also stated that the kickstart program for “microtransit,” or a smaller privately-operated transit system in Denver, will be monitored by Denver Public Works to determine whether or not the program will fill the “first mile-last mile” conjunction between the Capitol Hill neighborhood and the Cherry Creek Shopping Center.

Mayor Hancock stated in the press release, “RTD is the foundation of our mass transit system and does a fantastic job, but we can’t sit back and expect RTD to solve all our transportation problems. Cities like Denver need to step up, take the initiative, and be more innovative to enhance or supplement the service our regional transit partner provides so well.” 

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