First-ever Mountain Rideshare Day debuts for I-70 ski resorts
CDOT Mountain Rideshare Day
Basics: Carpool commuters from across the state enjoy deals, discounts and free parking at resorts along the Interstate 70 mountain corridor.
When: Saturday, Feb. 7
Save: Drop by the guest services office at your favorite resort to pick up a rideshare wristband or visit the Dinosaur Lots in Morrison for wristbands, free tire checks, raffle prizes, and pick-up services from Colorado Mountain Express ($16.50 one way, per person for Summit County resorts).
Arapahoe Basin — Discounted lift tickets and carpooler spots in the Early Riser lot.
Breckenridge — Parking discount of $5 for carpools with four or more people.
Copper — Half-price appetizer at Endo’s Adrenaline Cafe, Jack’s Slopeside Grill and Bar, or JJ’s Tavern. Also free parking in the Chapel Lot for carpools with four or more licensed drivers, or in the Triple Treat Lot for carpools with three or more drivers.
Keystone — Premier parking section in River Run Free Lot for carpools with four or more people (no licensed driver requirement).
Loveland — Discounted adult beverage for Front Range Ski Bus riders.
Winter Park — Half-price appetizer and Coors draft
The Colorado Department of Transportation wants to make carpooling cool again.
Or, more accurately, CDOT wants to make carpooling cool for perhaps the first time, and it all begins by getting cozy with complete strangers.
This Saturday, CDOT launches the first-ever Mountain Rideshare Day, an event custom-made for weekend warriors who regularly battle ski season traffic. The organization has partnered with six ski resorts along the Interstate 70 corridor to offer front-row parking, discounted lift tickets and the occasional free beer to carpoolers.
Throughout the day, the Dinosaur Lot in Morrison will be party central for the shareride set, with food trucks, raffle drawings and complimentary tire checks. It will also become a makeshift transit station for powder hounds traveling with Colorado Mountain Express and Front Range Ski Bus, both of which will offer one-day-only discount rates and lift tickets on Saturday.
But the event isn’t made solely for Front Rangers. Summit County locals can get in on the act too: Anyone who drives to a partner resort with four or more passengers is privy to the discounts.
For CDOT partners like Way to Go, a Denver commuter service that provides 2014 Chevy Traverse sedans to carpool groups, the rideshare day is more than a one-off event. It’s an effort to raise awareness about ski season carpooling and the ever-increasing demand on the I-70 corridor, not to mention carbon dioxide emissions.
The stats are there: According to data from a CDOT release, roughly 30,000 cars pass through both bores of the Eisenhower Tunnel on an average winter weekend, the majority of which carry fewer than three passengers. If each vehicle transported four people instead, nearly 10,000 fewer cars would clog the interstate.
Then there’s the cash factor. Using a recent AAA travel study, Way to Go marketing director Colleen Miller says the average ski trip from Denver to Silverthorne costs a driver more than $75, and that figure only incudes gas and regular maintenance — not outside charges like parking and lift tickets.
“First of all, (carpooling) can definitely save money,” Miller says. “More people care about saving money and convenience than the environment. But for us, as long as we get cars off the road and reduce the amount of single-occupant vehicles, it’s a step in the right direction.”
THE CARPOOL CREW
Mountain Rideshare Day is the newest program with CDOT’s Change your Peak Drive Campaign, an initiative built to ease wintertime traffic on I-70. This season alone, the campaign has led to the rideshare day, Way to Go’s new I-70 SkiPool program and a slew of statewide educational efforts.
“It comes back to innovative things we’ve been trying this year on the corridor,” CDOT spokeswoman Tracy Trulove says. The thing we’ve learned about the educational campaigns and rideshares is you have to find a way to incentivize people. This was just another way to get people excited about ridesharing.
Along with ski resorts like Keystone, Breckenridge and Copper, CDOT has reached out to web-based ridesharing services like SkiCarpool.org. The websites are similar to social media — some even predate Facebook — and pair passengers with drivers through online travel profiles. If carpooling is going to become the cool new form of ski season travel, it starts with technology.
“Carpooling has been around for decades, but I think technology is making it much easier than before to find a ride and connect with other people,” Trulove says. “You can go on a website and sign up with other people who are heading the same direction you are. We just want to find ways to capitalize on all these technologies.”
For Margaret Bowes, program manager for the travel policy group I-70 Coalition, says the Mountain Rideshare Day is a welcome addition to CDOT’s winter traffic lineup. She meets quarterly with I-70 ski resorts and other organizations to battle congestions on the interstate and at the resorts. Carpooling doesn’t just benefit commuters — she also believes it can ease congestion in Breckenridge parking lots and along the Silverthorne/Dillon business district.
“We have a close working relationship with our resorts,” says Bowes, who mentions that most ski resorts already offer free or preferred parking for carpool commuters. “We talk about how they can be part of the I-70 solution and carpooling incentive programs are something most of those resorts do to mitigate the congestion issue. They are incredibly good partners for the coalition.”
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