Full Title: Door-To-Downtown How Boulder, Colorado, Tested The Future Of Mobility
Author(s): Edward Klock-Mccook & Robert Mcintosh
Publisher(s): Rocky Mountain Institute
Publication Date: 05/2017
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Boulder, Colorado, like many cities around the United States, faces a growing challenge. Urbanization has revitalized city centers, but it comes with a price— increased difficulty accessing the very amenities that are driving the urban renaissance. At the same time, building more infrastructure (e.g., parking and roads) is expensive, consumes real estate that could be put to better use, and ultimately only induces more demand. What’s more, new infrastructure could well become a stranded asset in the near future as the coming mobility revolution portends that the age of cities built to support personal vehicles is coming to an end.
Because of these myriad factors, Boulder chose to take a bold step toward the future and improve access to downtown by adding to the “menu of mobility options” without building a single parking space or adding a single lane-mile. Door-to-Downtown, or d2d, as it was popularly known in the community, was created as a true public-private partnership and offered local residents the opportunity to travel to and from downtown using door-to-door mobility services at a price that was competitive with driving and parking their personal vehicles. This price point is important because, according to recent research by Rocky Mountain Institute, door-to-door service prices will fall over the next several years and become much more competitive with private vehicle use. As a result, Boulder tested the demand and effectiveness of tomorrow’s mobility system, today.
Over the course of the 11-week program, registrants totaled more than 6 percent of Boulder’s adult population, and nearly 2,500 inbound trips were taken. Although the pilot operated seven days per week, the trips were concentrated on Friday, with an average of 60 trips—the very day when parking is often the most challenging in downtown Boulder. An average of 1.8 passengers were in each vehicle, and customers rated d2d’s ease of use at 4.5 out of 5 compared with driving and parking themselves. Passengers spent an average of $87 per person while downtown.
This initial pilot was designed to target downtown retail and restaurant patrons using a streamlined rapid-prototype approach. The lessons learned will be invaluable when designing future mobility programs that aim to serve ever-larger customer segments. For example, opportunities exist for downtown commuting as well as commuting and retail passengers in other areas of Boulder. Additionally, electric vehicles could be integrated into the system, and they could possibly even be powered by locally generated renewable energy.
The future of mobility is just around the corner, and d2d is an excellent example of how communities can prepare for that future today, while avoiding expensive investments that may well be outdated long before the end of their useful life. As urban cores continue to attract businesses, residents, and visitors, access will be an increasing challenge. Finding innovative solutions that preserve the very amenities driving that vitality will create a virtuous cy