DENVER (Reuters) – Denver’s public transportation system has seen a steady increase in ridership since the beginning of the year and is the most popular form of transportation for residents of the city, according to a new study.
But it’s still a tough sell for most people, and some people have begun to turn to private vehicles.
“It’s definitely a challenging time for people in Denver, and the more people who are moving, the more likely it is that there will be a decline in the ridership,” said Tom McLean, director of Denver Public Transportation.
“But I think people should realize that the Denver Public Transit system is a very popular form that can make it a much better choice for them.”
Denver Public Transit data shows ridership at more than 50,000 riders per day in the first quarter of 2017, up slightly from 48,000 in the second quarter.
But it was down slightly from the first half of 2016.
Denver Public Transportation also recorded an increase in active ridership from 1.5 million in the quarter ended September 30, 2017, to 2.4 million in 2017.
“There are a lot of people who like to walk to work and just want to get to their destination,” said McLean.
“If they can get to the bus station and get on, that’s all they want.”
The study by the University of Colorado, Denver, found that a majority of Denver residents who were surveyed in the third quarter said they use public transit.
The study also found that 61 percent of respondents said they either use their own vehicle or rent a car.
“We’re seeing a lot more people using public transportation than before, and that’s good news,” said Michael Kline, director and co-founder of the Denver Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“If we’re going to have the ability to serve our community and our visitors and our businesses, we have to keep that transportation viable.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation, which oversees the Denver Metrobus system, did not respond to requests for comment.
The study found that Denver’s transit system is among the best in the country.
In its first year of operation, the Denver-area Metrobus network has seen more than 13 million riders, a rate of about 11,000 per day.
But ridership is expected to drop sharply in 2018.
McLean said ridership could drop as much as 25 percent over the next five years if ridership levels continue to rise at the same rate.
“What happens is the more we increase our capacity, the less we need to raise fares, and it’s just going to drive up the costs of those rides,” he said.
“People are getting to the point where they’re just not willing to take the extra step of taking the bus.”
McLean also said the region needs to make sure that people who don’t have the financial means to travel by bus do so, such as those who don and aren’t working.
“The more people we can get on a bus, the easier it will be to get from point A to point B, which means more people will have to walk,” he added.
“I’m not advocating for everybody to drive.
But if you have the money, I think you can make that happen.”
McCallas study also looked at a variety of public transit options including ride sharing, carpooling, walking and bike sharing.
In the first four months of 2018, ride sharing was used by roughly 3.5 percent of all drivers in Denver.
Carpooling was used on average about 6.5 times per day and walking about 1.3 times per week.
There were 1,890 carpool stops in the city.
“In the second half of 2018 and the first part of 2019, people are seeing the benefits of carpools,” said Kline.
“They’re having more time to get where they want to go, and they’re taking fewer trips on their car, and their car is doing a better job.”
The other big factor driving the increase in carpool usage is a shortage of parking spaces.
“You know that in New York City where you can park in a lot for a month, it costs $400 per month,” said Darryl Anderson, director at Denver-based transportation consulting firm Rideau Automotive.
“When it’s $200, it’s a good deal for people.
And they’re having a lot less money for things like grocery shopping, things like that.”