Survey says downtown Denver employees prefer transit passes to parking spaces. Reality paints a different picture.

Downtown Denver’s nearly 124,000 employees are taking transit at almost the same rate that they’re driving alone, according to The 2016 Downtown Denver Commuter Survey.

staff photo
RTD commissioned new MallRide buses. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

RTD commissioned new MallRide buses. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

Downtown Denver’s nearly 124,000 employees are stepping into buses, light rails and other public transportation options to get to work at almost the same rate that they’re driving alone, according to The 2016 Downtown Denver Commuter Survey.

In September and early October, the Downtown Denver Partnership asked more than 7,500 people who work downtown, “How did you get to work today?” Most people (40.3 percent) responded they drove alone followed by 39.6 percent who said they use transit, the survey results released Thursday show.

Last year was the first time in five years the number of commuters driving alone passed the number of people taking transit, according to the partnership.

“We are seeing a similar trend in other surveys in terms of the increase in number of people driving alone. Some factors that may contribute to this over the past year in Denver are low gas prices and a strong economy,” said Brea Olson, spokeswoman for the Downtown Denver Partnership.

Interestingly, when workers were asked, “How do you get to work MOST days of the week?” the respondents who said they took public transit (43.3) was actually higher than those who said they drove alone (38.3).

“We have found that people tend to over-represent or are optimistic in their responses to ‘most days’ especially in terms of how much they take transit vs. drive alone,” Olson said.

The Downtown Denver Partnership is focused on promoting and advocating for the heart of Denver. The group hopes to cut the number of commuters using what the cool kids call single-occupancy vehicles to less than 35 percent by 2021. The group plans to talk more about how it plans to do that during its forum Feb. 15.

“It’s imperative we work closely with employers and transportation providers to encourage employees to consider alternative modes of transportation in order to achieve our goal to create a truly multi-modal center city,” said Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, in a statement.

When an employer offers a transit pass a part of their benefits package, employees are 67 more likely to use transit and 28 percent less likely to drive alone, according to the survey. That finding is line with the statistic from the survey that most workers (87 percent) find a transit pass as valuable or very valuable.

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