Lone Tree has championed a program that is being touted for its innovative transit service and is already being mimicked by cities in the state and across the country. When the Lone Tree Link On …
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Lone Tree has championed a program that is being touted for its innovative transit service and is already being mimicked by cities in the state and across the country.
When the Lone Tree Link On Demand shuttle service comes to full force Feb. 4, the program will provide a more complete service allowing users to request a ride, similar to Uber or Lyft, to and from anywhere in the city. The pilot program closed on Dec. 28.
Lone Tree stands out among communities implementing the on-demand shuttle service. The city’s size – about 1,547 people per square mile – and the demand from residents to travel throughout the city combine to make on-demand micro-transit more essential to the city than a typical bus or shuttle service, according to city economic development director Jeff Holwell.
"There’s still a demand for mobility, but it’s not the big buses, it’s a micro-transit solution," Holwell said. "On Demand is proving to be the most efficient use of resources. What we've done with our pilot program was to learn if it even worked, learn if there was deamnd, and there clearly was demand."
The program is designed specifically to serve residents in and around Lone Tree through the heavy traffic that frequents the city from motorists passing through or commuting to work. Boxed in by traffic from C-470 to the north and west and I-25 to the east, Lone Tree sees thousands of commuters pass through every day, creating a routine traffic jam. Holwell said the On Demand may not fix that problem, but it will allow residents another option of public transportation if they choose not to battle the traffic in their cars, or for seniors or teenagers unable to drive.
Residents can request a ride through an app on their phone. The service will be free to use to residents.
The city is in the middle of finalizing a contract with a company to facilitate the program. Uber had been the city's partner throughout the pilot phase and paid for virtually the entire program. The fully implemented Link On Demand system will be paid for by the city, about $250,000 a year.
The On Demand program has already been touted across the country for its innovative mix of public transportation and e-hailing services. In October, Denver launched its own pilot program for an on-demand shuttle service around the Cherry Creek, Capitol Hill and Civic Center neighborhoods. Cities like Seattle and Sacramento, California, also launched pilot on-demand shuttle services in 2018.
The Lone Tree Link Circulator shuttle system began as a simple service for workers and residents in south Lone Tree to and from RTD light rail's Lincoln Station to the RidgeGate neighborhood. It launched shortly after the city's — and Douglas County's — largest private employer opened its doors in RidgeGate, Charles Schwab.
The Link Circulator served as a bridge service to the additional light rail stops and the new On Demand shuttle service. Now, the Link Circulator is in its last month of service. On Feb. 4, the Link On Demand system, will be fully implemented. Come spring, the final three light rail stations will reach to RidgeGate as well.
According to a release from the city, following the conclusion of the Link On Demand pilot program that ended Dec. 28, the city will make improvements to the program through data and feedback collected during the pilot phase.
The most significant change will come with the utilization of two shuttles instead of one. The new vendor for the program, which remained nameless at the time of publication due to in-progress contract negotiations, will better calibrate the ride-sharing aspect to make the new On Demand system more efficient, Holwell said. Waiting time between bus arrivals was the most common complaint residents had regarding the program.
In a report released in October, the Link On Demand provided 13,000 rides since August, 2017. Holwell said the program provided about 40 to 50 rides per day.
“We've been very pleased with what we learned in our pilot program and are excited that we can move it now into full implement and provide in a better, more customer-friendly way to the Lone Tree community,” Holwell said.
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