When it comes to peak-time travel and Interstate 70 issues, skiers and snowboarders who hold season passes tend to be the most informed travelers from the Front Range, according to a recent study from the I-70 Coalition.
The new data may have pin-pointed the perfect target audience for efforts aimed at changing driver habits to reduce peak-time traffic on the corridor.
"The overarching finding is that season pass holders are a ready audience for us to effect some behavior change," said Margaret Bowes, a program coordinator for the I-70 Coalition.
Season pass holders are more likely than day-pass purchasers to check information sources for up-to-date traffic information before they make the trip to the mountains and had more information about ongoing projects on the corridor, such as the planned widening of eastbound Twin Tunnel, according to the study.
They also tend to be flexible about travel times and more likely to plan their commute from Denver to avoid peak time traffic, the study indicated.
Of the study respondents who owned a season pass, 66 percent said they frequently arrive early at resorts during the ski season and leave early to avoid traffic, compared with only 44 percent of non-pass holders. Half of pass holders who participated in the study also said they will stay overnight at or near resorts, and 48 percent said they ski or ride during the week to miss the weekend congestion.
Targeting the audience
The data indicate a long-discussed proposal to reduce the peak-season traffic through the corridor by simply encouraging drivers to stay off the highway during the busiest times might have some traction if targeted at the right audience.
Members of the I-70 Coalition, an alliance of stakeholders from communities along the corridor, intend to begin working with local resorts to send a specific message to Front Range visitors who hold season passes.
The study looked at skier and snowboarder attitudes on a number of different travel-related issues. It is the first time officials have had hard numbers to help indicate driver attitudes toward issues on the I-70 corridor, Bowes said.
"It just helps us understand the users of this corridor a little more and what makes them tick," Colorado Department of Transportation engineer Peter Kozinsky said of the study. "We want to try and provide solutions that are somewhat tailored to people who use it."
The study included an intercept survey of people who use the Dinosaur park-n-ride lots in Morrison - who on the weekends tend to be skiers and snowboarders carpooling to get to the resorts - as well as 445 members of the Colorado Snowsports Enthusiasts Panel. The carpoolers surveyed at the Dinosaur Lots were also reasonably well tapped into I-70 traffic information, with 64 percent indicating they use sources like CoTrip.org and 511.
The majority of carpoolers, 86 percent, share rides to the mountains to save on gas and resort parking, according to study results, but they showed only moderate interest in the idea of using public transit to get to the mountains.
Only 13 percent of Dinosaur Lot respondents said they were "very likely" to use a ski van or bus.
If funds are available, the I-70 Coalition will conduct a similar study next winter.
"We would like to repeat this next year," Bowes said. "Then we'll be able to see are we moving the needle."