City of Aspen officials want to have more parking available in front of shops and businesses downtown. As Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher reports, it appears to be working.
Officials are trying out a combination of ways to get people to drive less. Those efforts include increasing downtown parking fees and paying for perks like bike share passes to reward people for driving less. The city is also covering the cost for electric shuttles.
About one month in, Aspen Parking Director Mitch Osur said Tuesday that results are positive.
“I’ve gotten feedback from people that I know that … said to me last week, ‘I never like coming to Aspen, I hate driving, [but] I had to drive to town, and … there was a parking spot for me. ’ ”
Fees in the downtown core are now up to more than $40 a day.
Osur said the three-pronged effort has resulted in parking in Aspen’s core going down an average of about 15 percent. That translates into more than one empty space per block. More people are parking in the Rio Grande garage and in residential areas.
As of last week, the fee increase has added up to about $35,000. The vast majority has been spent on Aspen’s Drive Less program, with that money going towards gift cards at bike shops, bike sharing memberships, and discounted RFTA passes.
The fee increase has raised sharp criticism over whether Aspen officials are punishing workers by charging more for parking.