About 70% of the city’s workers drive a single-occupancy vehicle to get to work, a notable rise over prior years, according to the preliminary results from a 2022 city survey of about 900 employees.

“Part of that is just a significant reduction in transit use that we can certainly say is related to Covid but also to our declining RTD service levels in the city,” Chris Hagelin, a senior transportation planner, told the Transportation Advisory Board earlier this week.

The final results of the survey are expected to be released in September, Hagelin said. But the brief presentation to the volunteer board this week is an indication that the city is struggling to address some of its most pressing issues.

The cost of housing is often cited as one of the reasons so many people have to commute into Boulder for work. And the lack of infrastructure to make cyclists feel safe riding to work is one reason why people may opt to drive a car rather than risk it on the roads.

About 80% of the city’s non-resident workers drive a car to work, a number that has held steady over the last two decades. That compares to about 53% for workers who live in Boulder, a “statistically significant increase” over the prior survey in 2017, when about 47% of workers reported commuting by car, according to Hagelin. Car commuting across the Front Range brings more ozone and greenhouse gas pollution.

Since 1991, when the city began surveying employees on how they get to work, the percentage of people who drove to work has steadily declined. Overall, more people rode their bikes or took the bus to get to work. That trend reversed in 2022, when the last survey was completed. For non-resident workers, for instance, bus ridership was 6% in 2017. It plummeted last year to about 1%.

About 13% of Boulder’s workers reported they were working from home on the day they took the survey. By comparison, in 2017, it was about 4%.

“Of course, telework, where a trip is not taken, is great for our greenhouse gas emissions,” Hagelin said. “Some in our business community might not appreciate the impact on sales,” however, he noted.

The preliminary results of the survey leave many questions unanswered. The final and more detailed report is expected to be published in September, Hagelin said.

Join the Conversation


  1. Until transit is quicker and more accessible than car travel, people will drive. We need to improve transit service and offer major incentives for alternative modes of travel (i.e. bike subsidies), otherwise our roads will choke and crumble under the increased usage.

  2. Has Boulder made any progress having their own bus service from Denver/Longmont/Lyons? They were discussing that at one point. RTD has not been able to to make bus travel reliable, convenient and a nice experience. I’m hoping Boulder creates their own lines that run more often and treat their drivers well.

  3. Boulder’s local bus service is silly and too infrequent. Why have the 204, it just connects completely unrelated neighborhoods. No one goes from 19th Street in North Boulder to Table Mesa and Broadway via Moorehead. Frequent and short lines are needed.

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