At a recent study session the Boulder City Council discussed the impact of businesses on traffic and parking congestion as part of the ongoing effort to update the Transportation Master Plan. Boulder is a city in which 60 percent of the workforce commutes into town, mostly because of the high cost of housing. And the cost of housing, of course, is a result of the City’s policies.
However there does not seem to be any acknowledgement that the City is “reaping what it has sown.” Instead, it appears that the Council is considering putting more responsibilities on new and existing businesses. The City can require transportation demand management plans that require businesses to encourage workers to use alternative transportation – but it can’t make employees take the bus. That didn’t stop some members of Council from opining that the City should make those existing plans enforceable. One council member likes the idea of requiring workers to pay a special fee to park in private lots or satellite parking garages to shuttle workers into town.
The ongoing discussion of whether to offer a community-wide Eco pass also came up, with some Council members saying this benefit would motivate a majority of workers to use RTD. As one Council member noted however, Boulder doesn’t have the transit infrastructure that larger cites have and forcing more employees to utilize RTD would just create another problem, even if it were possible.
Boulder can’t have it both ways. A vibrant community needs economic development to pay for city services. How many new businesses would want to locate in Boulder if they had to require employees to take a shuttle to their workplace? The Transportation Master Plan calls for diverse transportation policies. Somehow, the idea of forcing employees to take the bus doesn’t sound equitable. Another Transportation Master Plan study session is scheduled for the fall.