Aspen shifts into mobility lab app
A key component of the city of Aspen’s $2.5 million mobility lab aimed at reducing 800 cars from coming into town on a daily basis was rolled out Wednesday with a new app that gives incentives to motorists.
“It’s frequent flier miles for ground transportation,” Mayor Steve Skadron said.
The mobile app, called Miles, was launched as a beta test for city employees to try first. At the beginning of the year, the app will be available to select members of the public.
The more the app is used, the smarter it gets. The technology is based on algorithms and teaches itself behaviors of the user.
Miles automatically knows if someone is riding a bike, carpooling with others, taking a RFTA bus, walking, using WE-Cycle bike share or taking the free Downtowner transit vehicle.
Skadron used the Miles app walking from his house in Hunter Creek to the Aspen Recreational Center on Wednesday. The app tracked him and rewarded him 22 points. It also recognized that he rode in a car on his return.
The beta test is meant for users to report issues so the Miles tech team can work out the kinks before the official launch, which is slated for June.
The mobility lab, dubbed “Shift”, is designed to change people’s behaviors and entice them to try alternative modes of transit in order to reduce congestion at the entrance to Aspen.
The Miles app will incentivize commuters through two reward programs. Users can check the app to see how many miles they’ve earned and redeem rewards. They also will see the various transit options the city is offering.
“Foundational Rewards” are built into the Miles product and are designed for people to get excited about the app and check in regularly. Miles pays for the rewards with more than 30 national partners. Points can be earned for shopping, movie tickets and other items.
“Challenge Rewards” will be offered once a critical mass of single-occupancy vehicle users are enrolled and engaged with the app.
Those rewards are designed by the city, using gift cards and offers from local merchants — for very specific behaviors the local government wants to promote.
Local partners thus far are Ute Mountaineer, the Shell gas station at Local’s Corner, Poppycock’s, Radio and Explorer Booksellers.
Aspen City Council in August approved a $63,000 expenditure for the four-month test of the Miles app and data, enrollment promotion and local incentives.
The largest expenditure of next year’s budget for Shift is for transit options at the Brush Creek Intercept Lot, which includes increased bus service, passenger vans that take people to specific destinations with their dogs or tools and an in-town, transit-on-demand service.
Combined, along with new amenities at the Brush Creek lot including tables, umbrellas at waiting areas and coffee and food trucks, the “mobility” line item is estimated to cost nearly $1.3 million in 2019.
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The city of Aspen’s office building is exempt from paying encroachment fees, yet private developers have to now pay $9 a square foot, per month, starting in 2020.