An $800,000 mistake in waiting
Under the fig leaf of reducing cars in Aspen, we are poised to subsidize a multibillion-dollar company with $800,000? Do we get stock options with that?
1. Rideshare does not reduce vehicular traffic — anywhere. If it’s successful, it increases the number of vehicles.
2. Rideshare has about five drivers in the valley. We have no drivers because there isn’t any money in it. Want to increase the number of drivers? Have our 300 city staff take one rideshare a week. I can give you coupons.
3. Rideshare does not reduce your carbon footprint (see point No. 1). If you want to reduce the carbon footprint, subsidize some electric cars with that $800,000 for the police force, for existing delivery services; gift the down payment to 800 lucky Aspen citizens for their first electric car. (Have an EV lottery instead of a housing lottery. Any one of these would reduce our carbon footprint.)
4. Airports, airports, airports. It’s about the airports, and if you really want to reduce the number of cars during ski season, you will take one of those mini buses and start direct bus service from baggage claim to Aspen. Next, open communication among Grand Junction, Eagle, Denver International and Aspen airport transit authorities whenever there is an airport closure to stop “dead heading,” aka one-way trips and returning to Aspen empty.
5. High-volume events like X Games, New Year’s Eve and Food & Wine bring in rideshare drivers (mostly from Denver), drivers without local business licenses and without local knowledge (hilarity ensues when they try and use GPS in the Roaring Fork Valley). That’s where your new drivers come from, places with a lower cost of living, just like the rest of the service industry, which means — you guessed it — more traffic.
Rideshare is a free-market business model and to date only successful in a high-volume urban 24/7/365 environment. We are a rural resort with a seasonal economy and marginal connectivity, and chances of having enough empirical data to find trends for our economy are slim to none. Do not try to shovel an $800,000 metro model into an Aspen-sized sack.
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January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This multi-billion-dollar industry proliferates largely due to ignorance and policies that allow it to flourish.