2018 Champion City

Boulder, CO : 2018 Champion City

Unlocking Access to Low Carbon Transport

  • 108,090

  • Suzanne Jones

  • Council Manager

    Type of Government
  • 2 years

    Length of Term
  • Mobility/Transportation

    Issue Area

The Problem

More than half of low- and middle-income residents depend on fossil-fuel, single-occupancy vehicles—in large part because more efficient and shared mobility alternatives are prohibitively expensive or not easily accessible resulting in unequal access to innovative mobility solutions.

The Idea

The City of Boulder will conduct multiple experiments – including ridesharing, subsidies, and an electric car loan program – to determine the most effective way to improve low-income residents’ mobility.

What Suzanne Jones, Mayor of Boulder, CO is saying:

Boulder recognizes that to effectively address climate change, everyone in our community needs to be able to participate in new clean energy and mobility paradigms.


Our Prototyping Journey

    Let's Go

  • Boulder will focus on increasing resilience by testing different interventions (subsidies, pre-paid debit cards, communication campaigns, pop-up simulations of using electric vehicles) and their ability to break down barriers to nudge residents toward sustainable mobility options.

    Our idea is that we are trying to crack the code of shared mobility for low income individuals by offering a suite of services that they can access.

    Julia Richman, Chief Innovation and Analytics Officer, Interim CIO
  • Ideas into action

  • What we're discovering through testing

    The Boulder team has been testing a new way to engage with its low-income residents through community ambassadors. These ambassadors, who come from the communities themselves, have helped build trust with residents, helped the city to avoid mistakes in their outreach efforts, and co-produced prototyping material. It’s proving to be a promising way to interact with residents. The rest of City Hall is watching this model develop and looking to emulate its success.

    One of the assumptions that the team was testing was that cost would be a primary driver for people when choosing their transportation. However, their tests to date have revealed that convenience is by far the greatest influencing factor. For example, many residents with young children said they wouldn’t even consider taking a bus.

  • Reflections

  • What we've done

    Boulder’s idea has evolved towards a network of “Community Connectors” who help them access shared, sustainable, and affordable transportation choices through a mix of incentives and information.

    What we found was that providing improved price or information alone, really wasn't moving the needle at all.

    Bill Skerpan, Innovation and Analytics

    When it came to shifting behavior, the team found that residents were most responsive to advice from others in their community. Having tried a series of interventions - such as offering residents discounts for bike or rideshare services and informing people how to use these platforms - the team found that far the most effective strategy was in-person events, particularly if these were run by community members who were already using new forms of transport.