DENVER (CBS4) – As more ski resorts start turning on their lifts for the season, a new state law allows ridesharing apps to launch and helps reduce traffic in the mountains.
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âWe really connect people,â said Lizzie Templeton, Founder of Caravan, a carpooling application. “It is all the same the same common objective in the end, it is to reduce traffic, to reduce congestion, even in parking lots.”
Caravan is one of two apps recently registered with the Colorado Department of Transportation. Treadshare is the other app that hopes to match drivers with passengers traveling to the same resort from similar parts of the Front Range.
âYou select the station, you go to your departure time from Denver or Boulder, regardless of your departure address. And then the time you plan to leave the mountain and come back, âTempleton said of the app.
The idea for Templeton began in 2018 while living in Denver.
âI would leave a building with some friends. And I saw at the exact same time that I was leaving probably 20 people with ski equipment all getting down to their cars leaving at exactly the same time. We look around in the car, isn’t that one person per car for every car around us, âshe said. âWe all start in the same place. We are all going to the same place. And we all come back to the same place within 20 minutes. “
There was just a problem with her idea of ââlaunching an app that would connect people, she didn’t know how to write the software code. She submitted her carpooling app idea to a programming class at Northwestern University. The students helped develop the app for free. Currently, Caravan is a non-profit organization and does not charge a fee for connecting people to the app. It was set to launch last winter, but state law and COVID have held back plans.
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âThe law treated (ridesharing apps) the same way we call transportation network companies, so Uber and Lyft,â said Time Hoover, spokesperson for CDOT.
Lawmakers saw the benefit of connecting strangers who wanted to cut back on solo travel on ski days. The law was changed to allow ridesharing apps to work without paying approximately $ 112,000 to the Utilities Commission.
âIf people use it, especially in that I-70 ski lane, it can ease some traffic jams and bring people together,â Hoover said. âYou reduce the number of vehicles that exist and thus reduce the amount of carbon emissions. “
Caravan allows drivers and passengers to create profiles and log into the app where they can talk about logistics. It is not regulated like ridesharing apps which may have a slightly higher level of security. Many believe that ridesharing apps will help on busy highways, but users should act in their best interests.
âThey have to use caution and due diligence to get into another person’s car,â Hoover said.
Templeton says most registrations on the app start with a driver’s license, and more personal information is available to make passengers feel comfortable with drivers. Social media accounts can be linked so that people can search for other people who might share common interests or live close to each other.
âI see someone zero miles away, that probably means they’re in my building. And I open their Instagram and they have a lot of similar hobbies, maybe this is someone I would ask them to lead. It would text them, they would open the app and accept or reject me as a passenger, âshe said.
No one expects this to revolutionize ski traffic on weekends, but many lawmakers and transport officials see it as a huge help in getting more single occupant vehicles off the road.
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âI would really love to hear good comments and experiences from the people who rideshare so that we can use this in the years to come,â Templeton said.