What’s your way? Football fans arrive via multiple modes

After years planning so that major city streets would not be in gridlock on the day of a Ram home game, the first two games point to a transportation success. More than 50 percent of attendees arrived on campus via something other than a car, choosing a form of alternative transportation for game-day because of an effort ushered in through a strong partnership between city and university planners.

From the beginning of stadium construction, CSU and City of Fort Collins staff imagined a symphony of multi-modal arrivals to a game, a carefully planned, thoughtful facilitation of mix of pedestrians, bikes, buses, and vehicles.

An informal survey of fans arriving to the first two games showed that:

  • About 20 percent of all game day attendees used some type of transit: a bus, on-campus shuttle or MAX.
  • MAX, which ran about every three minutes instead of on its regular 10-minute interval schedule, and the West Elizabeth routes were the heaviest used transit routes, accounting for the chosen mode of 15 percent of attendees, with the balance being attributed to other Transfort routes and shuttles.
  • Attendees also used Uber, Lyft and privately rented buses at rates higher than anticipated, accounting for another 16 percent of game-day attendees choice.
  • An informal count tallied 2,700 bikes on campus, not including bikes likely owned by students parked at residence halls, during the second home game.

“We’re still learning as the season progresses,” said Aaron Fodge, alternative transportation manager for CSU. “We’re pleased with how transportation looked for those coming to these first games, but it’s not yet perfect; we ask for people’s patience as we identify issues and find solutions.”

One such concern is finding a way to facilitate faster boarding onto buses and shuttles after a game, Fodge said. And continuing to discourage visitors from locking their bikes to trees (which damages the trees, a prized university asset) and instead use one of the university’s 17,000 bike rack spaces or the free bike valet station near the Education Building.

Even though the university and city will continue to work to keep game-day transportation fluid, all of the work pays off daily for university commuters, and the choice of fans to take buses, bikes or other modes to a game isn’t entirely surprising.

“The resultant modal split is not so different from what we experience daily on campus,” said Fred Haberecht, assistant director of Facilities Management.

The university invested heavily in infrastructure to support alternative transportation to and through campus for everyday commutes, as well as for game-day traffic. Among the investment are added bike racks and improved bike trails to and through university grounds. Two new underpasses providing easy access for bikers and pedestrians were heavily used on game day.

“We hope that fans will come early and experience the recent renaissance of the physical campus,” Haberecht said. “The university has invested in the future by creating great buildings and great spaces. And, our investment in transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, like the two new underpasses, make it easier to get to campus than it was in the past.”

As cold weather progresses, city and university planners anticipate that fewer people are likely to bike and walk long distances on game days. They expect that transit ridership will remain strong, with MAX especially continuing to be a mode of choice, along with a higher percentage of fans driving to campus and parking.

“We know that this inaugural season is one of learning for both attendees and staff.  People will develop their preference for mode and route, and we’ll refine our plans after each game,” said Martina Wilkinson, the assistant city traffic engineer. “We also know that travel patterns will adjust with change in weather, the team’s performance, or other factors such as evening kick off times.”

CSU is planning a formal evolution of feedback from game day attendees toward the end of the football season.