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City of Aspen Reduces Congestion and Peak Occupancy Through Data-Driven Policy

Updated: Feb 11, 2020

The challenge

The City of Aspen's static pricing structure did not account for the extreme demand fluctuation during on-peak season. Peak occupancy was 50% during off-peak and 100% during the busy summer period. As demand swelled during the summer, residents and tourists encountered frustrating traffic congestion and difficulty finding open parking spaces.


  • Keep parking prices low in off street facilities and periphery zones to incentivize parkers

  • Implement a Drive-Less ad campaign and measure the impact

  • Promote the use of We-Cycle, a shared city bike program

  • Increase parking prices by 50% during the peak summer season and use the incremental revenue to fund a free door-to-door, on demand electric shuttle service

Results at a glance

  • Peak occupancy decreased by 12.5%

  • Revenue increased by 26.1%

  • Parking turnover and commuting increased

  • Visitors and residents spent less time looking for parking

  • More vehicles parked in off-street facilities and in the periphery

Aspen and Smarking partnered to study the seasonal swings in demand and to identify policy solutions. After onboarding the City of Aspen’s meter and mobile payments data onto the Smarking BI system, the fluctuation in demand per season became apparent.

Using data visualizations, Mitch Osur, Director of Parking at the City of Aspen, initiated a 3 month parking demand management pilot to help manage the intense demand in the core and distribute parker’s overall available inventory.

The general strategy was to increase prices in the core and use the incremental revenue to fund alternative transportation methods.

By using the data visualizations generated by Smarking, Mitch was able clearly illustrate to interested stakeholders that the policy action in place was designed to promote the growth of a healthy, sustainable, and thriving downtown core.

“Smarking gives us the ability to measure and graphically display - with data - the exact results of our programs and initiatives. With Smarking, it became significantly easier to communicate to the public, city council, and the media what our city’s goals are and why we took the action we did.”
Mitch Osur, Parking Director, The City of Aspen, CO

Measuring results

Using the Smarking system, the City of Aspen was able to carefully track and measure the results of the program against the stated goals:

Goal: Decrease peak occupancy by 10%.

Results: Peak occupancy decreased by 12.5%.

Goal: Increase core parking revenue by 25% to fund alternative travel programs and a drive less campaign.

Results: Revenue increased by 26.1%.

YOY changes

As new data was being generated, Mitch and his team were able to use Smarking to compare real-time results with historical data to evaluate the program:

  • Peak parking occupancies in the core decreased

  • Visitors and residents spent less time looking for parking

  • Parking turnover increased

  • More vehicles parked in off-street facilities and in the periphery

  • Parking revenues increased

'Drive less', downtowner and policy success

Aspen’s ‘Drive-Less Program’ offered willing participants a variety of incentives including bike-share passes, bike tune-ups, and bus passes in exchange for a pledge to drive less. Over 800 residents took advantage of the program.

Aspen also found success with the ‘Downtowner’ shuttle program. During the 3 month period, the Downtowner had over 10,000 passengers and nearly 5,000 rides driven. With new travel options and parking policy changes, parking demand shifted from on-street parking in the core to off-street parking and periphery zones.

The following results were observed during the 3-month period:

  • Occupancy in Aspen’s large off-street Rio Grande Parking Garage increased by 15%

  • Carpooling in Aspen increased by 10%

  • Number of cars parked at commuter lots outside the city core increased by 20%

From start to finish the messaging behind the policy initiatives was transparent and data-driven. Aspen is raising parking prices to relieve congestion and promote the growth of a healthy and sustainable downtown.

Beyond the metrics outlined above, businesses in downtown Aspen had their best summer ever, with sales tax proceeds increasing 20% in June and 17% over the course of the summer.

By all measures the pilot was a massive success and the Aspen City Council elected to convert the pilot into policy. The summer increase in prices in the downtown core is now permanent and has been expanded to cover both the peak winter and summer seasons.

To learn more about parking management in the City of Aspen, please feel free to contact Mitch Osur, Parking Director at


About Smarking

Smarking is a team of data scientists, PhDs, engineers, and business professionals who set out on a journey to bring cutting edge solutions to the parking world. Frustrated by the stagnation of data analytics and yield management technologies in parking, the Smarking team is working to make the lives of parking professionals and parkers easier by bring innovation to this $50 billion global industry.


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