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To see the full 2011 U.S. 36 Mobility Report, go to 36commutingsolutions.org.

The good news for those traveling the U.S. 36 corridor: There was a smaller percentage of single-occupancy vehicles on the highway each day last year than the year before.

The bad news: Nearly seven in 10 commuters -- 69.3 percent -- still hopped in their cars for a solo drive to and from work in 2011.

That trend, along with data indicating that transit use and carpooling were up slightly in the heavily traveled corridor last year, was outlined in the 2011 U.S. 36 Mobility Report, released Tuesday by 36 Commuting Solutions.

The organization's executive director, Audrey DeBarros, said her group is hoping to push a more "balanced" set of travel alternatives for the 150,000 commuters who hit the highway on an average day -- a number that is expected to double by 2035.

That effort starts with the U.S. 36 Express Lanes project, which began just over two weeks ago. The three-year project aims to add a managed lane for buses, high-occupancy vehicles and toll-paying motorists in each direction of the highway while also putting in place six bus rapid transit stations between Denver and Boulder.

The first phase of the Colorado Department of Transportation project, at a cost of $312 million, covers the distance between Federal Boulevard and 88th Street in Louisville and Superior. A second phase will bring managed lanes all the way to the Table Mesa park-n-Ride in Boulder.

"We are working as hard as we can to get additional funding to provide true bus rapid transit that will coincide with the opening of the U.S. 36 managed lanes project in 2015 so that we are maximizing transit ridership in the managed lanes," DeBarros said.

Some of the advantages of bus rapid transit over conventional bus service, she said, are greater frequency, more flexibility and greater ease in ticketing and real-time schedule notification at stations.

Last year, bus ridership on U.S. 36 was up only 0.1 percent over 2010 levels. Still, there were nearly 3 million transit trips on U.S. 36, reducing vehicle miles traveled by more than 37 million, according to the report.

DeBarros said 36 Commuting Solutions' most immediate focus would be on encouraging higher levels of shared driving among employees in the corridor over the next three years to reduce the number of vehicles traveling the highway while it is torn up.

"Our desire will be to expand carpooling and vanpooling at workplaces to mitigate congestion during the project," she said.

Boulder County Transportation Director George Gerstle said he was encouraged by the basic trend away from solo driving in the report's data but said getting more people out of their cars remains a high priority.

"It tells me we have a lot of work to do," he said. "There's going to be a lot of growth in the corridor, and we have to give people an alternative to congestion."

Gerstle said regardless of whether the Denver-to-Longmont Northwest Rail Line --beset by financial and logistical challenges -- gets built, residents in the northwest corridor should get behind bus rapid transit as the best alternative to rail. At least for now.

"Until rail is figured out, this is what we have," he said.

Gerstle said the report's showing that telecommuting rose from 6.9 percent to 7.6 percent of all commuters in the corridor -- for a total of nearly 11,500 people -- was intriguing. He said telecommuting could be used as a tool to redistribute travel times on the highway.

"That's something we should really be looking at to reduce peak hour travel," he said. "We could spread out demand on the road."

Boulder, Superior and Louisville had the highest levels of telecommuting -- with each community above 10 percent.

The U.S. 36 Mobility Report also showed Boulder with the highest rates of transit and bicycle use in the corridor, Westminster and Superior with the highest rates of carpooling, and Boulder with almost twice the percentage of Regional Transportation District Eco Pass users as Denver.

Contact Camera Staff Writer John Aguilar at 303-473-1389 or aguilarj@dailycamera.com.