By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4) – The City of Denver is gearing up to roll out a new “on-demand” public transit service on Thursday. The goal is to ease the parking problem and congestion in Cherry Creek, Capitol Hill and Civic Center neighborhoods.

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(credit: CBS)

“Customers love coming here, but one of the complaints that we often hear is parking is an issue,” Elanya Chin, an employee at the Artisan Center in Cherry Creek North, said.

Elanya said between ongoing construction in the popular shopping district, limited meters and permit spots, employees and shoppers alike loathe looking for a space to park.

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(credit: CBS)

“It’s just a huge issue people getting parking tickets,” she said. “A lot of our customers complain about that they’ll just run and run out and maybe they’re late [to their car] by two minutes, but they’ll already have a ticket.”

The city’s six-month pilot program aligns with Denver’s Mobility Action Plan and aims to “fill transit service gaps for retail, hospitality and service workers, as well as residents,” according to a press release from the city. Mayor Michael Hancock announced the $250,000 program – which is funded through the Denver Smart City plan – during his 2018 State of the City Address.

To get the City Shuttle program off paper and onto pavement, the city has contracted with Chariot, owned by Ford Motor Company. Beginning Thursday, riders can reserve a seat on one of three 14-passenger City Shuttle vans of their choice.

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(credit: CNN)

Chariot will offer service three days a week, running a custom designed route through Cherry Creek, Capitol Hill and Civic Center. During the six-month trial, City Shuttle is free for all riders.

“I think this is a really great option,” Elanya told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann, adding it’s smart on the city’s part. “They have to do something. The fact that [Chariot] is used in other cities like San Francisco and London, so it works. Denver is growing. It’s not slowing down.”

With the busy holiday season fast approaching, Elanya thinks City Shuttle will come in handy and hopefully encourage more shoppers to come to unique stores like the Artisan Center.

“It’s not like a typical store you walk into,” she said. “It’s very creative, it’s warm and we support at least 30 percent local artists. It’s just a place you keep coming back to because there’s really unique gifts. People are already thinking about the holidays, so it’s only going to get busier.”

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(credit: CBS)

Hancock along with members of city council, city staff and the CEO of Chariot, will unveil City Shuttle on Thursday morning at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center. The event will include a demonstration of how to pick-up a City Shuttle.

Denver Public Works will then gather data during the six-month pilot program to better understand usage and determine if the new service can help fulfill a “first mile-last mile connection.”

Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.

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