By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4)– Denver is turning to a special mode of public transportation to help ease traffic congestion in one part of town where it’s not always easy to find a place to park: Cherry Creek North.

The City of Denver is partnering with Transportation Solutions, the app Chariot and the Cherry Creek business community to bring the small scale, on demand transit service to the streets.

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“Those who have been in Cherry Creek for a long time are used to being able to park on the street and you cannot do as much of that anymore,” said Tom Wright, the president of the new Cherry Creek First Bank.

He said that businesses in the area are feeling the strain from the lack of parking options.

“During construction I think it’s been difficult on a lot of the retailers. Particularly those who are on the immediate streets where the construction is occurring.”

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To catch a ride, just open the app and reserve a seat on the shuttle of your choice. The shuttles are open to people who work in Cherry Creek, shop in Cherry Creek and live in Cherry Creek.

Wright said the lack of parking is not only scaring away customers; it’s also effecting their hiring. “What we find is people saying, ‘Well, why am I driving all the way in Cherry Creek to pay to park? I can get a job for the same or slightly even less money closer to where I live and end up better off.’”

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“We have to become much more multi-modal in this city. That means we have to try different opportunities like Chariot, like we have to have a very strong, affordable and convenient bus system. Light rail is important, sidewalks are important, bike lanes are critically important. So it’s a combination of all of these various prongs that have to play a role in our mobility in this city,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

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The pilot program is funded by Denver’s Smart City program. Service is free during the pilot program.

Wright said that his employees are excited for the shuttle. He hopes the city will consider making it permanent.

“We’re optimistic that that will provide more access to Cherry Creek and more access to employees than we’ve had over the past couple of years,” said Wright.

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Starting Friday, the shuttles will operate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Each shuttle can hold up to 14 riders. One shuttle will have ADA accessibility.

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Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.

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