Published September 21, 1999
Volume 7, Number 9

Vanpools Offer Economic Advantages to Commuters — Plus, They're Relaxing, Fun

Hacienda businesses draw employees that live in an increasingly wide area, from throughout the Bay Area and into the Central Valley. One of the best ways to improve a long commute is to either join or create a vanpool. 

"We've had people say they wanted to try it on a part-time basis and once they've figured out the luxury of it, they've become full time riders," says Chris Speckens of PeopleSoft, a vanpool driver who commutes from Modesto. "The only bad part is that we wish there were more commuters like us every car we pass typically has just one person in it, the driver."

Darryl Thorsteinson, a Lucent supervisor, has been a vanpool driver for eight years. 

"Riding with people is fun they become part of your family," he says. 

They both agree that the primary benefit is economical.

"Savings is realized by all the riders," says Thorsteinson. "I like to think my van gets 210 passenger miles per gallon." 

Help from RIDES
Perhaps the best resource for would-be vanpoolers is RIDES for Bay Area Commuters. 

"We will help people get started from the very beginning of the process, from making the decision to form a vanpool to putting a van on the road," says Sheree Page, RIDES vanpool coordinator. 

RIDES maintains a database of commuters interested in participating in either a carpool or a vanpool and uses that to identify potential riders. 

"Some people like to use their own van and we can give them all kinds of information on how to run the van, suggestions on vanpool insurance, and things like that. We also tell people how they can lease a van from the two leasing companies that are out there now, VPSI and Enterprise." 

RIDES also offers information meetings at an employer's location for people that are considering forming vanpools. Also, RIDES is available for "vanpool formation meetings," where they meet with a group that has decided to go forward and form a vanpool. 

"We talk to people about where they can meet, pick-up and drop-off points, what the rules of the van might be, and so on," says Page. 

RIDES has also started a new program, SmartPool II, in which they provide vans for 30 to 60-mile commutes. 

"Vanpools are usually for commutes of 40 miles round trip or longer, so this is for shorter distance commutes."

Those interested in joining vanpools as riders can call RIDES at (800) 755-7665 to be added to their interest database. Riders can also sign up through the RIDES web site at www.rides.org

Employers who would like to set up vanpool interest meetings may contact Page at (510) 893-7665 or Shelley Sparkman at (510) 273-2067.

VPSI Commuter Vans can be reached at (800) VAN-RIDE; Enterprise Vanpools is at (800) VAN-4-WORK.


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