Published February 22, 2000
Volume 8, Number 2

SmartPool Makes it Easy for Would-Be Vanpoolers

When you hear the word "vanpool," do you shrug and think, it's not for you? Things have changed! SmartPool vanpooling may be just the thing if you have a medium-distance commute of 30-60 miles roundtrip.

While most vanpool programs serving Hacienda are designed to serve long-distance commuters traveling 100 miles a day roundtrip, SmartPool is different. RIDES for Bay Area Commuters, a Bay Area non-profit that sponsors a variety of commuter aid programs, created its new SmartPool program in December to fill the needs of commuters who don't live so far from their jobs.

Under SmartPool, up to 12 riders and a driver commute in a van that is leased by RIDES, as compared to most other vanpool programs where the driver must lease the van. With SmartPool, the driver rides free and passengers pay from $86 to $96 per month. 

"RIDES SmartPool takes away the obstacles and financial responsibility the drivers have had in leasing the vans directly from private companies," says Julie Brennan of RIDES. 

She notes that SmartPool is a bargain for riders, too. A recent RIDES cost-comparison study showed it cost approximately $165 for a 30-mile roundtrip car commute versus $86 for a SmartPool. The numbers grow with a 60-mile trip, with SmartPool costing $96 to a total of $330 for a lone driver. 

RIDES will also help recruit riders for new or existing vanpools, whether formed traditionally or under SmartPool. Riders and the driver just sign up and RIDES does the rest.

RIDES is justifiably pleased with the new program and will be promoting it extensively. 

"We'll be going to visit companies at Hacienda, asking them to publicize SmartPool," says Brennan.

They have a good case for employers as well. Along with saving employees money and reducing stress and getting them off the freeway, the SmartPool can work as a recruiting tool for companies to get top-notch employees who are interested in alternative commutes. As an incentive, some Hacienda employers are already offering Commuter Checks for employees, with a pre-tax payroll deduction of the monthly van pool commuter fee. 

Hacienda residents will take interest in the fact that SmartPool works whether you're travelling into or out of Hacienda. There are already SmartPool vans taking residents of the Tri-Valley to jobs in neighboring cities within the 30-60 mile round trip radius. 

For information on SmartPool, vanpools, or any of RIDES' other services, contact Julie Brennan at (800) 755-7665. 


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