With gas prices rising, traffic congestion increasing, and energy resources dwindling, smart long-distance commuters are seizing the opportunity to turn an often costly and frustrating daily commute into a more pleasant experience. It’s called vanpooling.
Vanpools are similar to carpools, except they generally involve more people. A vanpool is a group of 5 to 15 people who regularly travel together to work 30 miles or more (roundtrip) in a comfortable van. Typically, riders pay a monthly fare and maintenance fee, while drivers ride at a discounted rate in exchange for driving and maintaining the van.
Vanpoolers can shave an average of 20 minutes off of their commute time by using carpool lanes, and lower the stress and expense of driving alone. And now, with the Metro Vanpool Program, new and existing vanpools will save even more money. Get in.
Sharing the ride and expenses in a vanpool has always been a convenient, reliable and economical way to get to work. The typical vanpooler saves as much as 70% in commute costs when switching from driving alone to vanpooling. And now, the Metro Vanpool Program makes vanpooling more affordable than ever before by saving each vanpool up to $400 per month. That equates to an additional 20 – 30% savings – What a deal!
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The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) administers the Metro Vanpool Program to provide alternative transportation choices to commuters, improve air quality, and reduce traffic congestion in Los Angeles County. The Metro Vanpool Program offers up to a $400 monthly lease subsidy – not to exceed 50% of the lease costs- for commuter vanpools of 7-15 passengers that have a destination to a Los Angeles County worksite for which a completed Program application and agreement has been submitted and approved by Metro. (See Application and Enrollment). Private transit, private shuttles, private vanpools and owner-operated vanpools are not eligible to enroll in the Metro Vanpool Program. top
Get started with at least five (5) commuters ready to share the ride and save. Whether just starting a vanpool or a vanpool group already on the road -both new and existing vanpool groups with a valid vanpool leasing agency agreement are eligible to participate in the Metro Vanpool Program. Program requirements are detailed in the Metro Vanpool Program Participation Guidelines(pdf) and Metro Vanpool Participation Agreement (pdf). Individuals or groups under 5 can still participate. top
To apply for the Metro Vanpool Program lease subsidy, a vanpool agreement holder with a valid vanpool agreement with any Metro vanpool partner leasing agencymust read and agree to the Terms and Conditions of the Participation Agreement complete the Metro Vanpool Program Participation Application (pdf) and submit the completed application to their leasing agent of choice. Applications received by Metro from an authorized leasing agent by the 15th of each month will be considered for enrollment on the first day of the following month. top
Metro will review each application received for eligibility and completeness based on the following rules: (1) Vanpools must end at a work site located within Los Angeles County, (2) Vanpools must begin service with at least 70% of vehicle seats occupied, (3) Open seats must be advertised as available and open to the public, (4) Vanpool agreement holder agrees to all terms and conditions of the Metro Vanpool Program.top
All applicants will be notified by the leasing agency to which the application was submitted regarding enrollment approval. top
Requirements for maintaining enrollment include: (a) Responding to Metro and leasing agent requests for information, (b) Maintain a minimum 70% vehicle occupancy rate, (c) Follow program guidelines and terms of agreement is detailed in the Metro Vanpool Program Participation Application and Agreement. top
Put together a group of at least 5 people interested in forming a new vanpool to a worksite in Los Angeles County, and you may be eligible to receive a $400 monthly lease subsidy with the Metro Vanpool Program
If you don’t already know of at least five people who share a similar commute to yours and are interested in vanpooling, go to our on-line matching service and register at CommuteSmart.info for a list of people who live and work near you and have a similar schedule. If there are 10 or more “matches,” you may have a good pool of people to start a vanpool. Also, you may want to ask the Human Resources Representative or Employee Transportation Coordinator at your company for a zip code list of co-workers who may live in your area, or along your route to work. In addition, our partner vanpool leasing agencies can help you find riders.
No, in fact the Metro Vanpool Program only enrolls vanpool vehicles that are leased through Metro’s Partner Leasing Agencies. These agencies lease commuter vanpools on a month-to-month basis, and the lease includes insurance and maintenance. They also offer information and assistance for recruiting riders and policies.
Determine a route, recruit riders, lease a van and set fares and policies, submit your Metro Vanpool Application, and – if you’re going to serve as the driver – fulfill any legal requirements for driving a vanpool vehicle. Your vanpool lease agency is an invaluable ally in each of the steps to get started.
For a vanpool to run efficiently, vanpool members must be willing to take on certain roles. These roles include volunteer participants (all persons, including leaseholder or driver and alternate driver, who coordinate and/or operate a Metro Vanpool Program vehicle) and riders. Drivers often act as vanpool coordinators.
You and your vanpool group will need to determine the best set-up for your vanpool. Some groups my have one primary driver and one or more alternate drivers, while other groups rotate driving and other responsibilities among their vanpool members.Note: the Metro Vanpool Program applicant must be the vanpool leaseholder.
Since every vanpool group sets its own rules and policies, the benefits of driving will vary based on how you choose to organize your vanpool. In exchange for driving and handling routine maintenance (fueling, cleaning, etc.), it is customary for drivers to ride at a discount or free and have use of the van on evenings and weekends where the vanpool lease agreement permits. Some vanpools may split the driving duties between several people, giving each of them a discount. Or, your vanpool may prefer to run more like a “co-op” with everyone taking a turn at driving, collecting fares, handling maintenance responsibilities, etc.
Fares should reflect an equal division of the real costs of leasing the van, less the Metro Vanpool Program subsidy. Maintenance fees (gas, parking, tolls, vehicle cleaning, etc.) may be set slightly higher. That way, the fluctuations in gas prices won’t impact fees—you’ll have a “reserve” in the bank. However, don’t set the fees too high; the affordable cost of vanpooling is one of the most appealing incentives to attract new riders.
Following are several additional benefits available to support employer vanpool programs:
Both employers and employees can benefit by participating in Commuter Benefits, a program outlined in the federal tax code, that offers employers tax breaks for subsidizing vanpools for employees. In addition, your employees may benefit when they set aside pre-tax dollars for vanpool commuting expenses.
Participating vanpool leasing agencies accept TransitChek vouchers which can make providing vanpool subsidies to employees easier.
Employer sponsored vanpool lease agreements with an authorized partner leasing agent are also eligible applicants for the Metro Vanpool Program.
Employer sponsored subsidies can lower vanpool fares even more.
Employer sponsored Guaranteed Ride Home Program programs can supplement these programs.
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