What is a Vanpool?
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 at least 13 days out of the month. 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.
Metro Vanpools are open to everyone and the Metro Vanpool Program strictly prohibits discrimination in all its forms. Our enrolled Volunteer Participants agree to cooperate and act to ensure that no person shall be denied the opportunity to participate in, nor be subject to discrimination in the conduct of the vanpool because of race, creed, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability, or employer group. Our vehicle suppliers will provide vehicles that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upon request of a Volunteer Participant or a passenger.
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!
- Program Overview
- Where to Begin
- Application Process
- Enrollment Evaluation
- Enrollment Notice
- Maintaining Enrollment
Metro Vanpool Program contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 213.922.6226.
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.
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 (Revised 9/14) and Metro Vanpool Program Participation Agreement (Revised 9/14).
To apply for the Metro Vanpool Program lease fare subsidy, a vanpool agreement holder with a valid vanpool agreement with any Metro vanpool partner leasing agency must read and agree to the Terms and Conditions of the Participation Agreement complete the Metro Vanpool Program Participation Application and submit the completed application to Metro. 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.
Metro will review each application received for eligibility and completeness based on the following rules: (1) Applicant is the confirmed primary driver or lease holder. (2) Vanpool operates at least 30 miles roundtrip and three days each week, (3) Vanpools must begin service with at least 70% of vehicle seats occupied, (4) Vanpool agreement holder agrees to all terms and conditions of the Metro Vanpool Program. (5) Vehicle lease fare is less than or equal to maximum lease authorized. (6) Vanpools must end at a work site located within Los Angeles County, (7) Vehicle selected is less than four years old and/or 200,000.
All applicants will be notified by Metro regarding enrollment approval.
Requirements for maintaining enrollment include: (a) Follow program guidelines and terms of agreement as detailed in the Metro Vanpool Program Participation Guidelines, (b) Submit a complete and valid Metro Vanpool reports when due, (c) Respond to Metro and leasing agent requests for information, (d) Maintain a minimum 70% rider occupancy rate each month, (e) Respond to public requests to join the vanpool.
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 fare subsidy with the Metro Vanpool Program
- Building interest to start a vanpool serving my area
- Do I need to own a van to start a vanpool?
- Steps to getting started
- If I start a vanpool, do I have to be the driver?
- Benefits to driving the van
- Establishing vanpool fares
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 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 may 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 primary driver or 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. 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 vanpools:
- Both employers and employees can benefit by participating in Commuter Benefits , a program outlined in the federal tax code that offers employer tax breaks for subsidizing vanpools for employees. In addition, 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 subsidies can lower vanpool fares even more.
- Employer sponsored Guaranteed Ride Home Program programs can supplement these programs.