Friday April 18, 2008
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has added more than 600 new vanpools as part of the agency’s five-year, $19 million vanpool program, officially making it one of the fastest growing public vanpool programs in the country.
Launched just one year ago, the program’s participation rate has averaged 50 new vanpools per month, far exceeding first-year expectations. Having logged nearly 10.5 million miles in public vanpool service since its start in May 2007, more than 5,500 L.A.-area commuters now rideshare with Metro on a daily basis.
And they’re saving money doing it. Under the Metro Vanpool Program, commuters on new or existing vanpools can receive a $400 per month subsidy to lower the leasing cost of a vanpool vehicle and the fare to each rider.
Metro anticipates that the high cost of gasoline is playing a leading role in garnering keen interest in the program as more commuters seek ways to reduce their fuel costs. Metro’s Rideshare Department has also aggressively marketed the program countywide.
“These high gas prices are helping us convince people that ridesharing can save them money,” said Pam O’Connor, Metro Board Chair. “We encourage everyone to think twice about riding solo and to join a vanpool or ride transit so that they aren't gouged at the pump.”
Solo driving is one of the most expensive commuting methods. For example, a 70-mile roundtrip commute can cost as much as $785 every month when vehicle ownership, fuel, and maintenance costs are considered. Vanpooling shares commuting costs with a greater number of people, saving each commuter more money by sharing the ride.
A similar commute via vanpool is about $224 person per month, a $561 savings. But by participating in the Metro Vanpool Program, the vanpool commute can be further reduced to about $170 per person monthly. The $400 Metro subsidy constitutues an additional 20 to 30 percent reduction in monthly commuting costs for each vanpool member.
In addition to saving money, vanpool commuters save time by immediately gaining acccess to the county’s extensive network of carpool lanes, now totaling 500 miles.
Metro understands the challenges facing today’s developers and property owners and is now moving to partner with corporations, business centers, commericial developers, and strategic planning groups in and around some of the county’s most congested corridors.
Whether an employer pays for off-site parking or offers free parking, parking shortages can create problems, diminish land use options, use up customer parking and add maintenance costs. One full 15-passenger vanpool can eliminate the need for up to 14 parking spaces, thereby reducing parking costs significantly.
Vanpool leasing companies that participate in the program as Metro’s partner leasing agents are Enterprise Rideshare, and VPSI, Inc. Private transit, private shuttles, private vanpools and owner-operated vanpools are not eligible to enroll in the program.
The $400 monthly lease subsidy is accepted by Metro’s partner leasing agencies, cannot exceed 50 percent of the lease costs, and is available to qualified commuter vanpool groups of 5-15 passengers that have a destination to an L.A. County worksite.
For full program information, visit www.metro.net/vanpool, or call 1.800.COMMUTE (option #4).