The new Massachusetts Commuter Vanpool Program
In most large markets across the country, commuters have a choice of using fixed route local or regional bus or commuter rail services. However, in our fast changing economy, many Massachusetts employment centers are located in smaller urban, suburban or rural areas where commuters are left without direct bus or rail service to get to and from work. They most often rely on driving alone or finding a carpool match through the state’s NuRide, ridematching database. One additional mode of transportation often overlooked is vanpooling. It is becoming not only a more flexible option for people to commute to and from work but with the Commonwealth’s new Commuter Vanpool Program it is now becoming even more cost effective for people both living in rural areas as well as larger cities commuting to the suburbs.
What is a vanpool?
A vanpool is a group of people with a similar origin, destination and work schedule who share the cost of the commute to and from work in a vehicle that has a 7-15 passenger capacity. The primary driver and alternate driver are vanpool members that volunteer to drive the group. The vanpool group leases a vehicle from a vanpool vendor and divides the cost of the monthly van rental, gas, tolls, and other incidental expenses amongst themselves.
Why join a vanpool?
- Reduces parking costs
- Reduces emission and improves air quality
- Reduces travel time and allows for the use of HOV lanes
- Saves money on commuting compared to driving one's own car
- Makes driving a shared task thus providing riders time to read, nap or catch up on work
In order to support the reduction of single-occupancy vehicle travel, the new Massachusetts Commuter Vanpool Program will provide a monthly subsidy of up to $600 (not to exceed 50% of the monthly lease cost) to qualifying vanpools that lease their vans directly from one of the state qualified vanpool vendors:
- Enterprise Rideshare
- The Rideshare Company
These monthly savings are then passed on through a reduction in the monthly lease cost to each of the vanpool groups. Vanpools must have an origin and/or destination in MA, be open to the public and apply for eligibility by completing the MassRIDES Vanpool Program Registration form.
For more information on how to start a vanpool, eligibility, program guidelines and commuter benefits, please log on to www.commute.com or call 1-888-4COMMUTE.
In addition, MassRIDES Representatives will be available to provide detailed information about this program to the Regional Coordinating Council member organizations at RCC meetings throughout Massachusetts.