An average vehicle in the US costs $8500 per year to own and operate according to AAA. This cost includes depreciation, maintenance, repair and gasoline costs. If you live in a big city, you are probably driving 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year. A majority of these miles are going to and returning from work.
If you live in a city that has limited public transport, you have no choice but to drive to work. Did you know that some cities have vanpools which allow you to commute together and not have to drive your own car?
What is a vanpool?
In a vanpool, a group of people (usually 5-15 people) commute to and from work together in a van or an SUV. The vehicle – usually a van is leased and paid for by the riders. The primary driver of the van leases the vehicle but is paid for by all the riders.
Typically, there is no long term commitment. The lease is month to month but you can get a lower lease rate if you lease for a longer period.
How much does it cost?
Vanpool costs about $120-$180 per month per person. Cities and companies provide subsidies for vanpools, so your out of pockets costs could be even lower.
The riders could take turns driving the van. Usually, the driver gets a discount or rides for free.
What is the city’s role in the vanpool program?
Vans are usually leased by the city’s Metro program and then leased to the riders on a month to month basis. The lease includes insurance and maintenance.
The city provides assistance in recruiting riders (usually through a website). The city also establishes policies for the vanpool that all riders must follow.
What are the benefits of vanpool?
- Vanpools are considerably cheaper than driving your own car
- Vans can use the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane, which saves commute time
- Reduces stress – You don’t have to drive every day
- Reduces wear and tear on your personal vehicles
- Reduced parking rates for vanpools in many areas of the city
- Your employer may provide subsidies for vanpools, covering part of the cost of your rides.
- Reduces your carbon footprint with a more eco-friendly commute
What are the challenges of vanpools?
If you are someone whose schedule varies day to day, the vanpool program will be a challenge for you. The program works best for people who have fixed work schedules.
Vanpool includes 10 to 15 people, and getting everyone to follow the rules and policies can sometimes be a challenge.
Vanpools in major cities
Here are links to vanpool programs in major cities.
Vanpools are a great way to save money and reduce stress. Your employer may offer subsidies for a vanpool program, which reduces your out of pocket costs. You can even catch a nap on your daily commute!