MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey today announced the Massachusetts Commuter Vanpool Program. The Program is designed to increase vanpool use throughout the Commonwealth by subsidizing vanpool fares for participants. A monthly subsidy of up to $600 per month will be available to participating vanpools. Funding is provided through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Cost of Contracting Policy in order to increase vanpool participation rates and reduce single occupancy vehicle travel.
The Massachusetts Commuter Vanpool Program is led and administered by the MassRIDES Statewide Travel Options Program at MassDOT. MassRIDES works with employers and municipalities across the Commonwealth to encourage green commuting options, including vanpooling. A vanpool is a group of people with a similar origin, destination, and schedule, who share the costs of commuting and ride in a vehicle with seven or more seats. The group divides the cost of the monthly van rental, gas, insurance, and other affiliated costs.
“Vanpools have been a core part of our MassRIDES Program since its inception and we are excited to be able to offer a subsidy to make vanpooling a more cost effective and attractive transportation mode for commuters,” said Secretary Davey. “Vanpools help us to improve air quality by taking more cars off the road which further enhances our GreenDOT initiative to reduce 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”
Currently, there are approximately 60 vanpools on the road in Massachusetts with over 700 riders. These vans have operated successfully for existing riders, but there has been minimal growth in recent years. Massachusetts is joining other states in offering a monthly subsidy and reporting vanpool mileage to a national database. National reporting provides funding back to the state which in turn provided funding back to the vanpool vendors and to the vanpool participants – a win-win situation for Massachusetts and commuter vanpool participants. Three vanpool vendors have been approved to benefit from this subsidy including, The Rideshare Company, vRide, and Enterprise Rideshare.
“Vanpool commuting is recognized as an extended form of transit to address unmet needs where there may not be infrastructure in place to accommodate a traditional transit commute option,” said MassDOT Rail and Transit Director, Dr. Beverly Scott. “It is important that we offer this program and report our data so that we can continue to address the needs of our Massachusetts employers and employees who can truly benefit from this service both environmentally and economically.”
In addition to environmental benefits, vanpools provide direct-consumer benefits. Participants save money on gas, tolls, insurance, parking costs and car maintenance. They are able to use the HOV lanes and reduce travel time to work. Vanpools allow for driving to become a shared task which affords riders the luxury of catching up on work, reading, socializing, or even napping.
The Program offers additional incentives to participants who take green commutes. NuRide, the nation’s largest rewards program for individuals who take greener trips and the statewide Emergency Ride Home (ERH) Program are open to all vanpool commuters. Not only does NuRide provide local and national incentives to green commuters, it also serves as a rideshare database and is a great way to find rideshare partners for those looking to start a vanpool. The ERH Program allows individuals who take green commutes another form of insurance by providing them with a way to get home in the case of an emergency.
For more information on the Massachusetts Commuter Vanpool Program, visit www.commute.com.
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