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Vanpool FAQ

Table of Contents

  1. What is a vanpool?
  2. What is the benefit to me to vanpool?
  3. What is the RTC VANPOOL program?
  4. How much is the RTC VANPOOL subsidy?
  5. What are the vehicles like?
  6. What are the driver's basic responsibilities?
  7. Can anybody drive the van?
  8. What are the vanpool members responsibilities?
  9. What is my commitment if I lease a van?
  10. Once I join a vanpool, what is my commitment?
  11. What happens when a driver is ill? Or passengers? And what about vacations?
  12. What will it cost?
  13. Could my fare change?
  14. What are some ways to organize picking up and dropping off people on vanpool days?
  15. How can I form a vanpool?
  16. What are good vanpooling tips?

What is a vanpool?

A vanpool is generally a group of between 5 to 15 people with similar travel patterns who ride to work or other places together in a shared vehicle (most often a van).

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What is the benefit to me to vanpool?

The money savings from vanpooling are often substantial when compared to commuting alone, and you will also lessen the stress of driving to work everyday. Vanpooling gives you the chance to snooze during your commute or catch up on reading. By vanpooling, you play an important part in helping ease traffic congestion, cutting fuel consumption, and reducing air pollution and global warming. Ridesharing is also a great way to network professionally and share business ideas and opportunities. Driving with company can make trip a more pleasant and enjoyable experience.

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What is the RTC VANPOOL program?

RTC VANPOOL is offered through a partnership of the RTC and vRide. vRide provides the vehicles and pays for their insurance and maintenance. Vanpool participants share the costs of gas and the rolling 30-day vehicle lease. To encourage vanpooling, the RTC offers a subsidy to lower participants' commuting expenses. In order to be eligible for the RTC subsidy, vanpools must register for the program, have an origin or destination within Washoe County, and maintain and report ridership data.

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How much is the RTC VANPOOL subsidy?

The RTC provides a substantial subsidy for each qualifying vanpool -- $400 for vanpools traveling up to 3,000 miles per month; $500 for vanpools traveling between 3,001 to 4,000 miles per month; and $600 for vanpools traveling over 4,000 miles per month. The subsidy is paid directly to vRide and credited to the vanpool's account where it is applied to operating expenses.

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What are the vehicles like?

The vehicles in the RTC VANPOOL program are provided by vRide. They are usually 7 to 14-passenger vehicles that are designed for long distance commuting. For more specific information on the vehicles, contact vRide at 1-800-VAN-RIDE (826-7433) or www.vRide.com.

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What are the driver's basic responsibilities?

Drivers pick up and deliver the passengers, and arrange for vehicle maintenance. The RTC's vanpool provider, vRide, pays for maintenance expenses along with the vehicle's insurance. The vanpool vehicle is usually housed at the primary driver's residence or park and ride location when not in use and can be used for personal use up to approximately 200 miles per month.

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Can anybody drive the van?

The main driver and alternate drivers must be approved by the RTC's vanpool provider, vRide. All drivers must be at least 25 years old, in reasonable health, with good driving records. No special licenses are required. For more information, contact vRide at 1-800-VAN-RIDE (826-7433) or www.vRide.com.

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What are the vanpool member responsibilities?

Each vanpool group needs a primary driver; at least one back-up driver (preferably two); someone who will lease the vehicle and collect the passenger payments; and someone who will be the vanpool coordinator (maintain ridership records in order to be eligible for a subsidy from the RTC). Often, one person has more than one role. For example, it is common for the primary driver to also lease the van and act as vanpool coordinator. Primary drivers, particularly when they perform other duties, sometimes commute free (with the lease payment divided between the other vanpool participants) or pay a smaller portion of the expenses. That decision is up to each vanpool group.

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What is my commitment if I lease a van?

Leasing a van is more like a month to month rental agreement than a traditional car lease. You will be required to pay a monthly lease, but money is collected from the other vanpool participants, so you do not pay all of the money out of your own pocket.

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Once I join a vanpool, what is my commitment?

Vanpools operate on a month to month basis and require a month's payment in advance. Passengers need to give the driver and/or vanpool coordinator adequate notice before withdrawing from a vanpool.

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What happens when a driver is ill? Or passengers? And what about vacations?

Each vanpool is created with back-up drivers for such times.

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What will it cost?

Exact costs will vary with each vanpool based on the amount of the van lease, the gas that is used, and how many participants there are in the vanpool. Lease prices are based on the size of the vehicle and the miles it will be driven each month. The RTC provides a substantial subsidy to lower participants costs -- $400 for vanpools traveling up to 3,000 miles per month; $500 for vanpools traveling between 3,001 to 4,000 miles per month; and $600 for vanpools traveling over 4,000 miles per month. The subsidy is paid directly to vRide and credited to the vanpool's account.  Free customized quotes are available.  With your employer's cooperation, your vanpool expenses can be taken out of your paycheck prior to taxing, saving you additional money.

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Could my fare change?

Changes in the price of gasoline could change your fare. Ridership also affects vanpool fares. The more passengers there are, the lower the cost. vRide will offer temporary seat subsidy assistance to groups that find themselves suddenly down several riders.

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What are some ways to organize picking up and dropping off people on vanpool days?

There are a number of different ways to manage the logistics. If vanpool members live close to each other, the driver can simply come by each person's house to pick them up. If that's not feasible, then vanpoolers can meet at one of the member's houses or a centrally located public place. Keep in mind that there are also some park-and-ride (see homepage download link) lots throughout the region that can serve as a meeting location. On the other end of the trip, there can be multiple stops or one centrally located spot for dropping people off.

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How can I form a vanpool?

Register with RTC TRIP MATCH via either www.rtctripmatch.com or www.rtcwashoe.greenride.com. From there, you'll be guided through the ride match process. Select names on your match list and send them an email letting them know that you are interested in forming a vanpool. You can also contact your human resources department at work and ask them to help promote ridesharing. Once you have a group of four people with similar commute patterns interested in forming a vanpool, notify the RTC (335-1920) and your prospective vanpool route will be posted on the RTC TRIP MATCH website. This may accelerate you finding the other participants necessary to form a vanpool. If you already have a group of five or more participants, call 1-800-VAN-RIDE (826-7433) to get your vanpool started.

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What are good vanpooling tips?

Take care of the vanpool vehicle. Passengers should dispose of newspapers, coffee cups and anything else they brought. Drivers must take the van in for maintenance, keep usage logs and fill the van with gas.

Sign up for Guaranteed Ride Home.

If you vanpooled to work and something unexpected comes up that prevents you from being able to vanpool home, RTC will pay for your taxi ride home. Click on Guaranteed Ride Home for more information.

Establish some rules

Each vanpool member should have a chance to express his/her needs and concerns. Vanpoolers should agree upon certain ground rules at the outset such as:

    • Food, coffee, smoking and perfume/cologne usage
    • Radio choices
    • How long drivers will wait for tardy passengers
    • Who is notified if someone is sick or unable to vanpool on a given trip? How are they contacted?
    • Driving safely
    • Please encourage everyone to use seatbelts for their safety and the safety of others.
    • While you should not be a "backseat driver," you should immediately address any concerns about a driver's driving practices.

Follow good vanpool etiquette

Every vanpool is unique, but good etiquette is essential to keep it running smoothly. Good etiquette takes into account communication, courtesy, and the safety of everyone in the vanpool.

Do:

  • Communicate with your fellow vanpoolers. If you're running a few minutes late, call or text them and let them know. If you can't vanpool on a particular day due to a schedule conflict, give your vanpool partners ample notice so they can make other arrangements.
  • Drive safely at all times.
  • Keep your vehicle clean and in good condition.
  • Respect any rules the vanpool has agreed upon, such as waiting time and restrictions on smoking, eating, or drinking.

 

Don't:

  • Make a habit of being late.
  • Ask your vanpoolers to make extra stops along the way so you can take care of personal errands.
  • Bring up controversial topics such as religion or politics unless you know your vanpoolers very well. While some people may enjoy discussing or even debating the issues, others may prefer a quieter commute.
  • Have lengthy cell phone conversations while you're in the vanpool.

 

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