Promoting vanpooling options for employees and providing incentives for those who vanpool can save employers money and help with recruitment and retention by providing a deeper and more inclusive benefits package. Vanpoolers not only reduce congestion on the roads, but free up parking spaces in parking lots and garages. If you own or lease parking facilities for employees, this could save your company an average of $150 per space per month, and you could potentially save over $1,800 a year per space reduced.
Vanpooling is an arrangement by a group of commuters to drive together in a van to their place (or places) of business. Full-size vans and minivans carry 7 to 15 passengers and therefore are the next step up from carpools. Vanpools usually consist of individuals who live near each other and are employees of the same company (or are employees of different companies located only a short distance apart) and have the same work hours.
Here's how it works:
- A group of commuters lease the van on a month-to-month basis (no long-term commitment). In some cases employers will lease or even purchase the van for their employees, and occasionally employees will use their own vehicles. Most often though, the vehicle is leased from a private vanpool company.
- One member of the group volunteers to be the driver and collects the riders' monthly fares. The driver gets personal use of the van, and in many groups doesn't pay, depending on how the group wants to arrange it.
- The vanpool leasing company usually covers maintenance and repairs, insurance, and even provides a backup van when needed.
What are the benefits of a vanpooling program?
Vanpooling is an important option for employers who must recruit employees from further distances. As an employer, you can operate or sponsor a vanpool service yourself or contract with an outside vanpool leasing company independently, charging a monthly fare for a group of coworkers.
Currently, vanpool riders are eligible to take advantage of the tax-free transit benefits provided by their employers. Most regional vanpool providers are accepting WMATA’s SmartBenefits as forms of payment.
Sharing the ride can save your employees money by lowering their gasoline bills, insurance costs, and parking expenses. Vanpoolers can take advantage of special High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to reach their destinations faster, and they can choose to read, sleep, or chat when they're not behind the wheel.
Advantages of Vanpooling:
- Facilitates use of HOV lanes for faster travel
- Reduces need for parking
- Employees arrive relaxed and ready to work
- Easier recruitment and retention of employees who live in outlying towns and suburbs
- Viable option for employees who don't drive
- Back-up transportation for ridesharing employees who work late
- Eligible for tax-free transit benefits
- WMATA’s SmartBenefits program is accepted towards monthly vanpool fee by most area vanpools
How Arlington Transportation Partners (ATP) can help:
Arlington Transportation Partners can help you set up company-sponsored or employee-sponsored vanpools, or find existing vanpool vacancies for your employees. ATP offers ongoing assistance including the following services:
- Design vanpool programs and assist in start-up
- Identify potential vanpool riders and drivers
- Organize employee information meetings
- Serve as liaison with vanpool operators and consultants
- Help employees establish routes and policies for employee-operated vanpools
How can I encourage participation?
There are numerous ways to get the word out and encourage employee participation in a vanpooling program, including the following actions:
- Offering tax-free transit benefits
- Subsidizing the cost of vanpooling for employees by offering SmartBenefits
- Offering free or reduced-fee parking for vanpools (for employers who currently have fee-based employee parking).
- Charging a parking fee to discourage single-occupant vehicles (for employers who previously offered free parking).
- Providing preferential parking (closer to the building) for vanpoolers
- Hosting a lunch time vanpool formation party to let employees form or join vanpools
- Providing information to employees on the Commuter Connections Ridematching service and Guaranteed Ride Home program. Arlington Transportation Partners has brochures and posters available.