’Tis the Season to Share the Ride
MTC and its Bay Area partners have launched several new Bay Area promotions to encourage Bay Area travelers to share the ride. “It’s the season for sharing, so share a ride and be rewarded in more ways than one,” said Barbara Laurenson, manager of MTC’s carpool program.
MTC’s recently established Bay Area Vanpool Program is offering direct subsidies to new and existing vanpools, thanks to an infusion of over $9.5 million approved by MTC in July of 2018 for the next five years. “Vanpooling is a good option for commuters traveling 40 miles or more each way and who have pretty regular schedules,” said Lloyd Nadal, program manager for Solano County, where many of the region’s vanpools originate. Qualifying vanpools that rent their vehicles through Enterprise (the preferred vendor for the Vanpool Program) can now reduce the cost of their monthly van rates by $350, courtesy of MTC. Vanpool groups can apply for subsidies at Commute With Enterprise. Vanpoolers can pay for their remaining vanpool costs with pretax dollars, further reducing the cost of their shared commute.
A person’s vanpool cost could be around $150 a month, with the price varying by how far you commute, the number of people in the vanpool and the rental cost of the vehicle, according to Megan Nangle, MTC’s Vanpool Program coordinator. “Between these new subsidies and the longstanding tax benefits, vanpooling is going to be a really cost-effective option for commuters traveling long distances, and it’s often door-to door, which makes it highly convenient as well,” she said.
“Offering employees the ability to pay vanpool costs with pre-tax dollars is also a way to comply with the Bay Area’s Commuter Benefits Program,” said Eric Pop, air quality specialist with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
To learn how to join a vanpool, start a new one or see if your existing vanpool qualifies for the subsidy, visit www.traffic.511.org/carpool-vanpool/vanpool/overview.
MTC's ongoing Bay Area Carpool Program is also rewarding BayArea travelers who give ridesharing a try with carpool apps Waze (for drivers), Waze Carpool (for riders) and Scoop (for both riders and drivers). Both riders and drivers can earn $20 Amazon gift cards by using one of these apps to take five carpool trips. Users take a screen shot of their trip log and submit it via carpool.511.org to cash in on the deal. Launched in October 2018, the promotion continues through December 2018.
Starting in January 2019, Bay Area commuters new to carpooling can get a week’s worth of rides taken with the Scoop app free. New users will need to download the app and take their first five trips for free within the first two weeks. With this promotion, the Bay Area Carpool Program hopes to introduce people to carpooling and create sustained carpooling behavior. The First Week Free promotion will run January through June 2019 or until funding is exhausted. Visit carpool.511.org for current and future rewards for carpoolers.