June 18, 2012
New VanRide service will reduce the cost and hassle of commuting
ANN ARBOR – The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (TheRide) today launched VanRide, a service designed to reduce the costs and hassles of commuting into and out of Washtenaw County. The service provides a comfortable, seven-person van for groups of individuals that work in the county.
TheRide launched VanRide with a presentation of the program held for employees of Zingerman’s at the company’s southside location.
“VanRide is for those who do not live or work along routes that are easily accessed by bus service but still want to take advantage of the benefits of public transportation,” said Justin Fenwick, business transportation coordinator for TheRide. “The service will help combat the common parking hassles and high gas expense associated with work commutes while giving participants plenty of flexibility because it’s public transportation that you can take home with you.”
VanRide offers a cost effective alternative to traditional commutes for groups of five to seven individuals, called vanpools. Friends or coworkers can form their own vanpool or use TheRide’s ride-matching services to find others looking to find riders. When a group signs up, one person will be chosen as the primary driver. Drivers can alternate with other vanpool members as long as they are pre-approved. Participants in the vanpool can change providing the minimum ridership requirement of five riders is met.
“This is another service that people have requested during our Transit Master Plan outreach sessions with the community, and we’re happy to bring it to fruition,” said TheRide CEO Michael Ford. “This really is public transit for the 21st century.”
All capital and operating costs for VanRide will be covered by passenger fees and federal/state grants.
VanRide charges each vanpool a low monthly fee that includes insurance, maintenance and incident coverage. For commutes that originate in Washtenaw County the monthly cost is $79 or $99 per rider, depending on the number of riders in the group. The monthly cost per rider for commutes that originate outside the county is $119 or $139. Participants only need to commit to the service for one month at a time. Primary drivers are able to participate for no charge in exchange for assuming reporting and vehicle care responsibilities.
SEMCOG estimates show that people who use ride sharing services similar to VanRide can save up to $250 per month compared to commuters who drive solo. And vanpools whose riders each have an average 40 mile roundtrip commute will reduce their group’s carbon emissions by 20 tons annually, according to data from the Center for Transportation Analysis and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Zingerman’s is always looking for ways to enhance our staff’s experience and better our community,” said Jean Henry, special agent for environmental sustainability for Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. “VanRide is a great way for employees to save money and reduce the environmental impact of work commutes. We’re excited to be a part of the launch of this service that benefits employees, businesses and the community.”
The VanRide service is a continuation of TheRide’s efforts to help businesses meet their employee transportation needs and corporate sustainability goals.
“Reliable public transportation is a critical component of business and talent attraction and retention,” said Fenwick. “There aren’t many groups out there helping businesses solve their parking and transportation challenges. VanRide is one of several services TheRide is launching that will be available to meet these needs.”
Businesses can offer VanRide as an employee benefit and tailor the program to fit each employee’s needs. A business can choose to cover all or a portion of the rider fees, set up pre-tax benefit and help administer the program for their employees.
More information on VanRide can be found at www.MyVanRide.org or by calling 877-971-POOL.
The latest information on AATA routes, schedules and detours is available
at 734.996.0400 and on the AATA Routes and Schedules page.