BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A new vanpool program is available for commuters across Deschutes County.
It's meant to help groups of five or more workers who share a similar commute and schedule.
“We basically form up a group that is coming from the same area around the same time and even during COVID -- a cohort that is already working together,” said Kim Curley, community engagement coordinator for Commute Options.
Each rider pays a set fee per month, which covers gas, insurance and repairs. The price depends on the number of riders and the distance of the commute.
Commute Options is offering to help with the costs.
"Our subsidy will pay down about half the cost of the van-poolies per month. The lease covers maintenance and insurance," Curley said.
Here's more on the new vanpool service in the Commute Options announcement Wednesday:
There is a new transportation solution available for commuters across Deschutes County. Longtime Central Oregon Transportation Options provider, Commute Options, Cascades East Transit and Commute with Enterprise have launched a regional vanpooling program. Two vans hit the road in June, one from Bend to Crescent, and the other from Redmond to Black Butte Ranch.
Newly formed vanpools qualify for a $500 subsidy per route, which is paid by Commute Options. Five or more workers who share a similar commute and schedule can create a vanpool. Each rider pays a set fee per month, which covers all costs including gas, insurance and repairs. Some employers opt to pay the remaining fee, creating a free ride for their workers.
The program launches as the city of Bend finds transportation and congestion ranking among top community concerns, the cost of housing in Central Oregon skyrockets, and large employers face challenges filling open jobs. Shared transportation options, like vanpooling, can help people get to and from the worksite, making it an excellent employee retention and recruitment tool.
While many office employees are still working from home, many are heading back to the worksite, and millions of essential workers across the United States continue to commute to work. From manufacturing and construction to food production and health care, these employees have kept critical operations and services running throughout the pandemic. With COVID-19 vaccinations on the rise, commuters are starting to loosen their social circles which means vanpooling is the right fit for many crews.
Vanpooling is an excellent transportation option for commuters who aren’t able to utilize CET’s public transportation system, notes Derek Hofbauer, CET’s Outreach and Engagement Administrator. “We are excited to collaborate with Commute Options on the regional vanpooling pilot program to reduce single- occupancy vehicle trips in our region and help commuters save time and money.”
In addition, all new Commute Options vanpools will receive a Complete Clean Starter Kit to disinfect vehicles and help keep passengers safe, even while COVID-19 risks subside. Commuters interested in joining the program can visit www.commuteoptions.org/vanpool to learn more.
Businesses and commuters interested in participating in receiving subsidies through the vanpool pilot project can contact Commute Options for more details.