Vanpool Eases Long Commutes

Nearly every weekday morning for 10 years, Carina Lockley has hopped in a van with a few fellow NC State employees for the 30-plus mile commute to campus.

Lockley drives, the others ride and everyone in the vanpool saves.

“All of the people in the vanpool save money by not buying gas, parking permits or putting wear on their personal vehicles,” said Lockley, a program manager in Human Resources.

At the same time, the community benefits. When employees use vanpool, fewer cars hit the road for the daily commute. The result is less traffic, air pollution and fuel use.

“Vanpooling has quite a few benefits and reduces the number of cars commuting to campus. That’s why NC State encourages and provides incentives for vanpooling,” said Sarah Williams, who manages NC State’s transportation demand program.

Vanpools with riders working on one of NC State’s three campuses receive a free parking pass for the van, a $20 monthly subsidy toward each rider’s fare and 24 free daily parking permits each year for days when riders must drive a car to campus. Additionally, riders are provided with a free emergency ride home.

GoTriangle, the region’s public transportation provider, provides the van, fuel, insurance and maintenance. The primary driver of the van rides for free and the remaining riders split the monthly fare, which is based on the number of miles the van travels daily.

Vans of various sizes are available to accommodate vanpools ranging from a minimum of six riders up to 15.

Unlike bus service, which doesn’t extend to every town in the region, vanpool makes ridesharing accessible in any location where a group of employees have similar commutes.

For Rhonda Greene, who works in the Office of Information Technology, vanpool has been a game-changer for her daily commute from Fayetteville to campus. Since joining a vanpool in 1997, Greene estimates that vanpool cut her commuting expenses by two-thirds.

“Participating on a vanpool has saved me a significant amount of money and time. I am not driving the entire distance so I’m able to relax, read the latest James Patterson novel or plan a to-do list for work or home,” she said. “An added benefit is that I know in a small way I’m helping to sustain our environment.”

NC State maintains a list of existing vanpools of campus-based employees, as well as information about how to start a new vanpool. As incentive for trying vanpool, NC State employees receive the first two months fare-free.

“Ride for a week and you’ll be hooked,” said Joan Davis, who works in the Prestage Department of Poultry Science and has vanpooled for 17 years.

Learn more about forming a vanpool at NC State Transportation’s website.