Vanpooling an economic, green option for Army civilians
Story by: Shandi Dix
More than 70 Department of the Army employees at Fort Riley are benefiting from reduced fuel expenses, maintenance, wear and tear on personal vehicles and insurance. This is made possible by the Army's Vanpooling program.
"Vanpooling is a group of five to 15 people that work similar schedules and commute to work in one van," said Laura Morris, traffic management specialist, Directorate of Logistics Transportation. "Riders may live in the same community or live on the same route to work."
Off-post employees benefit most from the program with many of the vanpools coming from the surrounding communities such as Manhattan, Wamego, Herington, Abilene, Clay Center, Wakefield and Marysville.
"There is no mileage requirement; it benefits those who live off post the most," Morris said.
Vanpooling is available to all employees on Fort Riley. Army civilians and military personnel are eligible for the Mass Transit Benefit that allows employees to receive a tax free subsidy up to $230 a month for utilizing the vanpooling program, Morris said.
"In compliance with Executive Order 13150 that requires federal agencies to implement a transportation fringe benefit program to reduce Federal employee's contributing to traffic congestion and air pollution, the Department of the Army implemented its Mass Transportation Benefit Program," Morris said.
Contract employees are eligible for the program but are not eligible for the subsidy.
Participants share the cost of the van and fuel expenses. These costs are added up and divided by the number of riders in each van.
"Everyone is required to pay an equal amount whether you receive vouchers or paying cash," Morris said.
Each van has a primary driver who serves as the coordinator and point of contact. This person is also responsible for scheduled maintenance of the vans. All maintenance, regular service or mechanical problems, on the vehicles is covered by contracts set up between Vanpool Services Incorporated and vendors such as Firestone and Goodyear.
"All of the vans are very new when we receive them, so a lot of maintenance issues are covered under warranty," Morris said. "In addition, if the vans are out of service for mechanical problems VPSI has back up vans available for groups to use."
Each vanpool also has one or more alternate drivers. Each vanpool also establishes its route and pick-up times. Riders can choose to meet at a designated pick up location or in some instances when riders live in close proximity of each other they may opt to use door-to-door pick up, Morris said.
"It all depends on the nature and needs of the vanpool group," Morris said. "Of course, the fewer stops, the faster you'll get to work and home again."
There are currently 11 vans with 72 riders participating in the program but more are signed up to begin soon.
Vanpooling is also a green option, Morris added
"Vanpooling benefits everyone in some way," Morris said. "The installation benefits by reducing some of the congestion and parking issues on the installation. Everyone benefits from the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions."
For more information or to sign up, e-mail Laura Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nick Sands, project manager for the Kansas and Colorado programs, at email@example.com.