Oct. 14, 2009

VanPool information session slated for Oct. 21

Cornell commuters now have another way to save on their daily transportation costs -- VanPool. A drop-in information session on this new community service sponsored by TCAT will be held Oct. 21, noon-1:30 p.m. in 340 Duffield Hall. You can learn all you ever wanted to know about VanPool in 10 minutes.

How does VanPool work?

"Suppose you live outside Tompkins County, and you know several other people who live near you and also commute to Ithaca," said Helen Steh, commuter programs administrator. "Perhaps you already carpool, but your car is getting old, and the other car-poolers' cars are too small. Or perhaps you don't live near a bus route, or your schedule or shift rules out taking a bus in to work. VanPool is perfect for situations like this, and you could find that you would save a lot of money by participating."

People who sign up as drivers for VanPool will be able to specify the size van they want (seven to 14 passengers), whether they will purchase gasoline on their own or would prefer that be folded into their monthly fee and be loaned a van that is no more than four years old for their commuting use. Drivers will be responsible for gathering the riders who will share the monthly fee, coordinating destination points and arrival and pick-up times and collecting fees for VPSI Inc., the company that operates the VanPool program.

"Insurance and maintenance are covered through VPSI," Steh said. Because this program is offered through TCAT, participants can work at Cornell, Ithaca College or other local employers -- as long as either the starting or ending point of their commute is within the TCAT service area. "The further away the commute is and the more passengers in the van, the better the savings, as the mileage costs per person will decrease significantly," Steh said. "If you are interested, VPSI can crunch the numbers for you to let you know how much a financial advantage VanPool would be, and it can help find others to share the ride."

To encourage participation in VanPool, Cornell provides its participating employees, affiliates and graduate students with a free parking permit and reserved space for the van, a monthly subsidy, emergency ride-home services and other incentives. TCAT is also offering a 10-ride pass renewable every three months.

Those interested in being a passenger or driver in the VanPool program should call 1-800-VAN-RIDE, visit http://www.vanride.com or come to the Oct. 21 information session.