Van Pool Program: What I Need To Know

University of Iowa Employee Van Pool Program: What I Need to Know

The Employee Van Pool Program is sponsored by the University of Iowa Parking and Transportation Department’s Commuter Programs. Which is dedicated to reducing the need to construct additional parking spaces on campus, more effectively utilizing premium parking spaces, and reducing traffic congestion by encouraging the use of various alternative commuting options other than driving alone.

What is a van pool?

A van pool is a group of 7 to 15 commuters who voluntarily participate in a ride sharing arrangement. The van makes one trip to work and one trip home. A variety of vehicles ranging from 7 passenger mini-vans to full-size 15 passenger maxi-vans are used. The cost of the van pool is determined by the average commute miles that the van will travel during the month. The van pool group shares the cost of operating the van pool, including fuel and any other commute related expenses.

Why should I van pool?

Van pooling is one of the most economical means of transportation available in the United States. It costs much less than driving alone to and from work, it reduces the number of cars on our roadways, it saves thousands of gallons of fuel and drastically reduces air pollution on an annual basis. For the individual commuter, it also saves wear and tear on their personal car and reduces the stress associated with a long, hectic commute.

Who drives the van?

In a commuter van pool, the Primary Driver is one of the members of the commuting group and is the primary point of contact for the van pool. In exchange for driving duties, the Primary Driver will have his/her monthly van pool fees waived while in this position. Most groups will also need two to three authorized Alternate Drivers to rotate driving responsibilities among themselves and the Primary Driver. The volunteer drivers will not receive any compensation and driving may be incidental to their commute.

What are the riding responsibilities?

Each person is required to sign a Van Pool Rider Agreement prior to their first time riding a van pool in the Program. Riders should be at the pick-up point on time, discuss and agree with the rules on the van, and wear seat belts at all times. Alternate Drivers either rotate the driving, or fill in for the Primary Driver when he/she is unable to drive, on vacation, etc. All members must also be flexible to cooperate and compromise with other members. This includes the possibility of driving the van on rare occasions if the driver and backup drivers are unavailable. All participants should work with the Primary Driver to help recruit passengers to maintain a full van. This will keep the cost as low as possible for everyone.

How much does it cost to van pool?

The style of vehicle, the miles a van travels, and a van’s given membership determines the monthly van pool rate. The miles traveled is determined by averaging the previous fiscal year’s monthly miles. The van pool group shares the cost and the monthly rate, and any other commute related expenses that may be incurred. Therefore, monthly passenger fares can vary but are very affordable. The cost to van pool may even be less than what you pay for just gasoline alone! When you consider the cost of wear and tear, maintenance, tires and all incidental costs associated with driving alone, van pooling can be very economical.

What types of vehicles are used?

A variety of vehicles ranging from 7 passenger mini-vans to full-size 15 passenger maxi-vans are used. All vans have cloth seats and front & rear air conditioning and heating. Each van pool decides what their desired capacity for their van will be, so they can set their own comfort level.

Is van pooling for me?

Van pooling can be a great commuting option; however, it may not be for everyone. As a member of a van pool, each participant must compromise and cooperate with each other in order to have a successful van pool. Consistent work schedules that meet the van’s criteria are essential. If your job requires travel or overtime, committing to a van may not be the best solution. Remember your primary responsibility is to your job.

How do I get started?

If you think van pooling is for you, it’s easy to get started. To join or get added to a waiting list for an existing van, go to My Van Pool.  For questions or problems logging in, contact Commuter Programs at (319) 353-5770, or email commuter-programs@uiowa.edu.

If you are looking to start a van pool we will need a minimum of six interested University of Iowa employees who share similar work hours and live or can commute to the same community. Be sure they are not current van members on other existing van pools, as we do not start new vans at the detriment of existing vans. Once this minimum amount is reached please contact Commuter Programs at (319) 353-5770 or email commuter-programs@uiowa.edu.

Emergency Ride Home Program (ERH): Commuter Programs offers the Emergency Ride Home Program to van pool members in order to help get home in the event of illness or family emergency while at work. A taxi-cab will provide the transportation, and the cost must be initially covered by the person requesting the service. Afterward a request form and additional documentation, including the receipt, will need to be submitted and approved in order for compensation. For more information please contact Commuter Programs at (319) 353-5770, email commuter-programs@uiowa.edu or visit us online at http://transportation.uiowa.edu/emergency-ride-home-program.