I’m pleased to tell you how happy I am to be a part of the new generation of vRiders. I was really skeptical at first. I just didn’t’ want to give up having my own car. I then adopted a whole new way of thinking. I now get in the van and sleep, listen to music or read. I find it not only saves money, but wear and tear on my car and ME.
Even though we have only been vanpooling with my coworkers for three days now, we love the vanpool program. I can’t wait to enjoy my next few weeks relaxing as a passenger.
Our employee’s are enjoying fuel and maintenance cost savings, lack of wear and tear on their vehicles and the opportunity to relax to/from work. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!!
I've enjoyed being part a part of vRide and would certainly recommend other people consider it as a great way to save on the expense and stress of commuting.
Beginning in January of 2005 I teamed-up with 13 other American National Insurance Company employees to start yet another vanpool from the mainland to Galveston, Texas. There are currently six vanpools carrying ANICO employees to the island five days a week, and one commuting from the island to our South Shore Harbour facility on the mainland. Vanpools can offer employees an alternative; which, before you know it, becomes a routine. It’s a simple routine – arrive on time, leave on time and arrive back home on time. Less stress with more of your paycheck left in your pocket at the end of the month. I’ve worked for American National for over 12 years and commute from the west side of League City to Galveston Island, which is about a 60-mile round-trip. I’ve always driven a larger truck or sport utility vehicle, so I was used to paying more for gas. Before I started vanpooling, I spent an average of $250 to $400 for gas per month on just my commute to-and-from work alone. I’ve been through at least six sets of tires, not to mention multiple brake jobs, front-end component replacements, two or three windshields, constant maintenance and other daily-driver wear and tear. As a former member of another vanpool and as the primary driver of this one, I average only spending $45 to $65 per month for my commute; and that’s with the roller coaster costs of fuel over the past couple of summers. As for the maintenance of our van, it’s covered under our lease! So what about the routine? The routine is to arrive at a designated location with enough time to board the van prior to the morning departure time, and then leave your office with enough time to board the van prior to the afternoon departure time. It is not a hard routine to follow. I used to be a Type A, get-out of-my-way guy until I got into the routine. Whether it’s due to the vanpool routine (or age), I’ve been more relaxed and more time-efficient over the past year-and-a-half. Routine aside, our van strives to operate a little differently, or should I say … we drive to a different beat. Even though we consist of insurance professionals who work in a very conservative business environment, I’ve named our group the Vanimals. We keep it real and at the same time, we keep it fun. We are somewhat flexible with our departure time because every once in a while, life throws you a curve. As the primary driver, I’ve found that it’s fun to mix things up a bit, so the drive doesn’t get stale. We take alternate routes through Galveston for change of scenery, listen to a variety of music or most of the time just talk with each other. We do have quite a cast of characters sharing our commute, which makes for some pretty interesting conversation. Special thanks to METRO and VPSI for making it possible for us to have a convenient and trouble-free commute. They have always been there for us, and have really helped make our “routine” as simple as possible. I just wish that I would have jumped on the vanwagon much sooner!
Our vanpool has been in existence since January, 2006. We have a seven passenger van that travels between Farmington Hills, Michigan and downtown Detroit, a distance of about 23 miles. Forming our group was relatively easy since we all met while riding the bus from our suburban starting point to virtually the same area downtown. We are fortunate that all in our group work within two city blocks of each other, so pick-up and delivery couldn’t be easier. All who joined our group were looking for the same things in commuting: convenience, comfort, controlling expenses, and helping the environment by eliminating so many cars from streets and freeways. As it happened, one of our younger riders, Vicki, was suddenly going to be displaced from the apartment in which she and her husband lived. They would now be in the market for their first home. All in our group agreed that we wanted Vicki to stay with us and we took on the project of finding a residence close enough to our van route so we wouldn’t lose her as a vanpooler and friend. Some of us, including me, went scouting on weekends and in the evenings by bicycle, motorcycle, by car, and on foot. We scoured close-by neighborhoods, looking for likely house candidates. We compiled quite a selection, but as it turned out, Vicki found a place on her own that was within a very short drive from our starting-point. I like to believe that she was thinking along the same lines as we were; that her first priority was to remain within our cohesive group, and all other location considerations were secondary. I am pleased to announce that Vicki and her husband, Matt, took possession of their new home in July and our vanpool group will remain intact. It’s sometimes hard to make new friends, so we should do all we can to keep the old ones.
Vanpooling has been a part of my life for over the last 12 years. I first started using vanpools in 1994 while as an undergraduate student at UCLA. At that time, I was living in on-campus and going home every weekend to my parents who were located 30 miles east of UCLA. As all Southern Californians know, traffic in Los Angeles is known to be excruciatingly bad on Friday afternoons. The options were to either drive and brave the commute alone, or ride the bus with the hassles of transferring. Thank goodness that vanpooling turned out to be a viable third option. After learning about the financial, environmental and life quality benefits of vanpooling, I immediately signed up, first as a part-time passenger, and eventually transitioned to full-time during my tenure as a Ph.D. student. In 2002, I started working at The Aerospace Corporation. Aerospace and the surrounding defense companies heavily promoted vanpooling, and I immediately took advantage of the commuting option. For two-and-a-half years, I rode and occasionally drove a VPSI van from South Pasadena to El Segundo. One of the best things about this vanpool was the fact that our van was able to take advantage of the HOV lane on both the 105 and 110 freeways, which trimmed off a lot of time in the commute to and from work. In 2004, my wife and I left Southern California and moved to New England. After living in Massachusetts for a year, we purchased a house in Bedford, New Hampshire. However, our jobs were still in Cambridge, Massachusetts, some 60 miles away. We needed to find a cost-effective and intelligent way of getting to work. Again, vanpooling made sense. I contacted VPSI and arranged to start a new van, this time serving as the primary driver. Who knew that all my years in vanpooling would one day prepare me to run my own van!
My story begins nearly 20 years ago. I was just out of college and was living in San Bruno, California and working in San Francisco. Because of the cost of commuting and the running condition of my 15+ year old car, I started to ride the Sam Trans Bus to work. A few years later, I was transferred to a new job in San Ramon and so I moved to the closest town my small salary could afford. I ended up in Fremont but soon found out that my commute was going to be a real problem. That was when a co-worker mentioned the vanpool program that was available and how nice it was just to sit and let someone else do the driving. I decided to try it and instantly found that it was really nice to be able to read a book or converse with my fellow riders and leave the driving hassle to someone else. I never looked back and so, as of this year, I have been riding/driving in a vanpool since 1987. Over the years, I increased my involvement with the vanpool program and back in 2000, I began as a full time driver for our van which runs from Vacaville to Concord. The original reasons why I joined the Vanpool program are still there. I am able to save at least $200+ in my monthly commute and I don’t have to depend on my 13 year old minivan to get me to work. This year, VPSI delivered a brand new 2007 full-size vanpool van to me and now I can say that my commute is the best it’s ever been. I make sure that I keep it clean and in good shape. I will continue to participate in the vanpool program as long as I continue to work which should be for another 15 years or so.
“I just gave myself a raise!” is a familiar exclamation as a new rider boards the van for the first time. Our vanpoolers have been commuting from Flint to Lansing for a little over a year now. We fondly refer to our vanpool sit-com as As The Wheels Turn. We have three “sit-down” comedians that keep us in stitches much of the time. We actually have a rider that had a boyhood dream of being a bus-driver, so guess what, we made his dream come true. We officially made him “Da man who drives the MichiVan”. We have had many memorable experiences, but one in particular that comes to mind is the day I was doing the pick-ups and drop-offs, which is not the norm. I sent an email stating, “You will be picked up after work the same place I dropped you off (hopefully). If you see me flying by and not seeing you, just grab onto the bumper and hang on for dear life. I will be sure to turn up my hearing aid to listen for screams coming from the rear of the van.” Not intending to actually miss anyone, I drove by one of our “sit-down” comedians. He chased the van yelling, while everyone else in the van exclaimed, “You missed Barry, stop, stop!” Everyone laughed so hard they could hardly talk and fortunately, Barry was also amused. There is always construction between Flint and Lansing, so one day we decided to stop for Dairy Queen Blizzards, to ease the pain of the slooow Friday construction zone. We chose the right evening for our Blizzard Party, as there was an accident and we had a two hour parking lot on I-69, but because of the sugar high, we all had a great time. The time really does fly when your having fun.
Five years ago, we asked VPSI to step outside the box and entertain the idea of a commuter van that would accommodate a group of nurses who work twelve hour shifts instead of the usual eight hours shifts. In addition, this group of nurses works only three days a week, 72 hours. And, as nurses don’t really have desk jobs, this van goes seven days a week, holidays and weekends included. Our normal ridership is about five people per day. I have been vanpooling for about 16 years and outside of the last five years, I rode a conventional Monday thru Friday van. I thought, why not try to get a 12 hour van approved, there are plenty of 8 hour vans in the Texas Medical Center and at Texas Children’s Hospital too! VPSI accommodated our request (kudos to the Houston office) and we now ride safely and conveniently to work. There are now both day and night vans for nurses from our hospital. Another aspect that we love is the fact that we can decompress with each other after a stressful day. We laugh, we weep for those who we lost and we share stories about our kids and spouses. This is a really good thing for all of our families and for us too!
I used to make the commute to work with my husband, but when he became disabled in August 2004, I joined MichiVan as a “Rider Only.” I was reluctant to give up the freedom of having my car, because I lived about 45 minutes from my job. I was worried about what would happen if I was needed at home. Having the guaranteed ride home program was a plus, as well as not having to make that long commute by myself. Turns out, I’m glad my husband and brother-in-law talked me in to it. In 2006, I became the primary driver for the Adrian 2 to Ann Arbor MichiVan pool. Over the years, some of the riders have changed, but all have been wonderful people. Besides saving gas money, wear and tear on your vehicle, and maybe getting a little nap, the experience has turned out to be rewarding in a way that many others may not have even imagined a commuter pool could be. You see, in October 2006, my husband passed away. My longtime road-friends told me not to worry. They immediately took over and made arrangements for keeping the Van Pool running smoothly while I took a few weeks off. Two and half years later, I’m still driving the commuter van. I’ve found that the daily commuting time I spend is now a chance to laugh, share ideas, discuss news, and just be with warm caring people. I still just cannot thank the members of Adrian 2 MichiVan enough for their support, kindnesses and love. You are all were so appreciated then, and still so appreciated now!
The South Florida Vanpool Program [operated by VPSI] has been a real benefit! The cost savings alone makes the venture well worth the effort. The ability to convert travel time to work time provides a dramatic improvement to time efficiency, and catching an occasional power nap isn’t so bad either. Indeed, the money saved is tremendous! A one hour and a half round trip time five days a week at four weeks a month on average would cost approximately $546.00 in gas and tolls alone. Add in oil changes, tires, brakes, and general auto maintenance, and this amount would grow significantly. With eight riders pooling their funds, the cost per person per month becomes $140.00; this is a monthly savings of well over $400.00. In addition, with the ridership splitting the driving responsibilities, a person on our van could complete up to 7.5 hours a week of computer work or whatever during the commute time. Almost 38 hours a month of working late or coming into the office early could now be spent on personal time. The workaholics in our group really benefit from this! Lastly, I have been known to catch a badly needed power knap from time to time during our commute (not while driving of course). Forty five minutes here and there helps to catch up on that sleep deficit from a busy weekend. Everyone needs to re-charge those batteries once in a while! Without doubt, the decision to start a vanpool has been a no-brainer! The money savings, the time efficiency improvements, and power knaps continue to be a tremendous improvement over commuting solo to and from the office!