U-M commuter vanpools, which have grown by 14 percent in the last year, could sprout more users this spring and in coming months, as ride sharing opportunities generally are expanding.
That’s because GreenRide users who have traditionally searched within the university community for ridesharing or vanpool commuting opportunities now have the opportunity to broaden their search beyond the U-M community to the commuting region.
“The more people in the system, the better the odds of finding a match for your one-time travel or regular commute. The opportunity is there,” says Renee Jordan, Parking and Transportation Services fleet manager.
That broader range of ride sharing opportunities is available through the new GreenRide Connect website at www.isharearide.org/u-m. The change follows the Michigan Department of Transportation and Ann Arbor Transportation Authority agreement last year that any vanpools that commute from or to Washtenaw County will be managed by AATA.
AATA has named its new vanpool program VanRide. It will supply new vanpools or replacement vehicles for existing vanpools, Jordan says. Existing U-M vRide (formerly MichiVan) vanpools will continue to be used.
PTS reports that currently there are 95 vanpools with 575 participants, and 20 registered carpools, while a significant number of informal carpools are not registered.
GreenRide Connect provides ride-matching software to U-M staff and faculty members, to locate an existing carpool or vanpool, or create one of their own. System users can limit their search within U-M affiliates, or broaden their search to the larger commuting region.
It is part of an overall strategy to promote alternatives to bringing single-occupancy vehicles to campus. PTS says those who have traditional working hours and come and go at the same times should consider the possibilities for ride sharing, to save money and reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
The launch of GreenRide in spring 2008 included an offer to carpoolers of a pre-tax parking permit payroll sharing system. Full-time U-M employees can join the vanpool program for $25 per month through pre-tax payroll deduction. PTS waives the fee for primary van drivers. Part-time employees also may be eligible for the vanpool program.
Jordan says the GreenRide Connect website has been updated to explain changes to users. “Most of its functionality differences will be seamless to the user,” she says.
Once a GreenRide user has found five other people to participate in a vanpool, then AATA/VanRide will provide a vehicle, and U-M subsidizes a portion of the cost of the vanpool.
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