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Mayor Warren and RTS Announce Expansion and Transfer of Vanpool Pilot Project

November 01, 2017
Vanpool Press Conference 2.jpg

Mayor Lovely A. Warren and RTS CEO Bill Carpenter today announced that, following a successful launch and implementation period, the Rochester Vanpool Pilot Project will be expanding over the next three years, and operation of the program is being transferred to the Regional Transit Service (RTS).

Van pooling, introduced to our community by the Warren administration in late 2016, is a transportation initiative that helps to connect city residents with available jobs throughout the region.  Groups of up to 15 commuters agree to participate in a rideshare arrangement, with one of the participating commuters becoming the designated volunteer driver.  The van makes one trip daily to the workplace, and one trip home. Each rider pays a set monthly fee, which provides them with a safe, reliable, and affordable way to get to work. With subsidy, the monthly fee is comparable to the cost of a monthly bus pass.

The program is unique because, unlike traditional bus or shuttle service, each route is tailored to meet the needs of a specific group of riders.

During the one-year pilot phase, two Vanpool vehicles were in operation, transporting between 12 – 20 commuters to jobs at Del Lago Casino in Waterloo and a manufacturing plant, Pactiv Packaging, located in Canandaigua.

“Lack of transportation has always been a major obstacle to employment for many of our city residents,” Mayor Warren said.  “But for the past year, van pooling has afforded its riders the opportunity to work at distant locations that wouldn’t have been an option in the past. I want to thank RTS and Enterprise Rideshare for helping us expand the Vanpool program. This will enable many more of our citizens to go to work each day, and will help us with our efforts to provide more jobs, safer, more vibrant neighborhoods, and better educational opportunities.”

As part of the planned expansion, the City of Rochester is transferring operation of the Vanpool Program to RTS.  Through this agreement, RTS will also subcontract vanpool services to a third party – Enterprise Rideshare.

Current plans call for increasing the number of Vanpool vans to at least 30 over the next three years.  The rate of van expansion will be determined both by job availability and consumer demand.

“As RTS continues the Reimagine RTS study of public transit in Monroe County, it is becoming increasingly clear that future success in our community will be driven by an integrated network of transportation options,” said RTS CEO Bill Carpenter. “An expanded Vanpool program combined with the great service that RTS provides will make it easier to connect people to jobs and other opportunities. I thank Mayor Warren for her leadership on this important program. RTS looks forward to working with her and the team at Enterprise to make vanpooling a success.”

The Vanpool expansion is made possible through a grant from the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program.  About one-third of the $1 million grant awarded in April of this year will be used for van pooling.

Enterprise will lease the Vanpool vehicles to RTS, who will then be able to bill the City for a portion of the cost of the eligible vans.  The cost for each lease will vary, depending upon the monthly anticipated distance traveled and the type of vehicle.  A typical lease will cost between $850 - $1200 per month, per van. The cost is split among riders, employer contributions, and subsidized by the City CMAQ subsidy pool.  Vanpool vehicles will also be eligible for federal transit authority reimbursement, which will generate an operational surplus that will be reinvested in the program, and sustain the subsidy pool.

“Enterprise Rideshare offers customizable programs that help communities overcome transportation challenges,” said Lauren A. Jeckovich, Business Rental Sales Manager for Enterprise Holdings, Inc.  “Our vanpool service is one of the most strategic, cost-effective and sustainable transportation options available. We are very committed to the success of the program and recently hired a Rideshare Sales Executive who is going to be focused on partnering with local companies to get vans on the road and improve the efficiency of their employee’s commute.”

Eligible uses for Vanpool vans are to provide transportation for commuters from high poverty neighborhoods to jobs in suburban or regional areas; to bring riders from the suburbs to employment in the city; or to transport commuters from the suburbs to regional jobs if the vehicle makes stops in the city to pick up additional commuters in high poverty neighborhoods.

In addition to making employment opportunities more accessible, other beneficial side effects of the Vanpool program include reduced automobile emissions, improved air quality, reduced private automobile dependence, and fewer single occupancy vehicle trips within and around the city.

Companies interested in learning more about the Vanpool program may contact Brianna Alvarado, Enterprise Rideshare, at 1 800 VAN-4-WORK.

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