The Yuma County Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (YCIPTA) received a grant for $36,000 to implement YCAT Vanpool, a new mode of transportation for local commuters.
The subsidized program, which started Sept. 1, should offer a more affordable option for residents driving or carpooling within Yuma County, to Imperial County and even Maricopa County. YCAT vanpool is available to anyone who forms a vanpool and the vanpool is to originate, travel through or end in Yuma County.
YCAT Vanpool is meant to be a service that will help be the catalyst towards the implementation of a future YCAT bus route if demand presents the need. Potential destinations that YCAT vanpool would target includes GM, Yuma Proving Grounds, MCAS Yuma, Shaw Industries, Gowing Milling, Johnson Controls and other employer sites with large commuting populations.
The average driver spends about $750 a month on fuel and car expenses, whereas the average van pool rider spends about $150 a month, according to YCIPTA Transit Director, John Andoh.
“You don’t have to put the wear and tear on your car, and plus with it being a van the cost gets lower because you can fit more people,” Andoh said.
YCIPTA will subsidize $300 of the van lease costs per month, which would be paid to YCIPTA’s vanpool contactors, vRide and Enterprise Rideshare.
Modeled after the Tucson’s Sun Rideshare vanpool program, YCAT Vanpool will connect commuters headed to similar destinations and contract with private vendors to loan out the vans. One person in the group will be responsible for managing the vanpool and driving the van.
The small size and self-driving aspect of vanpools make them an attract alternative to busing.
“Others have tried to start commuter bus service but haven’t been able to make it work in the past,” noted Chairman Robert Pickels of the Yuma County Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority.
YPG and MCAS tested a commuter bus service in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, but Andoh said the ridership was dismal which lead to their elimination. YCIPTA worked with Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation, YPG, GM, Gowan Milling and Johnson Controls to determine the best way to provide alternative transportation at a low cost to the employers and/or employees. This lead to the creation of YCAT Vanpool and YCIPTA seeking a job access reverse commute grant from ADOT to launch its implementation.
YCIPTA’s job will be to ensure the riders of each vanpool are headed to locations in close proximity to one another. This will be accomplished through vRide and Enterprise’s trip matching software to determine how to best form vanpools in Yuma County.
The new grant will fund 30 vanpools during the first year. The YCIPTA Board of Directors will consider the program continuation after the grant expires on September 30, 2014.
“We’re hoping that it will be so successful that it will be able to run itself after the grant runs out,” Andoh said.