RTS Kicks Off Rochester-region Vanpool Study

May 14, 2015

Vanpooling is taking off in communities around the U.S. to help provide solutions for suburban commuters who are not easily served by public transit.

RTS recently authorized consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. to determine whether a Vanpool program might be a practical way to link commuters from outlying areas to destinations in the eight-county region RTS serves.

RTS is inviting workday commuters, employers, and residents to complete a brief, 10-question survey about their transportation use. The survey is located at Vanpooling Survey, or can be accessed on the RTS Vanpool Feasibility Study webpage. Data from the survey will be used to determine whether a Vanpool program would work in the Rochester area. If it goes forward, RTS hopes to identify a preferred operating model by fall 2015 and implement a pilot program in 2016.

RTS CEO Bill Carpenter says, “Transit agencies in the U.S. are finding that vanpool services can complement existing bus routes and expand transit services by offering a substitute method of travel to common destinations. The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility of a vanpool program capable of linking commuters from similar origins to similar destinations throughout the Rochester area."

What is Vanpooling?

Vanpools work in a variety of ways but the main features include:

  • One vehicle—typically a van or SUV—is operated by a passenger who is designated as the Vanpool Driver.
  • The Vanpool Program Operator (RTS or a third-party vendor) is responsible for vanpool organization and vehicle maintenance
  • Participants — usually five to 12 passengers — decide on who drives and how monthly costs are shared

Vanpooling offers multiple benefits for commuters:

  • Reduced cost, free or preferred parking
  • Shared transportation costs save money
  • Commuter tax credits
  • Productive travel time

Cost of the study is being entirely funded by Federal Transit Authority planning funds made available through the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) of the Genesee Transportation Council.