Ever wonder what it’s really like to be in a vanpool? A Bellevue commuter gives us an exclusive look at how he got into a van and what it was like becoming a vanpool commuter at heart! Read on to hear Kurt’s story.
Chapter One: Whatcom Transit Authority
Let’s just say, I am no stranger to commuting – I made the trek from Bellingham to Everett for over a year to my job at Boeing. I drove myself for about a month but I was dissatisfied, as you might imagine. I searched for commuting alternatives and I was made aware of rideshareonline.com* from a Boeing commuting resource. I immediately set up my profile and searched for fellow commuters. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people with similar motives to my own. What a convenient and thoughtful approach for connecting commuters!
Within two weeks I was riding a Whatcom Transit Authority (WTA) vanpool. What a relief from that painful sixty-five mile (one way) drive by myself. I was also pleasantly surprised by the corporate incentive offered by Boeing to subsidize the cost of the van. It was a win-win all around. I could relax on the way to work and utilize the carpool lane on the way home for reduced commute time. On top of that, I was saving loads of money on gas and maintenance costs for my personal vehicle. Eventually though, I decided that it was time to move away from that little Canada-bordering town so near to my heart.
Chapter Two: Community Transit
I moved to Bellevue with the excited outlook of a fresh, booming city and the new lifestyle it held. The job however was still in Everett, so I remained one of the commuting faithful. This time I had a new and exciting starting point: Bellevue. Again however, I found myself behind that wheel at 6:20 every morning for a 30 mile commute; I needed a vanpool.
It was at that time that I discovered the Choose Your Way Bellevue website. Similar to my previous experience, I was directed to www.rideshareonline.com* where I updated my profile and started the search for a van going to Everett.Again, I was relieved to find fellow commuters with a desire to share the road with me. I was quickly plugged into a Community Transit vanpool with six other riders. Here I was back in a van, and excited to be saving time and money once again.
Chapter Three: King County Metro
The summer of 2013 was summer of change for me, and my work schedule was shifted unexpectedly more than once. At that point, I was unable to continue ridership in the Community Transit van and I was back on the road driving myself. I needed another van. I want to take a moment here and highlight the simplicity of finding another van to fit my schedule. It again took me just a matter of weeks to find, contact, and join a new van with a work schedule that worked for me. A new opportunity presented itself when I joined this King County Metro vanpool. I was asked to be a backup driver. While I was a little hesitant at first, I decided to accept the challenge knowing that this could only be a growth opportunity. I proceeded to take the simple, but information-packed King County Metro course and quickly became a backup driver. While I now drive rarely, I am glad that I am able to should the need arise. On top of that, it was a great refresher on rules of the road and the techniques of defensive driving.
Chapter Four: Vanpool Contentment
Currently I commute 23 miles each way and save the equivalent of $8 worth of gas and maintenance every single day. I catch the van just 1.5 miles away from my apartment. Boeing subsidizes the cost of the entire van for me – $56 per month. Sweet deal! The savings in my pocket are roughly $130/ month depending how often I ride in the van, and that sure adds up.
During the last two and a half years, I have become a vanpool commuter at heart. I utilize rideshare services and the resources available through Choose Your Way Bellevue and rideshareonline.com to find the best commuting solution for me. I have little doubt that I will need to find a commuting alternative again as our schedules sometimes change at work, and I have no doubt that it will be just as easy as the last time. See you on the road, fellow commuters – hopefully in the HOV lane.
*Downtown Bellevue On The Move is a network of Rideshareonline.com