Archive for March, 2015

VanpoolEven if you are familiar with the vanpool program, there may be something you don’t know. Are you aware that with over 1,300 vanpools in daily operation that King County Metro is the largest public vanpool program in the nation? We worked with the Rideshare Operations team at King County Metro to organize some highlights of the vanpool program.

What is a vanpool?

A vanpool is a group of five to 15 people who share a similar commute in a van provided by King County Metro. In addition to the vehicle, Metro also provides a gas card, insurance, maintenance, 24-hour road side assistance and even a guaranteed ride home in case of an emergency, illness or unanticipated overtime. As long as the trip starts or ends in King County, commuters are qualified. At least one group even commutes from east of the Cascades.

How much does it cost to be in a vanpool?

The monthly cost of the van is determined based on the size of the van, number of work days in a week and round-trip miles the van travels each day and is then split up between the riders. The average van has seven riders and travels 50 round-trip miles each day. The average vanpool commuter pays below the cost of a monthly transit pass. I’ve provided an example below, but feel free to check out the KC Metro Fare Schedule.

If your employer provides a transit subsidy, it is very likely that they also provide a vanpool subsidy. After applying for an employer provided subsidy, many commuters don’t pay a dime for their commute. If your employer doesn’t currently provide a subsidy, but is considering adding the benefit in the future, have them check out Choose Your Way Bellevue’s Commute Advantage program.

Example of a vanpool cost breakdown:

If you commute from Mill Creek to Eastgate, round trip your commute is 48 miles. A van traveling up to 50 miles per day has a monthly cost of $751. With five passengers each commuter’s monthly responsibility will be $150.20. In this scenario having seven passengers would bring the monthly cost down to $107.29, with ten passengers each members monthly obligation is $82.40. Compare those rates with monthly two-zone KC Metro or Sound Transit bus passes which run $117 or $126 respectively, and you now see the value vanpooling offers to commuters.

Who pays for the gas, maintenance and tolls?

Each van is provided a fuel card and all maintenance is included in the monthly cost. Also, vans are exempt from tolls on the SR-520 bridge and in the express toll lanes on I-405 and SR-167.

I don’t know five people, how do I find a van?

A great tool to find carpool partners is On The Move Bellevue. On The Move Bellevue is a free service provided through a partnership of TransManage, King County Metro and City of Bellevue. On The Move Bellevue has a database of more than 127,000 commuters in Washington. The program generates a list of prospective carpool and vanpool matches based on your search criteria. Once you generate the list, you have the opportunity to privately message the people on your list. We’ve found this program to be very useful, not only for creating new carpools and vanpools, but also to help existing carpools and vanpools recruit new members. It’s easy to setup a trip, but to make it even more simple we have created an infographic outlining the steps. How to Graphic 1 sign up

Another great tool is the King County Metro Riders Wanted Bulletins. Each month King County Metro publishes a list of van groups actively seeking riders. Listed on the March Riders Wanted Bulletin are 21 vans traveling to Bellevue. Be sure to check back each month, as there are over 260 vans traveling to or from Bellevue. In fact there are currently 163 vans traveling to Bellevue and 105 vans originating in Bellevue.

What if I have to work late, or have to leave early due to an emergency, will my van wait?

Van schedules are determined based on each group’s preferences, though it is likely that a van will leave when scheduled. However, when you join a King County Metro Vanpool, you qualify for King County Metro’s guaranteed ride home program called Courtesy Cab. In the event of an emergency such as a family illness, unscheduled overtime, or you fall ill at work, simply take a taxi and KC Metro will reimburse you for you taxi fare.

What if I want to ride my bike as part of my vanpool commute?

King County Metro has bike racks available for all vanpool vehicles, at no extra charge.

Can I stop for groceries on my way home?

All vanpools are given 40 free personal use miles for the group to use each month, so use the van to pick up groceries or even get Aunt Matilda from the airport.  If 40 miles are not enough, drivers can purchase additional miles at $.60 per mile which includes the gas card and insurance.

How do I signup?

Feel free to call or email King County Metro Rideshare team. They are available to help you with your vanpool questions and get you started with the application process. vanpool@kingcounty.gov | 206.625.4500 | 1.800.427.8249

 

 -Jason Hampton, Choose Your Way Bellevue, and Tom Devlin, King County Metro Rideshare Operations

 

 

Friday, March 27th, 2015 10:25 AM | by geri | Add a Comment

Compiled from the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is opening I-405 express toll lanes (ETL) between Bellevue and Lynnwood by fall of 2015 to help ease traffic on one of the state’s most congested corridors. Express toll lanes will give I-405 drivers a choice of a “reliable trip” or traveling faster by paying a toll that will vary and change in real time based upon the speed of vehicles moving through the lanes. Last week, the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) set the toll rates and the occupancy requirements for carpools for use of the I-405 ETLs. Toll rates will adjust to keep traffic moving 45 mph or faster in the express toll lanes. Transit, vanpools, and carpools meeting the occupancy requirement will be able to use the lanes toll-free. Read on for more information on I-405 Express Toll Lanes rates and policies.

How will Tolling work?

  • Good To Go! toll rates will range from a minimum of 75 cents to a maximum of $10.  It is estimated that the typical toll will range from 75 cents to $4.
  • Carpools with three or more people will be exempt from paying a toll at all times, and carpools with two people will be exempt, except during weekday peak hours (5 – 9 a.m. and 3 – 7 p.m.).  Motorcycles, transit vehicles, and vanpools will also be exempt.
  • To use the express toll lanes free, drivers must meet the occupancy requirements, have a Good To Go! account and have a Flex Pass. WSDOT will give away Flex Passes to drivers who will regularly carpool on I-405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood. Drivers will need to register on On the Move Bellevue and fill out a survey to determine if they qualify to receive a free Flex Pass. If they don’t qualify for a free Flex Pass, they can still purchase one. Carpoolers can also use On The Move Bellevue to find an extra person to carpool with on I-405.
  • Drivers without a Good To Go! account can also use the express toll lanes and will receive a bill in the mail for their trip.  Drivers who chose this option will pay $2 above the posted Good To Go! rate in effect at the time of the trip
  • The ETL fee will be displayed on overhead electronic signs signifying what you will pay when you enter the lane, even if the toll rate goes up or down after that time. Rates displayed on the sign will be listed next to destinations. You will pay the amount listed next to the destination you are traveling to.

WSDOT-0121_Flex_Pass_Mockup_v3a

What are the benefits of express toll lanes on I-405?

  • Travel time reliability: Proves the choice for a reliable trip which does not exist for drivers in the corridor today.
  • Reduces traffic congestion: Express toll lanes improve mobility for everyone in the corridor including transit, freight, and drivers in the regular lanes.
  • Reliably manages congestion in real time: Toll rates adjust based on real-time traffic conditions to maintain an average speed of at least 45 mph in the express toll lanes.
  • Helps fund future congestion relief: Express toll lanes will provide funding towards future I-405 corridor improvements.

2+ HOV or 3+ HOV: It’s all about making I-405 move Read more here (pdf 320kb)

To review all of the materials and information used during the Commission’s 2015 rate setting process, please visit 2015 I-405 Express Toll Lanes rate proposal

Good To Go! Flex Pass

Any existing Good To Go! pass will work to pay a toll on I-405. But if you plan to use the I-405 toll lanes as a carpool, you must have the new Good To Go! Flex Pass to drive in those lanes toll-free. With the help of RideshareOnline.com and its programs such as On The Move Bellevue, WSDOT is providing free Flex Passes to drivers who currently carpool at least once per week on I-405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood. You can also use the Ridematch tool to find another carpooler to help meet occupancy requirements to use the express toll lanes for free.

Follow these steps to access the Good To Go! promotion:

  1. Log in to your On The Move Bellevue account, or create a new account.
  2. Once you’re logged in, go to “Rewards” on the top navigation bar.
  3. On the drop-down menu select “Incentive Programs.”
  4. Once you reach the incentive page with a list of all rewards, find the Good To Go! Flex Pass and click “Submit” to take the survey and make your request for a Flex Pass.

If you qualify for a free Flex Pass, you’ll need to activate it after you receive the Flex Pass in the mail by adding it to an existing Good To Go! account or opening a new account. While you won’t need the pass to ride for free in the Express Toll Lanes until later this year when they go live, you can activate it and use it on other WSDOT tolling facilities (like SR-520) in the meantime.

If you have questions about this offer email 405carpool@wsdot.wa.gov or call 206-464-1230.

 

 

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 2:02 PM | by geri | Add a Comment

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