Welcome to Vanpool!
If you and, at least 4 other people, are ready to start a vanpool, please send us an email or call (360) 906-7510, to get started. If you need to leave a message, please include your contact information.
If you need help finding people to share the ride, please visit Get There SW Washington for commuting assistance.
Download the Vanpool Program Manual
What is Vanpool?
Vanpool is a group of five to twelve people who commute together in a comfortable passenger van. C-TRAN owns, maintains, manages, insures and licenses a fleet of vans which are assigned to commuter groups and driven by volunteers who share the commute. Vanpool riders pay a low monthly fare, based on the number of miles traveled and number of riders.
Who is eligible?
The commute taken by the vanpool must be at least 10 miles in each direction, and must start and/or end in C-TRAN’s service area. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Washington or Oregon resident because our goal is to reduce the number of single occupant vehicles traveling within our service area.
How does it work?
You need at least five commuters to start;
- Each vanpool must have a bookkeeper and at least two drivers. We must approve and train drivers before they operate the vanpool vehicle; so, some vanpools let the primary driver ride for free, in exchange for handling the driving and all the bookkeeping.
- Vanpool passengers pay a low monthly fare based on the round trip commute mileage, number of days the van is used per week, and the number of riders in the van. Fares cover fuel, insurance, and maintenance. The vanpool group creates its own rules, such as pick-up and drop-off locations and the commute schedule.
- You pay your fare in advance to reserve your seat, but members can ride fewer than five days a week and still belong to the vanpool.
- If an emergency arises while you’re at work, vanpoolers are eligible for a free taxi ride home, covered by your employer or C-TRAN.
Vanpooling helps reduce the number of vehicles on the road and cuts down on carbon emissions! Other benefits include:
- Saving money on gas, maintenance, insurance, parking, and wear and tear on your vehicle; and, if your employer offers transportation subsidies, you’ll save even more.
- Saving time and stressing less when you zoom past traffic using the HOV lane. You may also be eligible for preferred parking at your work site;
- Insurance discounts! Many insurance companies offer discounts for people who take transit or vanpool;
- If you're simply a vanpool passenger, you can get a head start on your work day by catching up on some reading, or grabbing a few more minutes of sleep. It can help you unwind after a busy day and gets you home relaxed and refreshed.
How Do I Start?
- Talk to co-workers. Find at least four additional people who have a similar commute and want to save money by sharing the ride with you. You can also use the ride matching service Rideshare Online which matches you electronically with other commuters.
- Find drivers. From your group of commuters, find two or more volunteers with good driving records. One driver is “primary” and the other is “backup.” All drivers must complete a free Van Driver Orientation provided through C-TRAN. Driver orientations are typically held on an as-needed basis; either on weekends or in the evening during the week. Other orientations may be added as-needed.
- Call us. Once you have enough commuters, it’s time to call C-TRAN’s Vanpool Program at (360) 906-7510. Members must pay the monthly fare in advance based on a flat administrative fee plus a mileage charge. This covers the capital cost, fuel, maintenance, and insurance.
- Relax! That’s all there is to forming a vanpool! Other than some paper work to complete, including a contract that all members must sign, you’re ready to start saving.
If you are having trouble finding riders, visit Ride Share Online to help match you with fellow commuters. C-TRAN is also able to provide flyers or coordinate marketing events with your employer, and those nearby, to find additional riders. If you have questions, give us a call at 360-906-7510.
How to Calculate Your Fare
Fares are based upon two factors: 1) the operating cost of the van, and 2) the assigned portion of fixed administrative costs.
C-TRAN includes the cost of fuel in your monthly lease based upon miles traveled and the anticipated annual average cost for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. This means that some months the price of fuel charged by C-TRAN will be higher than market price, but some months it will also be lower. Our goal is the money collected for fuel roughly equals what is spent on fuel each year. C-TRAN will issue these vanpools a credit card to use to purchase fuel. This allows vanpool groups to have the convenience of a steady fare with pre-paid fuel.
Note: To calculate each individual rider's rate, divide the total rate by the number of passengers in your vanpool:
Vanpool Rates for 7 and 12 Passenger Vans
A Vanpool is formed when a group of commuters decide to share a ride to work. They meet at a central location at an agreed upon time and commute to and from work. The vehicle they drive is leased from C-TRAN and the monthly fare they pay covers all the fuel, maintenance, insurance, and other things needed to make it work. Some of the commuters volunteer to drive and are trained by C-TRAN.
Each vanpool group must register their commute trip with C-TRAN including where it starts and ends, and the path the van is supposed to travel. Each van is equipped with GPS so that trips can be monitored.
By sharing the cost of commuting, vanpool users save themselves a considerable amount of money. When comparing the cost of a single commuter versus the shared cost between vanpool commuters, the benefit is immediately obvious. Vanpool rates cover both fixed costs like insurance, and variable costs like maintenance, that is based on the number of miles traveled. Vanpool rates are calculated by dividing the sum of fixed and variable costs between all the users of the van.
C-TRAN offers two different sizes of vans, 7 passenger minivans and 12 passenger full size vans. Vans are serviced on 5000 mile intervals and C-TRAN staff coordinate with vanpool drivers to get the van in for maintenance. A spare van is provided. When maintenance is complete, C-TRAN staff coordinates the van exchange.
C-TRAN does not require a vanpool contract. Vanpools operate on a month-to-month basis. Monthly fares are paid in advance and begin on the 1st working day of each month. Vanpool users are asked to notify C-TRAN by the 15th of the month if they plan to terminate their lease at the end of that month.
Vanpool is a mode of transit that benefits everyone. Some of the benefits are:
- An affordable ride;
- A safe, relaxed, reliable commute;
- Less wear and tear on a personally owned vehicle;
- Potentially lower insurance rates on personally owned vehicles; and
- Personal satisfaction for easing traffic congestion and air pollution.
The community will also benefit from the vanpool program in the following ways:
- Reduced traffic congestion;
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions;
- Lower environmental impact; and
- The money saved on sharing your ride may be spent locally.
Vanpool policies are subject to change without prior notice.