One of the things we’ve been hearing from readers as part of our reader survey is that they would like more coverage of other things that Metro does besides the bus and rail service provided by the agency. That’s certainly a fair enough request, as Metro does have its hand in a number of other transportation programs around Los Angeles County.
For example: Metro’s vanpool program, which began in 2007, has exceeded performance projections in the past two years and is the fastest growing vanpool program in the country, as the chart at right shows. It’s a program especially targeted at long-distance commuters who may not live or work (or both) near existing transit services.
What exactly is a vanpool? It’s a group of 5 to 15 people who have similar commutes of 20 miles or longer roundtrip and who share the cost of leasing and operating a van. Metro helps organize vanpools and subsidizes part of the cost. The benefits for vanpoolers: less wear and tear on their private vehicles and often quicker commutes because the vans get to use the carpool lane. Not to mention the benefits of not having to actually drive during rush hour.
Here’s the vanpool page on the Metro website with more information on how to join a vanpool and the associated costs — typically about $140 per passenger per month. And here’s a recent Metro staff report to the Board of Directors on the vanpool program, along with a power point presentation.
As for Metro, being involved in vanpools makes sense. In big, sprawling Los Angeles County, transit can’t afford to go everywhere. And vanpools offer users the chance to customize their route and take advantage of a big road system that’s already in existence. Check out this chart on how the vanpool program compares to other Metro services (PMT is passenger miles traveled):